For the Love of Goats
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Today’s guests first visited Antiquity Oaks Farm about 17 years ago when they were traveling across the United States looking for all things goat. That year-long trek from the east coast to the west was chronicled in their book, Year of the Goat, which was originally published in 2007.
This year, in honor of its 15th anniversary, the publisher is bringing it back with an all-new introduction, sub-title, and cover, as well as lots of photos that were not in the original book.
In today’s episode, author Margaret Hathaway and her husband, photographer Karl Schatz, are talking about how that year changed the trajectory of their lives. Like me, they went from a couple of clueless city slickers to goat breeders and farmers.
In addition to reminiscing about their visit 17 years ago when we had our first baby goat in the house, we also talk about some of their other adventures and how this book is a great read for anyone who thinks they might want to do something with goats but isn’t sure exactly what.
Although they started their trek with the idea that they’d become cheesemakers, ultimately they started their own homestead and today they have an agritourism business with goat hikes as their main attractions, which was the subject of an episode with Margaret last year.
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For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. And now, here is Deborah Niemann.
Deborah Niemann 0:19
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode. This is a really special episode for me, because I am getting the opportunity to reconnect with a couple people that I met, like, 17 or 18 years ago—very early in our homesteading and our goat journey. And that is Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz. Margaret is the author of the book The Year of the Goat, and the photos in there are done by her husband, Karl. Welcome to the show today!
Margaret Hathaway 0:50
Oh, thanks for having us! It’s so great to see you.
Karl Schatz 0:52
It’s great to see you again.
Deborah Niemann 0:53
Yeah, it’s awesome to have you guys back and to talk to you again. We talked to Margaret last year about the agritourism that you guys do on Ten Apple Farm, and I was so excited when she said that her—your—first book, The Year of the Goat, was going to be reprinted. Because that’s how we met.
Margaret Hathaway 1:12
Deborah Niemann 1:12
And, we’re actually in the book. I felt so famous when I saw the first book, because we were, like, just your average little goat farm back then. I mean, you know, honestly, at this point, most people who had goats back then are probably gone. Like, they left the farm, and the goats, and everything. But, we totally fell in love with them. And, you know, have just gotten deeper and deeper into goats over the years.
Karl Schatz 1:39
I’m trying to remember how we even found you. Like—
Margaret Hathaway 1:43
Yeah, I’m not sure how we got connected with you. Someone must have made the introduction.
Karl Schatz 1:47
Margaret Hathaway 1:47
I mean, it was really pre-, like—
Deborah Niemann 1:50
Margaret Hathaway 1:51
Karl Schatz 1:52
Yeah, we were Googling and looking for things, but it wasn’t the way it is now where just, like, you know, everything comes up. So.
Margaret Hathaway 2:00
And it’s funny, because you talk about yourself being, like, new to it then. But you seem so seasoned. And, like, your family was… I mean, we still talk about—
Karl Schatz 2:10
Everyone was really involved.
Margaret Hathaway 2:11
Yeah! We still talk about what an inspiration, like, your family, your three kids… Like, we really, very consciously modeled a lot of what we do on your farm.
Karl Schatz 2:21
Margaret Hathaway 2:22
So, it’s funny to think that you were still at the early stage then, because, you know, you were like mentors to us.
Deborah Niemann 2:29
Yeah, it’s so funny, because I had the Antiquity Oaks blog back then—which was just an online diary. I mean, that’s what blogs were back then. You know, and so I was just writing, you know, daily entries about like, “Oh, this is what happened on the farm today.” And somebody commented, “Hey, I’m following this other blog called ‘The Year of the Goat.’ You should check them out.” And so, when I did, I was like, “Oh, my gosh! I should contact you guys.”
Karl Schatz 2:58
Maybe that’s how it happened. Maybe you contacted us. And we were like, “All right, we’re going to be driving through. Let’s go visit.”
