I can’t think of a more exhilarating way to spend a warm summer’s day than in the company of goats. Until recently my only experience with a goat was as a child. For a while my family had a goat we unimaginatively named Billy. I think he was on loan from a larger farm as my father liked to expose my sisters and me to different animals. We thought Billy was entertaining and fun, but after he ate 12 blooms off my mother’s prized geranium plant, he was sent packing!
Recently I met many more goats when I took “The Goat Cheese Making Class” from The Goat Cheese Lady, Lindsey Aparicio, at her family’s farm in Penrose, CO (www.thegoatcheeselady.com). Not only did my three friends and I learn how to make three varieties of goat cheese, we used the milk we had milked from the goats that morning! We also learned all about the goats and the workings of the farm, then enjoyed a wonderful brunch that included the bread and goat cheese we made ourselves, the eggs we collected from the hens, and a fresh green salad. Gourmet chefs eat your hearts out. This simple, homemade repast was one of the best meals any of us ever had!
Memories of the day are all sprinkled with sun, laughter, and the gentle bleatings of goats of all sizes. Did I mention we got to help herd a bunch of young goats from their pen to an open pasture? Hilarious. Driving home I realized there is much to be learned by spending a day in the company of goats.
First, be willing to greet people you don’t know yet. The gentle calls of the goats when we first got out of our car began the relationships that became much more intimate when we learned to coax milk from their udders. I won’t say we became bosom buddies, but we sure got closer!
Second, know who to trust and then trust completely. When we were milking the goats, Lindsey cautiously held their back legs because our hands were strange to them and they might react and step in the milk. But when Lindsey or her son André were milking the goats, they totally relaxed. They knew who to trust.
Third, remember that giving and receiving are intrinsically connected. As the female goats willingly gave their life-giving milk they got sweet feed to munch. They also enjoyed the relief that came from being milked, as any lactating mom will attest. Giving and receiving. Both are blessings.
And lastly, if a gate opens, run through it! My friends and I were a bit tired at the end of the day. After all, herding goats wasn’t a normal daily activity for any of us. But we were so glad we had leapt at the opportunity. Just like those darling and daring baby goats.