What a Gift


Chris and Christina Silver raise cashmere goats near Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. When their barn burned down, along with half their herd, the community of spinners, knitters and yarn-shop owners to which they belong, banded together to help.

March 22nd dawned warm in the town of River John, on Nova Scotia's Northumberland Strait.
By 1:30 on that Thursday afternoon, the temperature reached 27 degrees.

That's when the big barn on Chris and Christina Silver's goat farm burst into flames. The volunteer fire department turned their hoses on the blaze. They managed to save the farmhouse, but the barn went, and with it more than half the herd of goats.

The Silvers were just days away from finalizing their insurance.

The Silvers aren't typical farmers. In fact, some might call them overly sentimental. Every goat had a name. Theirs was one of the largest cashmere farms in Canada and the only no-kill cashmere farm in the country.

Over seven years of farming, the Silvers had become part of what is known as the "fibre community" in Nova Scotia; a community of spinners, knitters and yarn shop owners -  practitioners of old-fashioned crafts. When word of the fire got out, those knitters and  spinners banded together to help - in  a very contemporary way.

Karin Wells' documentary What a Gift was first broadcast in May.

Update: By the time bids closed, the Facebook auction raised $7000. Another $28,000 was raised through a combination of community events and private donations, which has allowed the Silvers to make several additions to the barn that survived the fire, to shelter their animals for the winter.

Although they remain cautiously optimistic, they are not yet sure what the future holds for their cashmere business.

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