My husband and I make a special trip to Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero each Spring to see the baby goats and this year was no exception. When we stopped by on Saturday (after tide pooling at the beach), we not only visited Dee Harley‘s herd of American Alpine goats and adorable two day old babies, we also had the good fortune to witness a birth! We were thrilled! In the six years that we’ve been visiting, this was a first! But before I get to that, allow me to show you around the farm.
These charming handmade “goat girl” signs lead the way to the farm, all the way from California Highway One. We parked by the new farm shop, opened just this year. Here you can find goat milk lotion and soap, copper garden tools, handmade pottery, hand knit baby blankets and the farm’s own special blend of all-natural milk paint. Made with chalk, flax seed oil, casein, goat milk and natural pigments, this non-toxic biodegradable paint is used on all of the farm signs as well as on the walls and furniture in the mercantile shop.
Moments before I made this image, the black and white goat on the left gave birth to twins. Here you see one of the newborns attempting to stand up for very first time. The very pregnant doe on the right helped the mother goat lick her babies clean and dry.
With one baby up and nursing, attention is now focused on the other tiny newborn.
Here, the mother goat and one baby have stepped away. Meanwhile, the pregnant doe continued to gently lick the other newborn. According to Wyoming rancher, writer and one of my favorite bloggers, Shreve Stockton, “Sometimes, a cow will “psychologically calve” right before they physically calve.” Just like Shreve’s dairy cow Fiona, I think this pregnant female “felt compelled to start mothering, even though she hadn’t had her baby yet.” I wish we had stuck around a bit longer because I’m willing to bet that this doe gave birth a short time later – just as Shreve describes in her post “Fiona is a Mom.”
Here you see the pregnant doe gently nudging the tiny newborn to stand up while mom looks on (the nursing twin is hidden from view). At this point, I put the camera down and simply watched with my eyes. It was quite special.
Afterwards, we headed to the cheese shop where we purchased some chevre, a dozen farm fresh eggs from pasture raised hens and a couple dozen homemade ricotta ravioli (delicious served with a brown butter sage sauce!), and climbed the stairs up to the barn loft for a view of the pasture. Tony’s pen is in the center of this image, to the left of the garden. The people on the far left are watching the newborn twins with their mom.
If you’d like to see the “kids” this year, you should plan on visiting Harley Farms by the end of April – they expect 200 babies to be born in the next six weeks! Visitors can participate in an organized two hour farm tour (advanced registration is required, $20 per person) or you can simply drop by to taste and buy cheese, as well as watch the goats, and their protective llamas, in the pasture. Afterwards, I highly recommend visiting the town of Pescadero (cute shops & good eats) as well as Pescadero State Beach – great for long walks, picnics and tide pooling. My post about Pescadero Beach, complete with restaurant information and tide pooling photographs, can be found here.