have always admired people that have a vision of how they want their life to
be and drive towards achieving that goal.
I would like to say that is how George and I came to our love of
goats but….it didn't happen that way.
bought our small farm, located 2.5 miles up a gravel road on the very top of
a hill over looking the coastal range for one main reason; we wanted to get
away from the city. The solitude and tranquility of having 27 acres in the
middle of a forest seemed like the ideal way to escape the hustle and
bustle. Our place is within 30 miles of Portland, the largest city in
Oregon, but you would never know it when you stand in the back of the house
looking out over the trees to the valley below. The red-tailed hawks
circling in the treetops above the mountain seemed to be signaling to us
that this was to be our little bit of heaven.
We bought the farm!
had grown up on a small farm and had raised animals for FFA projects. I
always lived in the suburbs. The closest I ever came to farm animals was
raising gerbils. I've always loved animals. There were always cats and dogs
in our family and I always developed strong bonds with them.
we settled into our new farm, we decided that some animals were in order to
help us get the overgrown pastures under control. After putting up our perimeter fences, we began looking for
the right kind of animals. Beef cows were our first selection.
Shortly after they arrived, they ate everything in sight, tore up the
pastures, and created a huge muddy mess in the winter. I just could not
connect with them.
we sold the cows we began to search again. We visited the Oregon State Fair.
George and I were taking a walk through the animal barns. George said that
the next thing he knew, he is walking by himself. He looked back and saw me
bent over an animal pen. It was love at first sight! Charlotte was our first
Pygora doe along with Casper, the friendly goat, wether to keep her company.
For people that don't own goats, it is difficult to explain the connection
that goats have with humans.
turned out that the goats were an excellent choice for our original
objective for the farm. They went after all of the overgrown and undesirable
brush and weeds in the pastures. They ate things that many other animals
would over look. It was not
long before our pastures were free of blackberries, scotch broom, and a wide
variety of weeds.
soon realized these goats had many other uses besides managing our overgrown
pastures. They also produced a
soft, fluffy fleece that could be spun into a fine luxurious yarn.
goats are a medium sized fiber-producing animal. They can have one of three different fleece types.
All of these fleece types come in a wide variety of colors including
white, gray, brown, black, and caramel.
The Pygora fleece can be harvested by shearing, plucking or combing.
Below is a chart describing the different fleece types.
began building my herd with my Black doe, Charlotte. Like others that get
into something that is new to them, I sought out advice from others that
were more experienced. I was very fortunate to find a group of breeders that
were not only knowledgeable, but also openly shared that knowledge with me.
I will always be grateful for their advice and council.
developed an understanding of the characteristics that have contributed to
good breeding stock. I began to develop a plan about what I wanted the
results of my breeding program to be. I
also took up handspinning so that I could learn what my customers were
looking for in good quality fiber.
many of the articles I've seen from other breeders in GOAT magazine, I
became convinced that good selective breeding practices were the best method
of advancing my goals. I searched for animals that I felt would provide me
the gene pool that would best contribute to those objectives.
foundation to that program is a buck. The choice of the buck is the most
important decision a breeder faces in advancing their program. Eyore (picture
here) is a type-B buck that was the first "permanent Grand
Champion" of the Pygora breed. He throws large, strong- bodied kids
with excellent fleece coverage. Although he is only 1 of 6 bucks that I use
in my program now, his genetic contributions have been one of the key
contributors to my success at shows.
have my herd. What's next?
I began developing a flock I was proud of, I began to search for ways to
interest others in my animals.
PBA (Pygora Breeders Association) is a group dedicated to the advancement
and well being of the Pygora breed. Finding
an organization like this provides invaluable assistance in developing
interest and markets for the animals and their products. I began to devote
some of my time contributing to the organization. I served as the breed
registrar for 2 years and remain active in the group.
group hosts sanctioned shows, distributes information, and provides a
connection between the public and individual breeders. In addition to making
some great friends, I found the group stimulated my interest in creating a
market for my goats and their fiber.
began to think about what I might do to have others put themselves in the
same position I was when I looked into that pen and fell in love with my
very first goat. What could I do to put my animals in a position to be seen
World Wide Web
Internet was the answer! It allowed me to provide frequently refreshed
pictures and information about the animals and their fiber. I began doing a
web page. No, I wasn't a computer expert, I just began. Again, I found some
people with some experience and asked questions. The more I got into doing
it, the more convinced I became that I could get it done. Sure enough,
before long my page was up and my kid list started getting "hits"
from all over the country. In following up on these inquiries, I discovered
there were a lot of different reasons people were interested. They wanted
them for everything from brush eating to 4-H projects for children.
I began to expand my product offerings and have been shipping animals
all over the United States. Because of the size of the animal and the fleece
products, the Internet is an excellent way to get a very shippable product
known to a very large audience.
a result of the Pygora experience, and my work in organizing and running
goat shows, I became convinced of the need for a "fiber and fiber
animal show" dedicated to all fiber animals and plant fibers of all
kinds. Together with 5 other
people, we began planning for the "Oregon
Flock & Fiber Festival". The 3rd annual show will be
held at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby, Oregon on September
I have talked to goat breeders and attended many shows, I also developed an
interest in all types of fiber and fiber producing animals. That has led to
a flock of 80 Icelandic sheep that I also raise on my farm.
husband often says that his FFA experience was the most valuable of all his
formal education. I feel the same way about raising goats. Life values like;
persistence, responsibility, giving and gaining from council with others,
dealing with setbacks and celebrating success have all been a part of
experience as a breeder taught me the value of collaboration, sharing ideas
and the valuable lesson experience teaches.
My Internet experience taught me the value of persistence and the
value of trying to see things from another's perspective. This may be the
reason that things like FFA and 4-H are such wonderful learning experiences
Perhaps the biggest lesson learned is to focus less on the end goal and more from the experiences gained as I strive towards that goal.