Margaret Hathaway 3:04
‘Cause we, right when—
Karl Schatz 3:05
‘Cause we were absolutely… You know, if anyone reached out to us, we’re like, “All right, we’re going there.”
Margaret Hathaway 3:10
“Turn the car.”
Deborah Niemann 3:12
Margaret Hathaway 3:13
Oh, it was so amazing what you were doing then. And I mean, we follow your career now. So. Amazing what you’re doing now.
Deborah Niemann 3:21
So funny, because, like, that was the year that, like, we had our first challenges with kids. And I know Carmen played a pretty prominent role in your blog post that you wrote about your visit. And there’s also a picture of her in the book, because she was, like, the first kid we almost lost.
Deborah Niemann 3:42
You know, we were new. It’s like, we’d only been at it for 3 years. I thought her mother would be in labor for, like, 2 or 3 days. Like, we would not leave her. Like, she was in the barn; you know, somebody was with her all the time. And finally, I was just like, “We have no idea what we’re doing. She’s clearly not in labor.” Like, “We just, we have to go to the grocery store.” I’d been putting off grocery shopping for days. And so, like, everybody, I’m like, “Let’s just get dressed and go.” And everybody did. And I’m like, “Just, okay. Jonathan, one last time, just run to the barn. Make sure Dancy’s okay.”
Deborah Niemann 4:15
He comes running back and goes, “There’s three kids, and one of them might be dead!” And it was like, “Oh my gosh!” I went running to the barn, and there are these two big bucklings that are walking around, nursing and stuff. And there was this tiny little doe, like, laying in the straw, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, is she alive?” And I picked her up, and I called my goat mentor, and, you know, she told me everything. And, like, “Okay, she’s got hypothermia. This is how you warm her up,” and everything. And then I wound up tube-feeding her, and it was just like… I was so scared it was gonna kill her. And, you know, we wound up bottle-feeding her, and I took a picture of her. I don’t know. If you guys have more pictures, I would love—
Karl Schatz 4:58
Oh, I have a ton of pictures of her. Yeah. I just remember how small she was. I couldn’t believe how small. And I was like, “I didn’t know goats could be made that small.” She was so tiny.
Deborah Niemann 5:08
Margaret Hathaway 5:09
And she was so soft. I think that was, like, our first experience with, like new baby goats, how soft they are. Oh…
Deborah Niemann 5:17
Margaret Hathaway 5:19
We’re just gonna reminisce about this one particular sweet little Carmen!
Deborah Niemann 5:23
I know! And Carmen, she was, like, our first homegrown champion. I did a podcast episode on how much should you help with goat birthing, and I talked about Carmen and how… You know, because some people would have said, “Well, shouldn’t you have just let her die?” Like, you know, “Survival of the fittest?” And it’s like, “No, actually, she turned out to be, like, the matriarch of my most parasite-resistant line.” You know, like, most of her progeny have never had a dewormer in their lives. Like, they’re incredibly hardy. She just got unlucky, you know? Her placental attachment wasn’t as good as her brothers. And, you know, we gave her that little help she needed at birth, and then she grew up to be an incredibly healthy, productive goat. She was our first homegrown champion. So, I mean, she was awesome in so many ways. The first goat to get a milk star…
Margaret Hathaway 6:13
That’s amazing! I love that. I love that that’s her, like, how she grew up.
Karl Schatz 6:18
Yeah, and I’ve got multiple lines of doe lines coming down from her. So, it was just fabulous.
Deborah Niemann 7:18
So, tell everybody: We want to talk about your book. What was the original idea behind The Year of the Goat?
Karl Schatz 6:32
I think the original idea was, we were living in New York City, although neither of us are really city people, per se. I grew up in Maine, and Margaret grew up in Kansas, so certainly not the big city. And, we were just having fantasies of not being in the city anymore, and what would we do, and somehow hit on the idea of goats and making goat cheese. But we really didn’t know anything about goats, or cheesemaking for that matter, and so decided to use the skills we did have, which was writing and photography. So Margaret, you know, was a writer and had worked in book publishing, and I was a photographer and photo editor at the time. And so, we put those skills to use and envisioned, you know, doing the sort of travel research, you know, project that we called The Year of the Goat.
