It’s the Spooky Season!
Time to spin a vampire!
We are doing fine here in the Yarra Valley. Although the name tells you we are in a valley, we are quite high up, so we are safe. The Little Yarra River has reached a high level again, just like not too long ago when another “once in a 100 year flood” was announced by the politicians. It is soggy and I am tempted to rename our place “the soggy bottom farm”…( we are on quite a steep and muddy hill so slipping is a matter of fact and happens more often than not…lol…hence the soggy bottom…rofl), but apart from that we are luck. It is just a bit hard to get all the fibres and yarns (and us) dry now, but the wood fire is still raging, so once inside, it is the best yarn spinning, knitting and crafting weather ever.
The water deer also known as vampire deer (Hydropotes inermis) is a small deer superficially more like a musk deer than a true deer. Native to China and Korea, there are two subspecies: the Chinese water deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis) and the Korean water deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus) and there is the Himalayan and Siberian deer also known as the musk deer. Water deer are relatively small in size, ranging in length from 775-1,000 mm. They have a short tail, 60-75 mm length. The guard hair is generally thick and harsh. It is longest on the flanks and rump, with a maximum length of 40 mm is the winter under coat, which can be spun into the super soft yarn.
Both sexes lack antlers, but the upper canine teeth, especially in the males, are enlarged, forming fairly long, slightly curved tusks. These saber-like upper canines are the most conspicuous feature of the bucks. They protrude up to about 52 mm from the upper jaw and constitute sharp, dangerous weapons. The canines of the female are much smaller, scarcely 5 mm on the inner side. A dark spot on the sides of the lower lip behind the upper canines makes the canines more conspicuous. A small scent gland is present on the face in front of the eyes on both sexes; this is the only known case of such glands in the Cervidae.
Despite its lack of antlers and certain other anatomical anomalies—including a pair of prominent tusks (downward-pointing canine teeth), it is classified as a cervid. Its unique anatomical characteristics have caused it to be classified in its own genus (Hydropotes) as well as its own subfamily (Hydropotinae). However, a study of mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences placed it near Capreolus within an Old World section of the subfamily Capreolinae. Its prominent tusks (elongated canines), similar to those of musk deer, have led to both being colloquially named vampire deer in English-speaking areas to which they have been imported.
There are Water deer or Vampire deer currently farmed (read protected) and in zoos. In Afghanistan a few have been spotted in 2014 for the first time after 60 years ! The hidropotes or Water Deer I offer you on tonight’s blog has been harvested just like the bison and qiviut and mink, through hand combing or collecting. No animal was killed or harmed in any way.
Water deer are indigenous to the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, coastal Jiangsu province (Yangcheng Coastal Wetlands), and islands of Zhejiang of east-central China, and in Korea, where the demilitarized zone has provided a protected habitat for a large number…..go figure !!! the Demilitarized zone !! but, They can also be found in Siberia and the Himalayas. They inhabit the land alongside rivers, where they are protected from sight by the tall reeds and rushes. They are also seen on mountains, swamps, grasslands, and even open cultivated fields. Water deer are proficient swimmers, and can swim several miles to reach remote river islands.
Water Deer are now located in France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Argentina, and even some in the United States. Chinese water deer were first introduced into Great Britain in the 1870s. The animals were kept in the London Zoo until 1896, when Herbrand Russell oversaw their transferral to Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire.
More of the animals were imported and added to the herd over the next three decades. In 1929 and 1930, 32 deer were transferred from Woburn to Whipsnade, also in Bedfordshire, and released into the park very happily bouncing along !
The majority of the current population of Chinese water deer in Britain derives from escapees, with the remainder being descended from a number of deliberate releases. Most of these animals still reside close to Woburn Abbey.
It appears that the deer’s strong preference for a particular habitat – tall reed and grass areas in rich alluvial deltas - has restricted its potential to colonize further afield. The main area of distribution is from Woburn, east into Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and North Essex, and south towards Whipsnade. There have been small colonies reported in other areas. As a conservation issue, the UK population of Chinese Water Deer is considered to be of exceptionally high value to the survival of a healthy global population. There is no doubt that the protection of Water Deer will involve not just the population of deer in their native environment, but also the UK population, which probably now exceeds the population in China, Korea and the Himalayas.
The research that is carried out in the UK by the Water Deer Foundation and others will contribute to the protection of the species as a whole. It may seem that all this breed had going for it to be "valued" was the male musk gland, which is worth more than gold...and no,there is not. there is a sustainable way of keeping this bred alive: fibre. It may not be much you can harvest off one deer (only about 450grams per year) and that the hair/down is short..it is extremely soft and nice. I am able to offer you only a very very small amount of hand blended Vampire Deer top.
It is an endangered species and only a very small amount of fibre is harvested without harming the animal per year. In softness it rivals the amazingly expensive and rare Guanaco and Vicuna !
Treat yourself to something special this weekend : the super soft dreamy IxCHeL Vampire Deer blend.
Don’t worry ! They don’t bite !
To see everything what is new and on offer, Please go to : www.ixchel.com.au/collections/whats-new
Also: when you have a vampire you may need a friendly Fang, i mean , Phang spindle The Lair of the Bearded Dragon has made some beatiful new ones and I could not help but add something spooky to two of them: One Ghostbuster themed and the other inspired by Emily from Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride" .
Here's a look:
Thank you all so much joining me on all these fibre and spinning journeys!
Have a spooktacularly fun Weekend !