By Teresa Michaud
"Well would you look at that! Aren't they interesting?" These words were coming from my vet as he stepped foot into my little shed two years ago. We have known each other since he began working in this area 17+ years ago. He knows us quite well, Raymond’s father has a few milking cows that Raymond looks after and I have always owned quarter horses; but this was all new to New Brunswick. Raymond and I were now the proud owners of seven registered, purebred angora kid-goats. You feel isolated when your regional vet has never seen a live angora goat. The folks in the area just think that we own sheep and have never heard of mohair. Our little herd has grown in size since then and we now have 30 head and a new 20X20 addition on the barn.
We started out our little business by first learning to clip the goats. We sent our yearling fleece for processing into knitting yarn. I would then knit it into socks and mittens to sell. I would hand spin 100% kid mohair and knit it into socks and bonnets to sell as well. We sold some of our first-clip kid fleece on the internet. Several clips later, I could no longer keep up to the demand. People loved these mohair socks and mitts. I was knitting up a storm and feeling overwhelmed. The orders just kept coming in. We had a couple of hundred pounds of kid mohair stashed as well. I knew that we had to do something daring. My idea of sending out our fleece to be made into socks would cost money that we did not have. Raymond does not like to spend money. He believes that money is just too hard to come by and we should not run up unnecessary bills.
When we first met, he took me through the drive-thru at Tim Horton’s. He ordered two medium hot chocolates. The woman said, “That’s $2.30 please drive through.” He immediately turned to me and said, “Gee, that’s expensive! I could buy a whole can of hot chocolate for that price!” At that moment, I knew I was going to marry this man.
We received our order of socks at the beginning of November of this year just in time for the Christmas Edition of our local farmers’ market. It was held on Saturday morning, December 6th. This was Raymond’s and my first farmers’ market. Aside from the shipment of our newly processed mohair socks, we brought along what was left of our hand knit socks, mittens and bonnets. It was minus 15ºC that morning and the sun was shining brightly. What lovely weather for selling warm socks! Raymond and I were very comfortable wearing our mohair socks, sweaters and mittens. Within fifteen minutes after opening, we only had two pair of mittens left. One was a pair of men’s single-ply mittens often used as a snowmobile mitten liner. The other was a lovely pair of ivory lady’s mittens made with a very elegant bouclé yarn. A couple from the neighbouring village of Plaster Rock wandered over. The woman immediately fell in love with the mittens. She wanted to buy the men’s liners for their two sons. She would need two pair and thought that maybe the bouclé ones would do. The man said that they were too feminine for the boys. I immediately offered to make her a pair of mittens identical to the other single-ply pair. She was so happy; but she really loved the bouclé ones and wanted to purchase them for herself. Her husband disagreed and said that at $35.00 a pair, two pair was plenty. She repeated that she really loved the bouclé pair but agreed that it would be quite expensive to purchase all three pair. The couple purchased the men’s mittens; I took their information so that I could send them the other pair when they were ready. They went on their way. Less than a minute later, the man snuck over to the table. “Please!” he panted, “Put the mittens aside for me, I will be back to pay you.” Off he went. Raymond and I smiled at each other. I picked up the mitts and put them aside. What a thoughtful Christmas gift. She was going to be so happy and surprised. A while later the man trots over to our table. He was carrying a couple of bags and a handcrafted Christmas wreath. “Quick, I only have a minute!” He put down his money and I put the mitts into a white bag. He hastily stuffed them into his coat pocket. “Now I’m going out to the car!”