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Molly Frey
 
October 16, 2020 | Farm & Garden | Molly Frey

The Joys of Goat Herding

Goats in the forest

I never set out to be a goat herder. When I first moved to the Frey Ranch over a dozen years ago there was a herd of goats that needed caring as their owner was about to go out into the world.  I even shared the same due date with the pregnant goat mamas; the day after I delivered my son at home I walked out to the barn and saw a goat in labor.  “I recognize that look,” I remember distinctly stating as I cradled my newborn in my arms to watch Rosemary, the Nubian goat mother, deliver twins.  In a special way that first goat herd and I were linked by our shared journey into motherhood. 

Fast forward many years to early 2020 when I was finally able to return to living on the Frey Ranch.  After several years contending with displacement by fire, I made my way back to this land that I love.  Before I had even moved my stuff out here, a friend asked if I knew anybody that might want to take care of her Alpine dairy goats while she travelled.  My son enthusiastically replied that we wanted to take on the goats.  By and by, I returned to my pre-fire rhythm of walking through the vineyards with a herd of goats in my wake.  For the past several months the goats have been on the fire break team, helping to munch down pathways in the woods. As soon as the grapes are harvested this fall, we’ll be back in the vineyards, grazing between the rows with this new herd.  In addition to the goat crew, there’s a mixed flock of a dozen sheep.  They’re a blend of Merinos, Navajo Churros, and Cheviots.  Additionally, we have a Jersey cow named Nutmeg and her daughter, a Scottish Highlander and Angus mix. 

A few months after I had landed another friend offered a few dwarf goats that she had been looking to rehome.  Apricot and her grown daughter Peanut came to live with us, too.  Then, out of some caprine serendipity, my neighbor happened to acquire a dwarf buck named “Little Jimmy Dickens” around the same time I came into the two dwarf goat mamas.  Little Jimmy got dropped off for a play date and romanced the dwarf ladies for several weeks.  I’ve never met such a polite and well mannered buck before, and appreciated both Jimmy’s calm demeanor and gentle way of attending to the small dwarf herd during his visit.  The mamas are due this November and I’m sure that we could all use some extra sweetness in the form of baby goats next month.  Sometimes you seek out your vocation, and sometimes goats come scampering into your life, time and time again. 

Sheep grazing

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