The Tolenas Mohair Farm Process
Being with her goats and ensuring the land is thriving are very important to Nancy. Given her previous work in the Forest Service for 35 years, she understands the value of holistically managing an ecosystem.
“The land and goats work together. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Healthy land produces good nutrition for the goats, who then produce quality mohair. The goats, in turn, graze the land and clear it of weeds.”
The range of texture and color in mohair is incredible,” she says. “Marguerite’s mohair is a very fine, glistening silver black. It’s ideal for lace and accent work for weavers, like curls on a lapel for added dimension. Whereas Francisco has curly beige hair that is soft and takes on natural dye well. We made a solar dye with cactus flowers and it came out a gorgeous lilac. ”
With her tawny curls, Lily is essentially a miniature version of Francisco, though her small size doesn’t keep her from pulling her [mohair] weight. “She produces as much as him,” Nancy laughs.
And Pearl, true to her name, has strands of glistening white mohair.
“Her fiber is dense, but still very soft. The curls are tight and this brilliant snowy shade. They’re perfect for accent work and to blend with wool.”
With the exception of Sister May, who doesn’t produce mohair, Thompson produces around 30 pounds of fiber every six months. Well-known shearer John Sanchez stops by to do the work, and Nancy is left with fiber to wash and experiment with.
A knitter and crocheter since her high school days, she’s begun taking drop spindle lessons to better understand the texture and properties of her fiber. She’s also had her mohair analyzed for micron count.