If you wonder how I got started, you might not expect that I woke up one day with an idea out of the blue…..and I didn’t. I had to go back to my roots to find the work that would make me feel content at the end of the day.
I grew up in the high country of Colorado, near Steamboat Springs. My Mom had a herd of dairy goats and I spent a lot of time out in the fields with all the livestock helping in all aspects of their care. I had horses and was very competitive in showing my sheep and goats in 4-H and FFA during my school years.
When my Mom moved the family out here to Washington, I attended college in Portland, Oregon and decided that I liked the city life. So, I put all those memories of my childhood and the enjoyment of the animals behind me and began my adult life. But, I think there was always something missing. I just did not realize it until about 15 years later..
My nephew and I were looking at family photos… pictures of my two sisters and I getting our animals ready for the fair. Kyle was about seven at the time and unlike his Mom, had never been around livestock. He had never seen animals taking care of their young, or had the pleasure of helping care for baby animals. He had never bottle fed a baby animal. I thought right then, that my nephew was missing out on something special.
I was living in a house on 5 acres with a barn. I thought “Here is the perfect chance to let Kyle enjoy some of what his Mom and his Aunts had experienced.” I went out and got three baby calves and three baby kid goats… all to bottle feed. (You might ask “Why three?” Well, if you have ever tried to pick ONE puppy out of a litter for your children, and taken them along…then you know the answer!) I felt then how much I had missed sharing my life with animals.
When I bought my home in Lewis county. My now grown bottle brats moved with me. Eventually I got rid of the cows, but the goats stayed, along with my horse Sadie.
I started thinking about ways to raise goats and make a living too. I attended classes; I studied goat husbandry, learning about health, nutrition, and breeding. In the meantime, other goat clearing businesses had sprung up and were doing well. I started putting out feelers and offering my services. And…I had a few takers… but not many.
The following winter, I was called for jury duty. While chatting with folks there, I talked about my newborn baby kids, and about launching a business with my goats. I had not realized that Brian Mittge, the assistant editor of our Lewis County paper was there. He asked if he could do an article on us. A reporter, Kim Mason and a photographer, Brandon Swanson of The Chronicle came out to the ranch. They spent two and half hours and had a great time. Kim’s article came out on a Monday about 2 p.m. Within 20 minutes of the paper hitting the newsstands, I had 5 phone calls, and it has been busy ever since.
I now get to spend a lot of time with the ladies and gents in my herd. Yes, there are guys too! And the funny thing about it is, I have a new and different kind of relationship with my goats – one that I love more than I can explain. When I am out on a job, working right along with them, pulling down blackberries, and trimming back brush, watching them munch away, I realize that it is more than a job, or a business. It’s a passion and a partnership.
I hope you come out to meet my Baaad Girls and Rebel Guys, maybe at your home, at the WA State fair, or during the Onalaska Apple Harvest Festival. You will get a new perspective on goats; one that dispels any bad reputation or misconceptions. You’ll see that they are affectionate, even loving, curious, smart, hard-working, full of fun and great companions. I think you will see in them what I see, that they are beautiful creatures to whom God gave amazing abilities and wonderful personalities too!