Margaret Hathaway 7:24
And it was the Zodiac the year of the Goat. So, that was—
Karl Schatz 7:24
That was, I think, one of the signs.
Margaret Hathaway 7:29
—one of the, like, signs. We, you know, were looking to the stars for, like, should we abandon our lives and actually go on this madcap adventure? And the fact that it was the year of the Goat seemed like a nudge in that direction.
Karl Schatz 7:41
Yeah. Yeah. So we quit our jobs, put everything in storage, and started driving all over—
Margaret Hathaway 7:47
Borrowed your parents’ car—
Karl Schatz 7:49
Yeah, borrowed a car—
Margaret Hathaway 7:49
—for a year.
Karl Schatz 7:51
—and just started… The first thing, we started by looking up kind of, like, larger events. Like, well, you know, we went to an ADGA convention, and we went to the Millington, Tennessee, Goat Days Family Festival. So, like, things that were kind of more publically…
Margaret Hathaway 8:08
Karl Schatz 8:08
Festivals, and conferences, and conventions. And so, we started going to those and meeting people there. And then, those people would say, “Oh, you should really go visit,” you know, “so and so.” And we ended up in places like Split Creek Farm in South Carolina and meeting Evin Evans—
Margaret Hathaway 8:08
Who’s since then passed.
Karl Schatz 8:15
Margaret Hathaway 8:20
—and just forming sort of a network. And, you know, our original idea was that we wanted to be cheesemakers, to have a licensed dairy, and to sort of get into that world. And then, the more people we met, the more examples we had of different ways of raising goats, the more we ended up, ultimately, on a diversified homestead, where we’re really, you know, trying to close the circle between production and consumption. And we have an agritourism business now.
Karl Schatz 8:54
During the Year, we weren’t just looking at, like, dairy goats. Anything that had anything to do with goats. So, like, we went to the circus in Florida, where they’re training goats to the circus, and we went to the mohair warehouse in…
Margaret Hathaway 9:09
Somewhere in Texas.
Karl Schatz 9:10
San Angelo, was the mohair?
Margaret Hathaway 9:12
San Angelo was the livestock—
Karl Schatz 9:13
Or Sonora. Sonara.
Margaret Hathaway 9:14
It was Sonora.
Karl Schatz 9:14
Yeah. Sonora, Texas, where there’s, like, you know, it’s like the mohair capital of the world, where we went to an Angora goat shearing. And we went goat-packing in—
Margaret Hathaway 9:22
Karl Schatz 9:24
—Wyoming, and, you know, basically anything that had anything to do with goats, whether it was dairy or fiber or meat or entertainment, we would drive. And I think, by the end of the year, we put over 40,000 miles on the car and visited 43…?
Margaret Hathaway 9:41
Karl Schatz 9:41
Forty-three of the sort of 48 contiguous states. We never made it to Alaska or Hawaii. One of these days maybe we will.
Margaret Hathaway 9:49
Yeah, maybe. If we can get a goat-sitter.
Karl Schatz 9:51
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. And that was The Year, and then we came back at the end of the year—
Margaret Hathaway 9:58
And we had a blog. Like, as you said, it was early in blogging.
Karl Schatz 10:01
Yeah, very early days.
Margaret Hathaway 10:01
But, we had a blog that we were posting to, sort of once a week, about our exploits.
Karl Schatz 10:06
Yeah. Which is still up. You can still go read some of our early entries.
Margaret Hathaway 10:10
Well, maybe you shouldn’t. Kind of wordy. Though, the photos are great.
Karl Schatz 10:16
Go look at the photos.
Margaret Hathaway 10:17
Yeah, look at the photos. Skip the wording.
