Harsh winter wipes out millions of cashmere goats

Article from Asia News

Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The cold winter that brought heavy snowfall, icy winds and temperatures averaging minus 35 Celsius has also killed more than 2,000,000 heads of livestock, especially cashmere goats, known for their soft and warm wool. The survival of Mongolia’s nomadic herders, who account for approximately one-third of Mongolia’s labour force, is at stake. This year’s harsh winter comes on top of a very dry summer, which hampered the ability of many herders to gather sufficient supplies of fodder and hay.

Mongolian herders are used to cold winter, but very few if any remember one like this one, the harshest in living memory. Khurmatai, who like many herders goes by one name, told Eurasianet that even when it was very cold, like in 2001, “there was grass under the snow.” However, “This year there is nothing but sand”.

With little access to pastureland and limited fodder stores, herders must take a measured approach to protecting their animals. Khurmatai keeps the weakest animals in a stone corral next to his home, a meagre pile of hay spread on the ground. He fears they will not survive until spring.

On a recent day, he lost 20 goats, huddled in the corral, covered with snow. Though 200 animals remain in his flock, “before spring we will lose most of them for sure, if the weather continues like this”.

Other herders have left their weakest animals to die in an attempt to keep the best ones alive. When they die, they skin the animals and sell the hides, even though that will bring in less than half of what they would make were they to sell wool sheared from live animals in the spring.

Herders left without a flock to shepherd by spring would have little choice but to move with their families to a village or a city to look for a job.

According to the United Nations, 19 of Mongolia’s 21 provinces have been hit by what officials call a “humanitarian disaster”.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that as many as four million of 144 million animals nationwide could die before spring. Families with smaller herds are particularly vulnerable.

An eight-province assessment mission by FAO found that 21,000 herding families had suffered losses of 50 per cent or more.

Several countries, including China and Australia, have sent emergency aid to Mongolia, but herders generally live in vast regions that are hard to reach, partly because of heavy snowfalls that isolated entire villages.

Scores of herding communities, their flocks devastated, migrated to the capital and provincial cities after the harsh winter in 2001.

Many families did not find employment and were thrust into poverty. Others fear this year might bring the same.


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Il gelido inverno della Mongolia falcidia milioni di capre cachemire

Articolo ripreso da Asia News

Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews/Agenzie) – Un gelido inverno, con pesanti nevicate, tempeste di vento e freddo fino a 35 gradi sottozero, ha già ucciso oltre 2 milioni di capi di bestiame dei pastori mongoli, soprattutto le capre cachemire rinomate per la lana soffice e calda. E’ in pericolo lo stesso tenore di vita dei pastori nomadi, che costituiscono circa un terzo della forza lavoro della Mongolia.

L’estate 2009 è stata molto secca, così che parecchi pastori non hanno potuto costituire grandi scorte di cibo. Ora l’inverno gelido rende più difficile trovare da mangiare per il bestiame.

I pastori mongoli sono abituati a inverni rigidi, ma mai come questo. Khumatai, provincia di Hovd ad occidente, che come molti pastori usa solo un nome, spiega all’agenzia Eurasianet che quando pure ha fatto molto freddo, come nel 2001, almeno “c’era erba sotto la neve. Quest’anno troviamo solo terra”. Nella zona ci sono pochi ripari e stalle, limitati negozi di mangimi e comunque i pastori nomadi non sono abituati ad avere molto denaro con loro. Khumatai tiene le bestie più deboli in un recinto di pietre vicino alla sua casa ma teme che molte non vivranno fino a primavera. In un solo giorno gli sono morte 20 capre, nel recinto coperto dalla nevicata. Gli rimangono 200 animali, ma teme che la gran parte morirà, se il tempo non migliora.

Altri pastori hanno già lasciato al loro destino gli animali più deboli, nel tentativo di salvare almeno i migliori. Vendono la pelle delle bestie morte, ma ne ricavano meno della metà di quanto avrebbe fruttato la lana cachemire a primavera.

Se muoiono molti animali, non ci sarà abbastanza lavoro per tutti i pastori e molti dovranno abbandonare la loro vita nomane e andare nelle città in cerca di lavoro.

Le Nazioni Unite parlano di “disastro umanitario” che ha colpito 19 del 21 province. L’Organizzazione per il Cibo e l’Agricoltura (Fao) stima che moriranno non meno di 4 dei 144 milioni di animali allevati. Le più vulnerabili sono le famiglie con piccoli allevamenti: la Fao ha visitato 8 province e constatato che 21mila famiglie di allevatori hanno perso almeno 50% del bestiame. Vari Paesi, come Cina e Australia, hanno mandato aiuti. Ma i pastori sono sperduti per larghi territori ed è difficile raggiungerli, anche per le ripetute pesanti nevicate che isolano interi villaggi.

