You’ve seen historical sights, museums, art, beaches and much more during your travels, but have you ever seen goats? Goats are rapidly becoming a visitor attraction, and goat farms around the U.S. are opening their barnyard doors and welcoming visitors to see the animals, take tours and learn about life on a farm.
At a goat farm, chances are you will meet Billy, Nanny and Buck (the most common goat names). Or maybe you might get a visit with Vincent Van Goatie. Visitors can usually milk a goat, make cheese or explore life on a goat farm. Here are some places around the U.S. for those who want to add visiting a goat farm to their list of experiences:
Surfing Goat Dairy
The goats on Surfing Goat Dairy in Hawaii don’t make it to the waves, they reside on the slopes of Haleakala Crater on the island of Maui. The only goat dairy on the island, casual tours are available: just drop by and meet some Saanen and Alpine goats. Before you depart, visit the shop that features more than 30 different cheeses.
For a more serious experience on the 42-acre farm, the Grand Daily Tour takes two hours, and visitors feed and milk a goat and lead the herd from the pasture to the dairy. Final stop: sampling cheeses produced at the dairy. You get a ribbon that says “I Milked a Goat Today.’’ Farmers Thomas and Eva Kafsack are originally from Germany and traveled around Europe to learn all about cheese making.
Mystery Bay Farm
Mystery Bay Farm in Washington offers a tour that includes a visit to the milking parlor and cheese making facility along with the basic history of goats and sustainable farming. This tour is $10 per person. But if you want to splurge, at both 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. three people can spend $100 and milk the goats along with the basic tour. And if you want more, there is a custom production tour that is for those who want a detailed dairy experience. The price varies.
Alpine goats are in residence along with Rachael Van Laanen, the owner, at this five-acre farm on Marrowstone Island. Cheese making classes, farm dinners and souvenirs are available.
Blue Heron Farm
In Texas, which has the largest population of goats in the U.S., Blue Heron Farm offers tours on their 10.5-acre organic farm. Christian and Lisa are the farmers. Want to get to know the goats before you visit the farm? Go to their website and read detailed profiles of the goats. Kind of like a dating website, only for goats. Tour schedule varies, no tours on Saturdays.
Beltane Farm hosts concerts, wine tastings, cheese tastings and other food and farm gatherings in Lebanon, Conn. The Oberhasli goats (of Swiss origins) are known for producing great cheese. Mark and Paul are the farmers and cheese makers and hosts. Check the calendar on their website for events and where to purchase their products. Many items from Beltane Farm, including yogurt and raw and pasteurized milk, are for sale at area farmer’s markets.
A few goat facts. A doe or a nanny (the correct name for a female goat) can produce three to 5 quarts of milk each day. There are 210 breeds of goats, according to Goatworld.com. Essential info for visitors: wear closed toes shoes.