Deborah Niemann 10:18
Oh, I thought that the blog was great. I loved following you guys on the blog after I met you and, you know, learned about you and stuff. Because it was… I still had a very narrow view of what goats were like back then. You know, because, I mean, I knew nothing when I started in 2002. So, by the time you guys came by, I knew a little about Nigerian Dwarf goats. But, I don’t think I really even knew hardly anybody at that point that had goats, other than the person that I had bought goats from. Maybe… The few people I had bought goats from—
Karl Schatz 10:52
Deborah Niemann 10:53
—and a few people on Yahoo Groups.
Margaret Hathaway 10:55
Yeah. You know, I think our travels really, like, opened our mind to how we could raise goats. You know, I think that was one of the good thing about our visits, for us.
Karl Schatz 11:06
Yeah. One of the big takeaways was how many… I mean, there are certainly wrong things you can do. I mean, there are definitely—
Margaret Hathaway 11:12
There are lots of right, but also a lot of wrong.
Karl Schatz 11:14
Yeah, there’s a lot… But also, a lot of right ways. Like, there’s no, like, one right way to do things. Like, there’s lots of different ways. And it’s really about finding something that works for you and for your animals. And, you know, of course, every piece of property is different. So, that’s going to dictate infrastructure, and pasture, and, you know, and access to browse, and stuff like that. And that’s’s all going to influence what, you know, the size of your herd, or the kind of goats you might have, or—
Margaret Hathaway 11:19
What predators you have to worry about, or—
Karl Schatz 11:19
—you know, whether you’re going to do dairy, or other things. So, obviously, you know, there are a lot of variables that can play into it.
Karl Schatz 11:15
But seeing lots of different ways of doing it was, I think, very encouraging for us. Because, at the same time we were… I mean, we were essentially, at that point homeless, or… I mean, not homeless, but we didn’t have—I mean, we were on the road.
Margaret Hathaway 12:07
Karl Schatz 12:07
So, we were also looking for a place to live. I mean, we were sort of planning, we would do that for a year, and then we were going to start looking for a place, and I was kind of putting feelers out for jobs. And we could have ended up really just about anywhere. And I think it was encouraging, seeing that there were people doing different things with goats in every corner of the country. And, you know, even in some more—maybe not urban urban, but suburban.
Margaret Hathaway 12:35
But suburban. Yeah.
Karl Schatz 12:35
Suburban settings. And, I think it was encouraging to know that, no matter where we ended up at the end of that Year, you know, there was a pretty good possibility that we’d be able to sort of continue with the dream of raising goats.
Margaret Hathaway 12:49
Well, and now it’s been 17 years on our farm in Maine. But it is funny to think back, that we could have ended up, you know—
Karl Schatz 12:57
Margaret Hathaway 12:57
—in Syracuse, or in Southern California. Like, there were—
Karl Schatz 13:00
Margaret Hathaway 13:00
—there were a few places where Karl was looking at—
Karl Schatz 13:03
Margaret Hathaway 13:05
—jobs, and… Yeah, our life could be so different.
Karl Schatz 13:08
Deborah Niemann 13:10
Yeah. And I think that’s one of the good things about the book, is that if somebody is thinking of getting goats, it’s always been one of my books that I’ve recommended to people. Like, if you’re thinking of getting goats, you’re not quite sure what you want to do, it’s a really good overview of all the different things. Like, I can’t think of anything you guys missed. You know, you saw lots of dairy goats, and meat goats, and Angoras, and, you know, the goats in the circus. And I mean, just you covered the gamut, I think. And so, it really gives a great overview of the diversity of goats.
Margaret Hathaway 13:44
Karl Schatz 13:45
Margaret Hathaway 13:46
And thanks for recommending the book to people!
Karl Schatz 13:48
And goats being, you know, used for weed eating, which is, of course, now… Like, goatscaping, it’s, like, a big business now. There are people, I think, in a lot of states that are not just doing it kind of on the side, but, like, have developed, like, little businesses around goatscaping. And that was one of the things that we also looked at, and on a huge scale when—
Margaret Hathaway 14:08
Karl Schatz 14:08
—we visited Lani Malmberg.