Già dopo il gelido inverno del 2001 intere comunità, dopo avere perso tutto il bestiame, sono migrate nella capitale e in altre città. Molti non hanno trovato lavoro né si sono adeguati al modo di vivere e sono caduti in povertà. Il timore è che quest’anno succeda lo stesso.


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From fiber to yarn

If you pull a thread from a cotton fabric, examining it carefully you will see that is formed by a number of thin fibers (long from a few millimeters to about 5 centimeters) twisted together. The same applies to a thread of wool, but in this case the fibers are longer (5 to 15 centimeters). In a thread of silk fibers are even longer (even several meters). In any case, the resistance of the wire depends on the number of turns given to the fibers.

Up to two hundred years ago, the fibers were spun laboriously by hand, by means of spindles and distaff. In 1764 James Hargreaves invented a machine for spinning cotton, which was run eight spindles at a time. Hargreaves’s invention was called giannelta (Jenng from his wife) and was the first of a series of machines that have revolutionized the technique of spinning. In 1769 was turned the spinning wheel of Sir Richard Arkwright in 1779 and appeared to work the spinning intermittent Samuel Crompton, who, unlike the previous ones, producing very fine yarns.

Before being spun, the fibers must undergo a cleaning process. The raw cotton bales must be extracted from about 250 kilograms of highly compressed, and then passed into a series of machines to loosen, mix it and beat him, freeing him from big msi impurities and traces of soil. Once clean, the cotton is compressed into the form of groundwater (sheets), and is ready for cardahice. This machine consists of a horizontal cylinder, covered with a large number of iron teeth, which rotates rapidly. These teeth pass (comb) of cotton fibers from groundwater to the cylinder, which soon becomes covered with a thin layer of fibers arranged parallel to each other. The cylinder rotates just under a series of so-called “rappelle”, is also the teeth of iron. Hats off comb the fibers from the cylinder so that, leaving the carding, they are reduced in the form of a slow tape often around one finger.

These strips of cotton are very different from the raw materials into highly compressed bales heavy as it had arrived at the factory not only carding disentangles the fibers and removes any remaining impurities, but also eliminates the weaker fibers that would reduce the quality of the yarn. The fibers are now packaged without compressing, free to slide on each other. This often tape passed through special machines called rtiratoi, is then stretched to become more subtle. To ensure a uniform union yarn fiber for its entire length, sometimes you have several tapes in parallel to stretch together. To obtain an exceptionally smooth spun before straightening to pass the tapes are made by combing machines that make the fiber even more parallel. Once you have been stretched to the desired thickness, the strips are twisted into yarn.

The raw wool must be washed to remove the natural oil and sweat accumulated. The wool is much like the cotton row, with some variations caused by the fact that the wool fibers are longer and more wavy. During the operation of carding processes are different depending on whether you want to get carded wool (and then the fibers are carded in order not to keep them parallel, but let them go in all directions) or a worsted yarn (in this second case the fibers Cardano and comb their hair in order to place them perfectly parallel).
The silk should not be carded. Silk cocoons are dipped into hot water to dissolve the gummy substance that holds the fibers together; do this, the fibers are unwound from the cocoons and twisted to form yarn.

Artificial fibers are reduced directly from the filament yarns that are cold-ironed, but if you must combine artificial fibers other natural fibers, which are shorter, you must cut them in advance, so as to bring them all ‘ approximately the same length of natural fibers.

The yarns can be enhanced by further twisting, but it makes them any more harsh to the touch. This hardness is suitable for worsted used for clothing for men, but not for wool yarns that are used in knitting, the latter must be twisting just enough to give them the necessary resistance, which may indeed increase (without jeopardizing the softness) twisting together two or three thin yarn.

The artificial yarns become “elastic” through the process known as false twisting, the fibers that leads to the form of coil springs, long and thin, but after being pulled, reproduce more or less their original length.


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Textile and leather

Already in prehistoric times humans had learned to make rope which he used for hunting and trapping (perhaps by rubbing between the leg and the hand of sheaves of grass.) Over time she learned to spin fibers such as jute , hemp, flax and cotton, and yarn used to weave nets and weaving garments. When about 6000 years ago, civilizations flourished in the Near and Middle East, people already knew colors, fabrics with vegetable dyes.

Since then no progress has been sensation until about 200 years ago, when they were built machines capable of spinning and weaving. These machines were the forerunners of the Industrial Revolution. Then, in 1856, William Henry Perkin made in the laboratory a tinge of mauve, the first of thousands of artificial colors.

The second major step was taken in 1884 when Count Hilaire de Chardonnet found a way to split the molecule of natural cellulose molecules in a series of very small pili and create the first artificial fiber, rayon. In 1939 Wallace Carothers revenue from products of the distillation of coal, the first synthetic fiber, produced entirely by man nylon.


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