“Goat Essence” – Photo Card Series

We are celebrating our beautiful goats with a series of goat portrait Photo Cards. The photographs by Bronwyn Silver and Janet Barker were taken over a ten year period and highlight a few of our favourite Cuprines. 

When most people look at our herd of goats they tend to see, well, a herd of goats.

When we look at the herd, we see a group of individual goats, all with definite personalities and traits, we see some strong friendship groups of goats, and then we see the herd as a whole ‘animal’ or ‘goat super-organism’ all of itself.

Goats are very self possessed animals; they are calm, proud and dignified, with a strong sense of self. All goats are individuals with strong personalities, but being a highly social animal, they also hanker for the herd. They have particular friends they hang out with – like 7yo Octavia and 11yo TuTu who have claimed their own special spots in the shed and always sleep together.

We’ve explained before why (and how) we name all our goats – see this previous post (and follow its links for more info). – It’s not just for effect, this method of naming helps with breeding plans and herd management. After 20 years we can still know everyone in the herd and easily keep track of their long lineages. 

When we look at an individual goat, we see more than her name. We also see  -thanks to Obsalim -a whole lot more about the physical and social wellbeing of the goat, thus of the herd, ending in the cheese.

But before all this, we always see the beauty in the goat.

We also love the idea that our Photo Cards can go out into the world where people may not be able to go themselves, especially in these Covid times. Taking the time to write to someone not only eases isolation, but the card – and the goat- stays on.

The Photo Cards (10 cm x 14 cm folded) are available in a pack of eight cards with envelopes at our Farmers’ Markets ($20).

We think the cards portray “Essence of Goat” beautifully. Take a closer look.

From an evolutionary perspective, goats are a prey animal and you can really see that in their constant alertness, especially around the ears and eyes. Ears swivel a full 360 degrees to pickup sounds. Eyes can track 270 degrees (blind spots are front and centre and back). Those wide, rectangular pupils let in lots of light in and allow them to see predators approaching from all sides (and escape routes!) when they are head down and grazing.

See the affectionate gaze that connects us with them. Not like a dog’s affection though, even though goats and dogs were both domesticated with humans thousands of years ago; they identify as goats within their herd, but they also identify separately with us people.

Some of our goats sport beards. This is not necessarily associated with age, though 40% of our herd is aged eight or older. That’s certainly mature by conventional dairy standards. Our “bearded ladies” stay with the herd and continuously lactate. We have long lactations to minimise the stresses of kidding. This season, out of our 99-strong herd, only ten are in kid. Enough for our dairy herd to be sustainable, productive and long-lived.

See the toggles. Not all goats display toggles. These weird hair-covered outgrowths are the subject of much conjecture (there’s still plenty of mystery around the goat…). They are probably evolutionary relics of glands (or gills?!) that the body no longer needs. 

Look behind the goats. See the flourishing native pastures; green in spring through summer and then straw-colored in late autumn. See the lush winter green pick. See the corrugated gal of the lounging sheds – a very cosy spot in winter. The seasonal cycle of the farm underpins everything we do.

These goat portraits provide us with a meditation of and in the goat. We hope you enjoy meditating on our Photo Cards as much as we did selecting and reflecting on the portraits. Goats are incredibly special creatures and it’s a privilege to live and work with them.

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