Our first day in Ariège we arrived at Auberge Les Myrtilles late in the afternoon and decided to settle in since it’s quite a drive to get to anywhere from there. It’s at the end of a road that stops at the foothills of snow sprinkled mountains.
After exploring the small village (about 20 full time residents) we warmed ourselves in front of the fireplace and examined their stock of tourist brochures. Until then I really hadn’t given much thought to what we were going to do in the countryside. I was just glad to finally be on vacation.
One particularly interesting brochure published by the local chamber of agriculture lists all types of farms that one could visit for a tour and/or purchase products directly from the farmer. Two mohair goat farms caught my interest. I suggested that if we happened to be in that area we should stop by for a visit.
The first farm, Les Bergers Cathares, that we visited is between Le Mas-d’ Azil and Pamiers. When we got near Rouzaud we spotted signs with arrows and the word “Mohair”. The brochure mentioned that this farm raised mohair goats and operated a boutique that is open to the public. When we stepped out of the car we noticed the flock of goats out in the pasture. With so much fiber on their backs, at a distance they could be easily mistaken for sheep.
The farm’s boutique offered two types of mohair yarn, one that was 100% kid mohair called Caresse and another with 77% kid mohair and 23% silk called Diva. Besides knitting yarn they carried various articles of clothing and blankets. At first it was quite overwhelming. I’ve never knitted with mohair so I had a hard time deciding how much to purchase; especially since I had no projects in mind. Inspired by the blue version of this sweater, I ended up purchasing four balls of Diva in various shades of blue. I just hope that’s enough to make a lace scarf.
Unfortunately the other mohair farm that we wanted to visit wasn’t open that day. We should have planned our timing better because both farms are in the same general area. A couple of days later we decided that we would really like to visit a another farm and this time get a tour.
Mohair Pyrénées was well worth the visit. I think the owner was a bit surprised when we drove up for the 5:00 pm tour. I bet they don’t normally see American tourist in October. Even though we were the only tourist there, Nicole was very happy to show us around. We started the tour by watching a video about how mohair yarn from the farm processed and spun into yarn. After the video we went straight off to a barn full of yearlings. Her dog Scottie rounded them all up and guided us to a near by pasture. While in the pasture we petted the goats and visited with Nicole in Spanish and French. After spending time with the little ones Nicole took us to another pasture full of older goats. Scottie guided them to a stand of trees and Nicole pulled down branches for them to feed. She said it was like dessert for them. With 150 goats, we were wondering what happens to the older ones and asked if they ever eat the goats. Nicole emphatically respond, no. We could tell she loved raising these goats and that they seemed more like pets than livestock.
After the tour she opened her boutique for us. I was surprised to find how much bigger it was than the one at the other farm. It seem to have many more articles of clothing and a bigger selection of yarn colors. She also had several pattern books. I tried to resist buying more yarn but as usual, I managed to buy four more balls
of Diva; this time in red. Nicole also gave me a small cotton bag as a special gift.