Margaret Hathaway 14:10
Yeah. But, it’s interesting. In The Year of the Goat, she gets, like, maybe a couple sentences—this woman, Lani Malmberg—who has this wonderful, incredible operation with renting out goats for weed eating. But just maybe two years ago, she was profiled in the New York Times, and it was so great to see that she is still active and still mentoring people and teaching people. And it’s like connecting with you. It’s wonderful to see people who had such a formative influence on us are continuing to be active in the goat world.
Karl Schatz 14:41
Margaret Hathaway 14:41
It’s really It’s exciting. I know there are some people that we really connected with who have passed over the years, which is also kind of strange. And before the book was reissued, you know, we revisited every thing. We reread it, and it was kind of stunning how many people were older when we visited them, you know, and are no longer with us… Anyway, that’s kind of a downer. But…
Karl Schatz 15:07
But, I think, just the longevity of… You know, I think when we left New York and said, you know, “We’re going to do this, and we’re…” You know, “We want to get goats.” And I think a lot of people thought, “Oh, this is like a phase.” You know, it’s just…
Margaret Hathaway 15:22
Well, and I remember there was someone who came to a reading that I gave, who I met in other circumstances, like, 5 years later, and he was like, “Oh, yeah, I never thought you guys would actually stick with that.” Like, “No. No way.” He was so shocked that we still had goats.
Karl Schatz 15:36
Margaret Hathaway 15:37
Deborah Niemann 15:38
I’ve heard that a lot, too, from people that we knew in the suburbs. You know, they’re like, “I can’t believe you stuck it out.” Like, “We thought for sure you were gonna be headed back to the suburbs in no time.”
Margaret Hathaway 15:48
Karl Schatz 15:49
And I mean, I think it’s not just the goats. I mean, I think just the lifestyle of being here, having a relationship with the land and animals and, you know, being responsible for so much of the food that we eat, and it just feeds your soul in a way that, I just can’t imagine giving that up. You know… Maybe not as many animals. There’s definitely a few animals I think, “Eh, it wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t around.”
Margaret Hathaway 16:19
I think it’s, like, the last three years, we’ve been, like, “Oh, maybe we’ll keep, like, two kids.” And then we end up, you know… Because they look so pretty, or their temperament is so sweet.
Karl Schatz 16:29
Or they came from that line that we love.
Margaret Hathaway 16:31
Yeah, that line that never has girls. And yeah, every goat owner knows that conversation.
Karl Schatz 16:40
But, I think that there is something that, it’s definitely hard to imagine doing anything else now.
Margaret Hathaway 16:47
Deborah Niemann 16:48
Yeah, I definitely understand that. You get used to, like, having so much space and quiet. And, you know, especially during the pandemic, I felt so incredibly blessed. Like, you know, when you heard about people being stuck in, like, little, you know, tiny apartments and stuff, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I can walk outside, and go for a walk, and not see anyone for, you know, miles, really.”
Margaret Hathaway 17:17
Well, and we have three daughters now, and they’re all still at home. Our oldest will be 16 next week, and then we have a 14 year old, and a 10 year old. And during the pandemic, what surprised me the most… I guess I hadn’t thought about how self-sufficient we are? And then, our life really didn’t change that much. You know, I mean—
Karl Schatz 17:39
We were already working at home.
Margaret Hathaway 17:41
Already working at home; we already had plenty of milk and eggs. You know, our kids were already used to, you know, having responsibilities around the house and in the barn. And we worked, you know, sort of as a team, as a family. But talking to friends who really didn’t have that, I think the contrast in our lifestyles kind of was in sharp relief.
Deborah Niemann 18:03
Deborah Niemann 18:04
So, what is one of the stories from the book that still just jumps out at you? For whatever reason, you know, as being kind of extraordinary?
