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  • Writer's pictureTina

It's Just Not Worth It

The Bibbed Wonder and I follow quite a few goat farmers, soap makers, and goat-related pages on the Internet. In the goat farming world, we are newbs. There is a lot of information out there. Some of that information is accurate and useful, and some is well, not so much. We enjoy reading about what other farmers do, how they utilize their land, and how they keep their family farm/business relevant and productive in this fast-paced world.

During the pandemic, we became intrigued by a goat-farming family that makes goat cheese. This family practices removing baby goats from their mamas and bottle-feeding them until they are eight weeks old. While the babies are on the bottle, the family offers the public the opportunity to make a reservation to come to their farm and feed a baby goat a bottle for a fee of $25. They take their "baby goat experience" one step further and offer the public the opportunity to spend one hour alone in the baby goat pen, giving "snuggles" to baby goats. They charge a fee of $75 for their goat snuggling hour. This family also has cameras set up throughout their barn, and they sell subscriptions to a closed channel where one can watch adult and baby goats at any given time for a small monthly fee.

Initially, The Bibbed Wonder and I thought, A) This is ridiculous, and B) This is so ridiculous that it is genius. This ingenious practice led to a solid income for the farmers. Their reservation list was booked months in advance. It seemed people could not get enough baby goat time and were willing to pay for the experience. Who would have thought? Eric and I often say we don't understand people or how this world works. If I'm being transparent, we contemplated offering the same experiences on our farm. However, there were several deterrents. First, one needs reliable internet service to run a live feed subscription. That is something we do not have here. Secondly, we would have to open our farm to the public and have a constant rotation of people coming in and out of our home. We are far too introverted and enjoy our peace and quiet to do this. Third, I am sure it would be an insurance nightmare. Last and most importantly, we worry about the health of our herd. All it takes is one live microorganism to be brought in on someone's shoes, clothing, or person, and our herd could fall seriously ill. Sacrificing our herd's wellness is not worth any dollar amount.

Sadly, dear reader, the latter is what those ingenious goat farmers experienced. After a few years of offering baby goat experiences for a fee, their entire herd became seriously ill. They lost kids and goats, had weeks of doctoring, and had exorbitant vet bills. I'm sure it was a heartbreaking and painful lesson to learn. Suddenly, those fees and that income don't seem so important. Their herd being down affected their entire operation. While the goats were being doctored and taking antibiotics, their milk could not be used for cheese production. It wreaked havoc on their whole life. I'm sorry, but in my simple mind, it isn't worth it.

Sometimes, the lessons we learn from others are invaluable. For this reason, we are careful about who enters our fields and interacts with our goats. We have a lot of friends and family who would love to come and feed our bottle baby, hang out with our lovely ladies, and sit with our littles while they climb and play. However, we are unwilling to take that risk. It isn't anything personal; it's just responsible farming practices. When my nephew was young, he had sheep. I would take him to other sheep farms to look at potential sheep to add to his herd, or we would visit. It was a common practice to have us dip our boots and scrub them in an antibacterial/antimicrobial solution before we entered the barn. At that time, I thought this was a bit over the top, but when one is a guest at someone else's farm, one does what is asked. Now, I understand entirely why these sheep farmers were so diligent about cleanliness and hygiene. In the blink of an eye, an entire herd can be decimated.

For this reason, we don't offer access to our herd during our events here at the farm. Visitors are welcome to view the goats from outside the electric fence, but the fence is a strong deterrent to keep people at a distance. People have asked us if they are allowed to feed treats to our goats. The answer is always a firm but gentle: No, I'm sorry. Not only can disease be introduced to our herd from people's hands, but many treats can upset the delicate balance of the goat's rumen. Truthfully, most of our girls don't take treats because they are treat snobs. We offer apples, licorice, tobacco, and, of course, goat treats, but only a few of the girls will partake. Our billy goats and wethered boys can develop urinary tract crystals if given too many treats. They seem like hardy animals, but their digestive tract is delicate. I don't want to kill my sweet goats with treats given in love.

We hope you will join us for our Springtime At The Farm event on Saturday, May 4, from 9 to 1. You are welcome to enjoy our "goatsies" from a distance. However, because we love our herd, we keep them away from the public. Please keep your fingers crossed that we have nice weather. On this overcast spring day, stay safe, be smart, protect your herd at all costs, and keep washing your hands.

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You have my utmost Respect

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