celebrating a sense of place

Although owning and showing goats is a lot of fun, Maeve is quick to point out, it’s also a lot of work. “Goats need to have their stalls cleaned frequently even in the middle of winter to make sure they are clean and happy. They need to be put out in their pasture daily, unless there is bad weather. They should be fed at least two times a day, sometimes more during winter. Hooves need to be trimmed almost every month.

 Another important aspect of caring for goats is that they are herd animals, which means you need to keep multiple goats at the same time, adding to the work required. Some people  also own milking goats, which must be milked twice a day, or every 12 hours. I only have pet goats so it is a little less work.”

Jana adds, “It’s always better to have more space for your goats then less. They shouldn’t be crowded. Goats enjoy having platforms to hang out and sleep on inside and outside of the barn. Our pastures are around 50 X 80 feet for approximately 15-20 goats. If you plan on milking, you need a clean space to set up the milk stand and other equipment. You’ll need storage 

Jana and Brielle..

Goats just seem to find their way to Wade and Bonnie of Warren County. It all began in 2008 when Wade’s nephew, Michael, an animal control officer, found a stray, bedraggled Alpine goat wandering around a suburban area. Knowing his kind-hearted uncle was an animal lover, lived on a country property with a barn only used to house a car, Mike asked his relatives to adopt the goat.    At first, Wade was skeptical.  He knew nothing about goats and assumed the stray would be disinterested in people. But since he and Bonnie were long-time dog lovers and had rescued several canine companions, they decided to help the goat.  It would become the start of a long-time passion for rescuing goats.

Bozeman, as they christened their new pet, wasn’t particularly friendly. He didn’t seem to have had much human contact. Plus, he was sad, lonely and crying a lot.  The couple soon learned from their caprine vet that because goats are herd animals, Bozeman needed a friend.  So they set out to find him some company. Over the years their herd grew.   Almost all have been rescued. They have both standards and dwarfs. “They are my life,” Wade says.  “I love them to death.  They kiss and hug (us) and will follow us around the property.” In fact, in good weather Wade particularly enjoys walking the grounds with his goat herd.

From breeding to showing, to making soap, and just having them around, goat fanciers endlessly enjoy and are entertained by their special pets.  Go goats!

Loren Spiotta-DiMare is a nationally-recognized adult and children's book author, magazine journalist and publicist. To see more of her work, visit lorensreadingroom.com

space for feed and hay. We like to clip the goats for the summer months because it helps to control external parasites. You have to be vigilant about internal parasites. They should be on some kind of worming schedule.” 

Talisa, also of Hunterdon County, is smitten with her Pygmies. “I love their cute chubbiness,” she says.   While does and wethers are usually recommended as pets, Talisa relays, “The breed is very sweet and playful. People are always amazed how loving and personable they are even my old does and bucks.  Their size and temperament make them totally safe to keep with horns.  All of my goats have their horns and in 10 years, I’ve never once had the slightest problem.  About 85% of our kids go to homes with young children and I always receive great pictures and comments on how well the goats get along with the children.”

Donna grew up in Brooklyn but always dreamed of living on a farm.  Finally, she had the opportunity to move to Hunterdon County and fulfill her dream. The property she and her husband, Vinay, purchased already had a small, two-stall horse barn. They updated and expanded the barn by replacing the dirt floor with pavers.  The original feed room was turned into a medical room and a new goat section was added. The latter boasts three Kidding Pens where does give birth and care for their kids. There’s also a large common area for the older female goats to play in. The walls of the pens and common area are only a few feet high so visiting children can easily see the goats.   (In addition to goats, the Desai’s have three horses including a mini, Alpacas and one Llama, as well as a flock of chickens and guinea hens.) 

Vinay, a native of India, is a pharmaceutical scientist. He developed a line of Goats’ Milk Ayurvedic  soaps. (*Ayurvedi is an Indian science of natural healing through herbs and plants.) Combined with essential oils and herbs, the various soaps are hypoallergenic and moisturizing.  Using his last name, the soap is called Dr. Desai Soap. The Desais also have yarn and apparel made from the hypoallergenic fleece from their Alpacas.  The soaps and fleece products are available for purchase in their at-home boutique.