Margaret Hathaway 18:17
Karl Schatz 18:18
Well, I mean, in some ways, the whole trip was. You know, everything we did felt extraordinary, because it was all so new to us. I mean, we just hadn’t really… We just didn’t know that much about goats. It was really sort of a whim in a lot of ways. Or, it was a whim, but then this was how we were educating ourselves. So, it felt like every place we visited felt extraordinary.
Margaret Hathaway 18:41
Well, and I think, I mean—
Karl Schatz 18:42
In some way.
Margaret Hathaway 18:43
And in an overarching way, like, people’s generosity to us with their time, and their knowledge, and their animals, and sometimes with their guest rooms.
Karl Schatz 18:52
Margaret Hathaway 18:52
Like, I can’t remember—I think we stayed with you. I think you are one of the guest rooms.
Karl Schatz 18:57
Yeah, one of the guest rooms we stayed in. Yeah, right.
Margaret Hathaway 18:59
Yeah. That, throughout the whole year, we were overwhelmed by that. Just the way people helped us figure out who we wanted to be in the world was just incredible to us. And, if there’s anything extraordinary, I think it’s that just, like, how kind and generous people are—and people everywhere. You know, any prejudice I might have harbored about parts of the country, or just people that when I initially met them, just totally subverted. Like, everyone was kind to us, and that was stunning.
Margaret Hathaway 19:36
I mean, I think every chapter or two there’s, like, something interesting—like Carmen. Spending time with you and Carmen the goat kid. That…
Karl Schatz 19:45
Margaret Hathaway 19:46
We had never known people who had goats in their house. Now it’s in every spring for us. You know, we’re used to it.
Karl Schatz 19:53
Yeah, goats always come in.
Margaret Hathaway 19:54
But, there were, like, little moments like that. Or, at Quillisascut Farm in Rice, Washington. Just seeing the abundance that they were able to produce and harvest and forage from, to me, what looked like sort of the wilderness; they were able to bring back a basket of incredible food. Like, little moments like that stick with me.
Karl Schatz 20:16
And then there were, of course, like, the sort of, like, madcap, like, adventure sort of things that were really unexpected. Like, you know, goat chariot races in Millington, and, like, things that you’re like, you know, “This is just kind of crazy.” And going goat-packing, which was, like, a totally unexpected thing. I don’t think… When we left on the trip, it wasn’t something that was on our radar that we knew about. At some point over the course of the year, someone said, “Oh, you should really look at, you know, goat-packing. And of course, as soon as we did, we’re like, “Wait, what? Camping with goats, and they carry all your camping equipment, and you just go out in the woods?” And we’re like, “Yeah, we want to do that.” And so we did. And it was amazing.
Margaret Hathaway 20:56
Well, and that’s shaped, like, the business that we’ve ended up growing.
Karl Schatz 20:59
Right. Yeah, yeah. So now, like, really, the main attraction of our agritourism businesses is goat hiking, now, that we do with—
Margaret Hathaway 21:05
Karl Schatz 21:07
Margaret Hathaway 21:07
It’s not quite as—
Karl Schatz 21:08
It’s a smaller scale—
Margaret Hathaway 21:09
Karl Schatz 21:09
—but it is the same sort of feeling of just getting out into the wilderness with some animals. Having that sort of experience in the outdoors, and reconnecting with the heritage that humans evolved alongside goats with—you know, sort of the herding, you know, lifestyle of, you know, many places in the world today. Walking with goats is just a normal activity. It’s like, you get up in the morning; you take your herd of goats and sheep somewhere; they graze; you walk them back at the end of the day; and that’s just daily life. And here in the United States, we’ve become so disconnected from that, and from those roots, that it’s nice to be able to provide people with the ability to make that connection, even if it’s for just a couple of hours in an afternoon.
Margaret Hathaway 21:58
Karl Schatz 21:59
Deborah Niemann 22:02
What else do you think that people should know about the book?
