The Thankful Goat: A Micro-Farm Flourishes (With Recipe)


| 6/30/2014 8:45:00 AM


Tags: goats, farmers market, beginning farming, WWOOF, North Carolina, Tori Degen,

farm familyA napkin. That’s what prompted her first farm vision. It was January 2010, and Dawn Mathews had purchased her first goat, Athena, a few months prior. A woman, a goat, and a really big dream scribbled out on a napkin. Dawn is the first to admit that she had no idea what she was getting into.

Fast forward to four years later, and today you’ll find Farmer Dawn and her family running their flourishing farm, The Thankful Goat, in Granite Falls, North Carolina.

Soon after she and her husband Steve began saying “Good night” to the goats each evening, they realized “the girls” would shout back something that sounded very similar to “Thaaaaaanks!” so they appropriately named their farm in honor of the gratitude their goats expressed. And the Mathewses themselves have plenty they are thankful for. They have meat rabbits, dairy goats, ducks, laying hens and a three-season garden that contains “any vegetable you can think of.” Dawn makes hand-crafted goat milk soaps, lip balms, lotions and bath products, while milking and making cheese from her girls’ milk . . . all on one half acre.

Running a WWOOF USA Farm

“We are a micro farm. We have an all-inclusive farm, just on a small scale,” explains Dawn. “It’s what every home used to do decades ago. So many people are now getting back to this – growing their own food.”  So many people that the Mathews decided to open their doors to young people from across the country who have an interest in organic farming. This month marks their two year anniversary with the WWOOF-USA program (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA), a period during which they have hosted over 60 WWOOFers on their farm. “We are a teaching farm, so we actually teach WWOOFers homesteading skills as opposed to just weeding and watering crops, or feeding and watering animals,” said Dawn. “Milking, soap making, cheese making, quilting, sewing, jam making, canning, cooking, animal processing, tanning hides, hunting . . . anything they are interested in, we have time for.”

Hosting visitors has been a mutually enriching educational and cultural experience for all involved. “Dawn has a great vision for her small patch of land, and it's really awesome to see how she puts every inch to good use,” recalled Jonathan Oh, who came down from Virginia to visit the farm for over a month. “They are very eager to teach,” said WWOOFer Laura Sherry from Maryland. “I learned about building, quilting, canning, dehydrating, soap making and caring for animals . . . I recommend visiting to anyone interested in small scale farming and general self-reliance.”

people and goats




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