Donna, Vinay and their daughters thoroughly enjoy their farm life and like to share it with others. The couple encourages families, especially those who have children with special needs, to take advantage of all the farm has to offer.   Appointments for private visits can be made throughout the year free-of-charge. Of all their animals, Donna is particularly smitten with her goats.  “They are very intelligent and like to play,” she says. Known to be affectionate she adds, “They’ll even cry for you.”

Looking to retire, horse owner Lori and her husband, Donald, bought a farm with property that was in Farmland Assessment. The original owners grew hay, but Lori was interested in trying something more interactive. Donna encouraged her to raise dairy goats.  Intrigued, and already an animal-lover, Lori followed up on the suggestion and purchased six goats from Donna in 2010.  She now has a herd of 53! To say she has fallen completely in love with goats is an understatement.   Lori especially enjoys showing her goats and breeding for kids with lovely general appearance and correct udders, whether they’ll be headed to show or pet homes.   (Udders are judged in breed classes.)

 Expounding on the virtues of goats, Lori says, “They know their names. They’re easy to handle and are very friendly.” Lori’s miniature goats are Nigerian Dwarfs. Kids are disbudded (horns burned off) when they are very young which is a common practice. When I went to visit Lori and her goats, she had two, six-day old doelings, Pandora and Cheyenne. It was difficult to resist scooping one up and taking her home.

“No goats!” my husband said emphatically. I was in my Pygmy Goat phase – completely smitten with these miniature caprines. But since we lived in Suburban South Orange and already had two dogs, a rabbit, an Amazon Parrot, plus a few small pet birds, it didn’t seem like the right time to push for a Pygmy.

We live in Hunterdon County now and our animal family has grown. Our parrot is 50-years-old, and we also have a horse, several dogs, two rabbits, 20 small birds and a Koi pond. There’s certainly no lack of inspiration for an animal writer around here.  And I dare say, we may have a few pint-size Pygmies in the future.

What is the allure of goats, miniatures in particular?  First and foremost, they are just too darn cute.  Even their names are adorable.  Young goats are kids: the boys are bucklings and the girls, doelings.  But city dwellers and suburbanites might wonder “what can you actually do with a goat?”  “Plenty!” New Jersey country folk would respond.

To start, both Nigerian Dwarfs and Pygmy Goats make wonderful pets and show animals. Sixteen-year-old Maeve of Somerset County and seventeen-year-old Jana of Hunterdon County both enjoy participating in their County 4-H Goat Clubs. When Maeve was younger, one of her friends was involved in the 4-H with her goats.   At the time, she had three new kids and was looking for help with them.  Maeve instantly fell in love with the goats and decided to try to train one to show.

Today, Maeve has two Nigerians of her own, Frodo and Pippen. She enjoys taking them on long walks in the pasture and preparing Pippen for shows. At 4-H Fairs, she likes to share her special animal companions with other children who are eager to pet them and learn about goats.  She also enjoys participating in breed and obstacle classes. 

Jana has owned goats for about 12 years and has been breeding them for seven. Her family purchased their first two in 2003, so she and her sister could join the 4-H and participate in various 4-H and Open Goat shows (Not affiliated with the 4-H. Open to anyone with registered goats.)

“We started out with two little Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats because they are much smaller than standard dairy goat breeds, and suited to the small three acres that we live on,” Jana explains. “We also wanted a dairy breed so we could use the milk to drink, cook with, and our favorite thing to do, use the milk to make soap!”

Jana also likes to show her goats.  She particularly enjoys the preparation. “I love clipping, grooming, and making them look the best they can for each show,” Jana says. Being able to see them succeed in shows is very rewarding and reminds me of all the hard work we put into our herd. When it’s not show season, however, I enjoy hanging out with the goats and walking them around our yard. I especially like playing with the kids and always have my favorites.”

There are several different ways to show goats. Maeve explains some of them, “Showmanship classes judge how someone handles their goats. You are judged on your ability to control and also present your animal in the best way possible. There are also Fitting classes which focus on grooming and clipping the goat and how clean they are. The judge checks how well their hooves are trimmed in this class. Then there are Breed classes where you compete against other goats in the same age range and breed as your goat. This is judged on specific breed characteristics that change depending on the breed. These classes are split into Wether (neutered males), Doe and Buck classes, and then normally divided by ages if there are enough goats at the show.”

Above Left: Wade and one of his rescue goats. Right: Maeve and Pippen.


Go Goats!

By Loren Spiotta-DiMare