Margaret Hathaway 22:06
Well, I think with this new 15th anniversary edition, we were able to put in a new introduction that kind of catches people up on what we’ve been doing. You know, I’m perpetually, like, working on a sequel to this in my head, but not actually writing it. So, maybe this will spur me on. But this is, like, a 10-page, you know, sort of “what we’ve been doing now,” what we’ve left off the page. You know, it contextualizes a little bit more how we did the the travels—which was mostly eating ramen and sleeping in our car. But, we didn’t really talk much about that, because that was kind of not what people wanted to hear in a story at the time. I think people are interested in the author off the page a little bit more now, maybe?
Margaret Hathaway 22:50
There’s also, in the new book, Karl’s photos. We have 32 pages of photos that didn’t make it into the first edition, which is pretty exciting to share.
Karl Schatz 23:00
Yeah. I think most of the photos are things that are in the book. And then there were, unfortunately, I think, some visits that just, you know, got edited out for space or for, sort of narrative.
Margaret Hathaway 23:13
Yeah. Well, I think if we put everything that we put on the blog into the book, it would have been, like, 1,500… It would have been like War and Peace. Like, a doorstopper. So.
Karl Schatz 23:23
Yeah. But I think there are some… Maybe, there might be a few photos in the photo section that aren’t written about in the book.
Margaret Hathaway 23:29
Yeah, that’s true.
Karl Schatz 23:30
Just to kind of show some of the other—and we also got the map in. So, we have a map that shows, like, all the routes and all the stops. And so, you can see all the different places we went, even if not everyone is is written about in the book.
Karl Schatz 23:30
Yeah. And we changed the subtitle.
Karl Schatz 23:33
Yes, we did. We changed the subtitle. The new subtitle is “40,000 Miles in Pursuit of Peace, Pastures, and the Perfect Cheese.”
Deborah Niemann 23:55
Oh, I like that!
Karl Schatz 23:56
A little alliteration.
Margaret Hathaway 23:58
Karl Schatz 23:59
Well, some extra alliteration.
Margaret Hathaway 24:00
Yeah. We do love alliteration.
Deborah Niemann 24:03
Because, wasn’t the first one “In Pursuit of the Perfect Cheese”?
Margaret Hathaway 24:06
Yeah. It was “The Quest for the Perfect Cheese.” And it never felt exactly accurate.
Karl Schatz 24:12
Margaret Hathaway 24:13
It felt like what we were looking for really was what we found, which was a sense of peace and a sense of grounding.
Karl Schatz 24:21
Yeah. For us, the “perfect cheese” was… It was more of a sort of…
Margaret Hathaway 24:25
The cheese in your heart?
Karl Schatz 24:26
Yeah, it was like a theoretical cheese. It was like, you know, just, you know, the perfect way of living life. It was sort of meant in a more representative way than a literal way, and we didn’t want people to feel misled that they were gonna open the book and discover what the perfect—
Margaret Hathaway 24:43
At the end, like “Aha!”
Karl Schatz 24:44
“This is the perfect cheese!” Yeah. So.
Deborah Niemann 24:46
You know what? This makes perfect sense to me, though, because when that book was first published, to me, it was still all about the cheese. My goat journey was all about cheese. Like, I frequently start my personal goats story by saying, “It was love at first bite when I had my first goat cheese in college. It was expensive. I couldn’t afford it. And so, when we moved to the country, I was like, ‘I gotta have a couple goats so I can have goat cheese.'” And that was really it. And so, that’s where I started; I started with the perfect cheese, just like you guys did.
Karl Schatz 25:19
Deborah Niemann 25:20
But you found so much more.
Margaret Hathaway 25:23
Yeah, yeah. And I think anyone who sticks with goats, that’s exactly the journey. Is, you start out looking for one very specific thing—whether it’s a relationship with your animal, or cheese, or filling a market niche, or something. But then, if you really connect with the animals, you end up with so much more. It’s like such a deeper, sort of settled, sense of self.
