Michigan Homesteaders Learn How to Raise Goats

These Michigan farmers learn how to raise goats on their own and share their stories of raising an additional three baby goats in the process.

| November/December 1977

These Michigan homesteaders learn how to raise goats the hard way.

These Michigan homesteaders learn how to raise goats the hard way.

Photo By Fotolia/dzain

Michigan homesteaders learn how to raise goats after trading in their cows.

Michigan Homesteaders Learn How to Raise Goats

Hello out there in magazine land . . . Dave Wright here, along with my wife (Virginia) and our two sons (Corey and Mike). We're four self-styled homesteaders trying — with the aid of an ever-increasing number of four-legged companions — to live the good life out here in a small western Michigan community of 700 souls (Kent City) surrounded by a sea of farms.

It's hard to believe we've been here four years. When we first set foot on our farm — bags in hand and babies in arm — we were some of the greenest young idealists you'd ever want to meet. We were prepared to do battle with insects and wild things on their own terms. We were also hungry for air that didn't have to be strained before you could inhale it. And a background noise level somewhere below 500 decibels. And mostly, a better life for ourselves and our children.

We were sure we'd found Valhalla when we moved here from the city. (Valhalla — to us — was one entire acre of our own land, with a house, two small sheds, and 60 dwarf fruit trees of all kinds.) We had everything we wanted . . . we thought. But then, two years later, when a 10-acre parcel next to us came up for sale . . . well, once again, we hocked our socks and bought it.

So now we hold contracts on all of eleven acres and we're mortgaged up to our foreheads, but by our standards it's worth every cent we owe. With this investment, we're assured of a never-ending supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, naturally grown. Forever. And that means a lot to us.

As time rolled by, we undertook many and varied ventures, one of which was the raising of day-old chicks to laying hens. This program — let me assure you — did not go unnoticed by our neighbor's dog, who (at the appropriate time) became a part of our farm problems. With the money my neighbor gave me for his canine's "midnight snack", however, I was able to purchase two calves from a local farmer. (The animals were only three days old and took a lot of work to raise, but they pulled through and it was fun.) One thing led to another, and soon I was raising more young steers to veal (or feeder calf) size and selling them at the local livestock auction.

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