It should come as no surprise to anyone that we love our goats. Every goat is different, has their own unique personality and of course their own name. Some are friendly, some shy. Some of them won’t leave Aden’s side, while others will follow me wherever I go. Some can’t get enough nettles, others can’t stand them! Our goat Dottie loves picking Aden’s handkerchief out of his back pocket whenever he is visiting them – none of the other goats do that! Cookie and her daughter Dolores love jumping on rocks, whereas Tina likes to spend her time just sitting in the sun, ruminating.
There are so many different kinds of goats. Lots of people raise Nigerian Dwarfs because they’re prolific, easy to care for, and produce an extremely high fat-content milk that can get great for making some cheeses. We used to know a family that raised Fainting Goats – the best part about them is that when they escape, they’re easy to catch! Some people raise goats for meat (not us, ever!) and others raise goats for cashmere wool. We, of course, raise dairy goats, and in our humble opinion, they’re the absolute best type of goat!
Even among dairy goats, there are all sorts of different breeds. There are Nubian goats, with their big floppy ears, and LaMancha goats, with very short ears! We had a Toggenburg dairy goat once that we named after NPR correspondent Nina Totenburg, and we’ve raised a few Oberhalsi over the years as well.
All of our goats now are Alpine and Saanen diary goats. Saanen dairy goats are all white and some of the biggest milk producers in the dairy goat world. Alpines produce a ton of milk as well, and come in a wide range of colors. There are some that think Alpines are a lot friendlier than other types of dairy goats, and while we have had a lot of sweet Alpine goats over the years, our Saanens are all very friendly as well!
We started our current herd more than a decade ago, while I was finishing up law school. Some of our first goats actually came from a convent up here in Vermont! What we were told at the time was that the nuns were getting too old, and the goats too large (more than 150 pounds each)! They were Alpine goats with beautiful Chamoisee colorings (a light, almost silvery brown). The nuns who entrusted us with their care were some of the kindest people we had ever met, and our herd grew naturally over the years from those goats: one of the male kids – Chip, and then eventually his son, Giles (also named after another NPR correspondent: Giles Snyder), sired all of the goats we still have today.
We had no idea (and, of course, neither did they) that some day they would be returning to Vermont to continue munching on those luscious Green Mountains. While I’m sure they would prefer some milder winters, they have never been happier as they are when picking through the abundant foliage that grows here from Spring through Fall.