Deborah Niemann 25:50
Yeah. I know, I was very surprised by how much I fell in love with goats as a species. Like, I just really wasn’t expecting that when I got them. But they’re so personable. And they’re all individuals, you know; they’re just like dogs and cats in terms of, like, having their own individual personality and everything. And so, you know, people ask, “Do they all have names?” And the answer is kind of, to me, like, “Duh.” Like, they’re all such individuals, and you know, you can you talk about them like you would talk about a pet dog or a pet cat. I just kind of feel like they’re the ultimate pet with benefits.
Margaret Hathaway 26:29
Yeah. Well, and they’re… There’s something so lovely about starting your day and ending your day with goats. I mean, when we’re milking—because we we milk twice a day, and we hand-milk still. We’re milking five goats now, but we do it all by hand. And there’s just something so, like… I sound like I found “the cheese in my heart,” but it’s just so meditative and quiet and connected to be out in the barn with them.
Karl Schatz 26:55
Well, and we spend… I mean, a big part of our agritourism business is teaching other people how to milk goats, whether they’re, you know, coming here for that experience, or they’re staying—we have a guesthouse that we rent on Airbnb. And so, people come and stay in the guest house. And we offer everyone a goat milking lesson. So, just this morning, our guests were up here, and we were milking goats with them. And it’s so fun to see, like, what a mind-blowing experience it is for other people to, like, milk a goat for the first time ever. I mean, to milk any animal, and kind of see, like, make that connection for themselves of like, “Oh, this is where milk comes from.” There’s, like, this physical process with an animal, this relationship, that you have to sort of go through to get this food product that we love to drink, or make into cheese, or do whatever. And it’s—for some people—it’s really mind-blowing. And it’s really fun for us to be part of that, and to be the kind of catalyst for people making that connection for the first time. And some of those people go on—
Margaret Hathaway 27:59
I know, there’s nothing more gratifying than, like, when people who you have helped to start with goats go on to have businesses. I can think of a couple—
Karl Schatz 28:07
Yeah, there’s at least three people in the area now who have gone on to have goat-related businesses, who, I mean, didn’t entirely get their start with us, but…
Margaret Hathaway 28:18
But we claim them. Just as you can claim us!
Deborah Niemann 28:25
I know, I feel like, back when I first met you guys, I was so clueless. Like, I still just think of, like, how little I knew back then and everything. But I felt like I totally knew what I was doing. You know? We all did.
Karl Schatz 28:41
Well, you seemed to know what you were doing from our standpoint. So.
Margaret Hathaway 28:44
I mean, I think, like with everything. With parenting, with farming, with writing, I always feel like every day I get a little better and a little worse at it. And you know, it’s always a journey, right?
Deborah Niemann 28:57
That is a perfect summary of, yeah. Of life with goats, and of your book, and just life in general. So, I think that sounds like a really great place to end today’s episode. Is there anything else you want to add?
Margaret Hathaway 29:11
Oh, just thank you for being part of our goat journey and our goat story. We’re so grateful to have met you. You’re wonderful person. Thank you.
Deborah Niemann 29:20
Oh, I love you guys! I love what you’ve done with Ten Apple Farm. It’s so great.
Margaret Hathaway 29:24
Karl Schatz 29:25
Thanks. Yeah, and if anyone’s ever in Maine, come visit. Come for a goat hike.
Margaret Hathaway 29:30
Send your grandkid.
Deborah Niemann 29:32
I’ll bring my grandson out. I know. And I know what you mean. I do kind of feel like, you know, I got you started. So, I had a little something to do with you guys.
Karl Schatz 29:42
Absolutely. A big something.
Margaret Hathaway 29:43
A big something. Yeah.
Deborah Niemann 29:46
All right. Thanks so much for joining us today!
Karl Schatz 29:48
Oh, thanks for having us! It was great to reconnect.
Deborah Niemann 29:52
And that’s it for today’s show. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to hit the “subscribe” button so that you don’t miss any episodes. To see show notes, you can always visit ForTheLoveOfGoats.com, and you can follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoveGoatsPodcast. See you again next time. Bye for now!