Want Goats? Come to Goat School!

Reader Contribution by Janice Spaulding
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First things first, let me introduce myself. My name is Janice Spaulding and I am a goat addict.

I love big goats, small goats, hairy goats, silly goats, big male goats, little tiny goats, all kinds of goats!We’ve been raising goats for 23 years and in that time have learned (mostly through trial and error) a lot of great information which I love to share! In fact, an education in good goat husbandry is so important to me that in 2004 I created a program which is lovingly called “Goat School.”

Goat School has grown from 12 people on a cold November afternoon to eager crowds, spending a full weekend, twice a year at our farm!

In 2010, we took “Goat School” on the road and, working with interested host farms, presented “Goat School” in other parts of the country. In 2011 we crisscrossed the country doing “Goat Schools” in Vermont, Florida and California and look forward to doing many more “Goat Schools on the Road.”

I live in a very small town, Saint Albans, in central Maine. It’s so small that if you stop at the local market and ask where the goat farm is, they will give you exact directions! It’s fun doing business here.

Of course, living in Maine and raising goats presents some very interesting challenges too! We deal with a lot of very cold and sometimes very snowy weather.

Because of the sub zero temperatures we usually dry our girls off by the end of December so that we can kid in late March and April when the weather is a bit milder. 

This is probably a good place to stop and explain that I am NOT a veterinarian nor do I play one on TV. What I plan to share with you through this blog are the things that work for us, and information that I have gleaned from the great friends we have made over the years. In 23 years we have been blessed to meet both pioneers and entrepreneurs in the goat business, some are professionals in their fields and others are raising goats for the pure enjoyment.

Of course, the question you probably want to ask, is what kind of goats do you raise and what do you do with your products?

We have raised just about every type and breed of goat at one time or another and have ultimately settled into dairy goats. We sell raw goat milk, cheese, and goat milk soaps from our farm and at local farmers’ markets. We are also a Maine state-licensed raw dairy.

We do five markets a week during the warmer weather (June through October) and one market all winter long! Even bitter cold and snow doesn’t keep us away from our Saturday Market in downtown Dexter Maine.    

This photo was taken on January 14. Temperature 18 degrees, snow on the ground and unfortunately 5 to 10 mph breezes. Customers do come out, and one of the local farmers that sets up with us grows some winter crops in hoop houses so he’s able to offer fresh vegetables! Not a huge variety due to our cold climate, but good, fresh, organic veggies, nevertheless. 

In keeping with our goal and desire of providing good goat education, I plan to offer a helpful hint with each blog.

Today’s hint has to do with cold weather kidding:

An inexpensive blow dryer will help dry ears, little hoofs, and tiny testicles quickly and easily to prevent frostbite! First dry the baby well using old towels, then use the blow dryer to make sure these areas are completely dry and warm. 

Taking this simple precaution will help to alleviate those sad little half ears in the breeds with pendulous ears.

Raising goats is an on-going learning experience. When things don’t go as planned, don’t give up, figure out what’s wrong and keep on goating!

Want to learn more about goats?

Be sure to visit our web site www.goatschool.comto learn more about “Goat School” and don’t miss the opportunity to check out my books, The Goat School Manual and Goat School: A Master Class in Caprine Care and Cooking