At the end of November, we here at Many Feathers had the delightful opportunity to visit Julia at Silver Hoof Farm, a regular at our Market, who sells a variety of handmade goat-milk soaps. Julia was kind enough to show us around, allowing us to meet her lovely goats while sharing with us some amazing information about her farm and animals.
Julia and her mother Tatyana, having lived in Toronto for many years, moved to Vineland nearly four years ago; and in the spirit of country living, her mother decided to purchase their first pair of goats. It’s important to mention that goats are very social and should be kept in groups because they always need someone of their own kind. You can't buy and keep one goat, it'll go insane with boredom!
Passion project turned business, Silver Hoof Farm wasn’t entirely intentional on Julia’s part. She ended up becoming far more involved after being charmed by the goats. Amidst the herd grazing and exploring the surroundings Julia says, "I never really planned on goats, but I fell in love with them"
Picturesque off a side road in Vineland, the property is a safe haven for the goats, with the Spring Creek flowing through the backdrop of the conservation areas’ beautiful forest, and an open clearing for the goats to congregate outside their barn. This was evident, when, as soon as we arrived at the barn, Julia let the goats out all at once, throwing one kid into Sam’s arms, and another into Kevin’s (the happiest moment of their lives), while the rest of the herd yelped in happiness and ran out into their clearing to enjoy the beautiful November afternoon.
At 18 goats and counting, the farm has grown through their lived experiences alongside support from other goat. They have been working on their farm for 3 years and in that time they have welcomed several kids and have honed their knowledge on the ins and outs of goat keeping. On our trip we specifically had the privilege of meeting the newest additions to the farm. The two babies were 13 days old and the sweetest, with their mother not leaving their side, albeit constantly smelling them to check, for sure, that they were hers.
Julia’s affectionate Nubian goats were incredibly similar to dogs, craving love and attention and even answering to their names; the more time we spent the more we learned about their personalities. Each with their own unique names, such as Snooki and her son Lorenzo, the goats personified themselves through their actions, and quickly became easy to tell apart.
After a while of meeting and holding the babies we were able to take the goats on a walk out of their meadow and into the bordering forest. Midway through our walk, the goats quickly realized that the other half of the herd were still in the meadow being fed by Julia's mother.
As we led them through the forest we heard about 10 goats bleating as loudly as they could, which - if you haven’t heard before, sounds hilarious and terrifying at the same time. At this point Julia reminisced about the first time her neighbours heard the bleating goats in the forest, and thought it to be a person screaming.
This is when our visit had its most dramatic moment. We were witness to a group of goats trying to sound off to locate the other. We can only imagine the goats at the entrance were saying , "Where are you?" and the goats with us were all frantically replying "Here! Here! Here!"
A few tense moments later Julia led the goats to the entrance and they leapt into action. While the goats were rushing to meet in the middle of a forest clearing we realized that they might not be flock-oriented but they are social and miss their friends when apart.
After spending some of the afternoon in the forest with the herd and their trusty pal the barn cat, we returned to the clearing where we continued to discuss Julia’s life with their goats. It is easy to tell that these goats live a happy life, fulfilled with the nature of the property, and provided with constant love. Their well-behaved nature proves it evident that the goats are very much loved and cared for, which Julia explains is her goal.
It truly is amazing to see how much dedication Julia and Tatyana provide to the goats. Not only are the females milked every day, but they also ensure they get to go outside as much as possible, despite having to be under constant supervision since there is no fencing on the property.
Not to mention that on top of all of this, Tatyana uses the goat manure in her own permaculture garden, growing fruits and vegetables in the summer months. While Maleeha stepped away to learn more, the goats returned to their pens and settled in for the evening.
This was a great opportunity to get to know these complex and smart animals, and a chance for us to learn what it takes to run a goat farm. It provided us with a fresh insight on how much these farmers do to provide for our cities. Julia is dedicated and her hard work truly shows in the happiness of her goats.
This visit Julia and Tatyana provided, gave us a glimpse at a few hours in the life of one of our local farmers, proving just how hard they work day in and day out to create amazing, natural products that we are so lucky to display at our farmer’s market.
You can find Silver Hoof products natural goat milk at the upcoming Many Feathers Markets, at other local markets, or through her online store!
Thanks for having us Silver Hoof Farm!