The cold weather is arriving in Michigan, but that doesn’t stop Dreamgoats from enjoying the great, wintry outdoors. Since July of this year and throughout November and December, a herd of five fun-loving, floppy-eared Nubian goats are sharing their walks with anyone who wants to join them. A hike through forty acres of woods, marsh and prairie in Ada, MI has you easily mesmerized by their foraging ways and incredible demonstration of quirky love to each other and the humans around them. This community herd teaches people of all ages to love land and animals, and to see themselves as part of the earth, living in and eating from its abundance.
Launched in August 2016 by young female farmer in West Michigan, Leah Sienkowski, Dreamgoats has tackled weedy prairies, patches of poison ivy, and cleared out forests overgrown with invasive species. In their short lives, the goats have improved land and befriended humans across West Michigan. They currently reside at Ada Christian Elementary School, where they bring excitement to the school’s outdoor education program.
“The hikes are a perfect medium for questions and conversation, which is really what I hope to accomplish more than anything else,” says Leah. “I hope that everyone who meets the herd will start to think more expansively about food production and want to interact with it in some way. Whether they are stirred to question their own consumption or just become more curious about how farming works, I hope the goats can be a sort of farm-theatre, and that folks will become curious about their relationship with agriculture – as curious as the goats are about them.”
Along with the hikes, Dreamgoats provides a small milk herdshare, as well as milking demonstrations, school rental and consulting, and has goat kids for sale. But it doesn’t stop with just milk! Dreamgoats also produces other goodies like herbal milk-soaps and Dreamgoats swag. Leah and the herd are committed to regenerative farming, which heals the earth rather than just reduces impact. They’re powered by volunteers and sustained by milk-drinkers, and most importantly: seasonally abundant forage. Want to see them for yourself? Check out the herd in an instant with the Live Goat Cam!
Leah’s creative mind and thoughtful determination helps her dream of farming education continue to grow. She received a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant through the Department of Agriculture last spring to design and engineer a mobile milking parlor. The parlor will allow her to bring this stage on the road to other schools and institutions and to increase people’s access to dairy animals. “Ideally, a school could rent the herd for a day, and we would do invasive species clearing and education, perform a milking demonstration, and provide an onsite petting zoo for students.” Leah is currently in the research stage, speaking with teachers, farmers and administrators about potential impacts. If you’re someone who would be interested in joining in on this conversation, contact Leah at [email protected] to chat about all things goats, and how to expand the education.
Interested in Visiting?
Book your next herd hike with Eventbrite (dates for next season are available for pre-order!), or even a private goat hike or tour. All tours include many goat cuddles, a milking demonstration, basic goat care information, and plenty of time for questions. Educational opportunities are endless with Dreamgoats!
Rebecca Henderson is the West Michigan Local Food Coordinator and also works at Green Wagon Farm in Ada, MI. She enjoyed being a Dreamgoats Milkmaid throughout the 2018-2019 seasons and continues to support the herd and their work. Contact her at [email protected].