New Painting Debut! “Cashmere Goat, Mongolia” And A Workshop Announcement

"Cashmere Goat, Mongolia"  oil  16x16"
“Cashmere Goat, Mongolia” oil 16×16″

The cashmere goats of Mongolia come in all sizes, colors and horn styles, but the super-soft undercoat wool from which the world’s finest cashmere is made is always the same neutral color.

This handsome billy was one of a large herd I spotted from the ger camp at Arburd Sands last year. They were grazing their way home in great late afternoon light so I grabbed my camera, caught up with them and followed along for awhile to the sounds of munching and bleating.

My big news is that in June I will be teaching a three-hour workshop “I Got In!” How To Enter Juried Art Shows” through Eureka Art Studios in Eureka, California. You can find out more and register here. As you will see, space is limited, so sign up soon!

Mongolia Monday- The Journey Is The Destination, Part 3: Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve To Jalman Meadows Ger Camp

We didn’t have long on tarmac road before we turned north into the Han Hentii Mountains, most of which is included in one of Mongolia’s Strictly Protected Areas.

This would be my first visit to Nomadic Journeys’ “signature camp”, Jalman Meadows. I hadn’t gone there before because, while there is plenty of interesting wildlife in the mountains, it’s not easy to see. The good news is that it would be an opportunity for both me and Pokey to see the southernmost point of the vast taiga, or boreal forest, that encircles the earth.

On our way from Gun-Galuut we passed this typical herder encampment, complete with car, motorbike, solar panel and satellite dish
Another not-uncommon scene when one is on the road in Mongolia...a truckload of the ever-patient Mongol horses
We passed through a small soum center, the last town we saw on this leg of the trip
Then it was back out into the glorious countryside on the earth roads, heading north
Pokey had become very interested in the cashmere goats as possible sculpture subjects, so we stopped any time there were some near the road. The markings on this one were definitely a bonus!
The afternoon light was really beautiful.
This family had stopped to get water from the spring, which is enclosed with a fence to keep livestock out. I've rarely seen a western style livestock or horse trailer in my travels. The animals ride in the back of trucks, sometimes with very simple barriers to keep them onboard.
Did I say we wanted to see goats? We came up over a rise and....
As we went higher up into the mountains, we found ourselves in forested areas and came across this herd of really stunning horses.
Ovoo up on the pass.
Traveling along one side of a valley, we saw these two boys herding a couple of yak/cattle hybrids.
We were happily taking photos when one of them abruptly turned and started towards the car. His "minder" suddenly wasn't smiling and it got a little tense as we wondered if we needed to get ready to brace for impact.
But within a few yards, the boy got him turned and we all exhaled.
Our last view of them riding off into the early evening light.
We finally had mountains on either side of us and saw a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees.
A local herder family setting up their ger
At last we arrived at the ger camp, which was situated on a bluff above the Tuul Gol.

Next week: boating and hiking and back to Ulaanbaatar

Mongolia Monday: The Five Snouts, Part 4

Almost everyone has heard of cashmere. It’s traditionally been associated with other high end luxury goods, like silk and gold jewelry. What isn’t widely known, and I’m hoping this will change, is that the best cashmere in the world comes from Mongolia. Cashmere is superfine angora goat wool. But the goats are pretty special, given that they can tolerate winter temperatures down to -40F.

I’ve seen the goats mostly at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve and found them quirky and fun to watch. As you will see, they come in all shapes, sizes, colors and horn “designs”. But the undercoat is the same on all of them, so the rest doesn’t matter.

While there are businesses in Mongolia that take the raw cashmere and turn it into a finished product, most of the wool is purchased by the Chinese and taken back to China. Our Earthwatch group got to visit Gobi Cashmere in Ulaanbaatar. I brought home a wonderful natural color cashmere neck scarf that is as soft as can be.

But here’s where it starts, with each goat being hand-combed in the spring. Other than the 30 minutes or so they are constrained for combing, they wander free in the countryside, adding a little character and humor to the landscape.

I took this photo on my first visit to a herder’s ger just outside Hustai National Park.

A “pinto” goat at Ikh Nart.

Goats and other livestock being herded through the research camp at Ikh Nart where they had been brought for watering.

There’s one in every crowd. This one just…had…to…see what was in the can.

These goats are part of a large two ger establishment near the Tuul Gol (river) just outside of Hustai National Park.

Answer to Friday’s question: Roses. Vintage Gardens in Sebastopol, California was having an end of season sale of roses that they might be discontinuing, so I’ve ordered a bunch that looked interesting to help preserve them. Most I’ve never heard of before.