photo by Lori Eanes
The Original Goat Justice League came into being in 2007 when, in order to keep my two dairy goats, I worked with Seattle City Councilman, Richard Conlin, to change Seattle’s city code to allow the keeping of dairy goats within city limits. My job was to show citizen support for goat legalization, and Richard Conlin and and his legislative aide, Phyllis Schulman, took care of all the rest. So, I didn’t really fight city hall, like a lot of reporters have mistakenly written. I just went to my elected official with a problem and they helped me! The whole process made me so happy to be a citizen of Seattle.
The new Seattle code classifies goats (100 pounds or less) as small animals. Other parts of the code allow for up to 3 small animals. Dogs and cats are small animals too, so this means you can keep 2 goats and a dog or 2 goats and a cat, but not 3 goats and 3 dogs.
Now that people are free to keep goats in Seattle, the Goat Justice League isn’t all that active. As president of the League, I operate this website which has a section that provides advice to others who want to legalize goats in their town. I’ve also written a book — City Goats — which is a must for absolutely everyone and which you should buy as soon as it hits the bookshelves fall, 2012.
The Goat Justice League is not a very organized organization. We don’t even have a tax status or by-laws or anything, but we are a real group of people and sometimes the officers of the League get together and do things like — watch the Beverly Hillbillies, have dinner together, forage for stinging nettles and get stung, and greet one another with the secret goat milker’s hand shake. We all love our goats and do the best we can to make sure they have as happy and exciting a life as can be had by a city goat.
Here’s Snowflake and her first two kids, Joel Salatin/Yoda and Abe. She’s since had her beard shaved and looks much more feminine now.
Born on Sweetbrier Ridge Farm in Monroe, Washington, in April, 2006, Snowflake was bottle raised and was quite social when she arrived at the Goat Justice League Farm. She has had three sets of kids to date including the legendary: Joel Salatin, Richard Conlin the Kid (aka Little Richard), and Eloise. She is a devoted mother to her own kids, behaves nicely with me, but she is not so nice to everyone else. She produces a fabulously rich, creamy, and non-goaty tasting milk AND she maintains order in the goat yard due to her strong leadership skills (bossiness).
Snowflake is perhaps the most photographed goat of our age. She has appeared in the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Seattle Times, Evening Magazine, and USA Today. A news story carried by the UPI, was published in papers as far away as Brisbane, Australia. Despite the media frenzy that has surrounded her, Snowflake has remained humble and focused on her children and cud chewing.
See what I mean about her being glamorous?
Eloise was born in late March of 2011 at the Goat Justice League headquarters. Young, rambunctious and very beautiful, she spends her days hanging out with her mother and hopes to soon meet a handsome stud buck. Her goal is to throw (this is goat farmer lingo for giving birth) some fabulous mini-dairy goat kids by next spring. According to my friend Laura Workman, who has an eye for goat conformation, Eloise is a show stopper.
Eloise, like her mother, is an ideal city goat because she is very quiet and doesn’t make noise even when she’s in heat. She loves her mother and whenever it’s sunny, the two lie together, necks draped over one another, at the top of the goat yard stairway.
I have been accused of bragging too much about my goats, so, to fend off these charges, I’ll admit, a few of Eloise’s faults.
1)She tries to break into the chicken coop to steal food,
2) She tries to butt me me when I bend over to scoop chicken feed, and
3)She tries HARD to to escape into my upper yard and eat my fresh young chard crop EVERY SINGLE time I open the gate.
Other than these faults, she’s perfect!
Eddie-the-Pug came to us from Seattle Pug Rescue. Even though he is a pug, he takes being a regular dog extremely seriously. Here he is on a camping trip. Spencer and his friends got him interested in digging and he dug a very impressive hole.
I make a point of emphasizing my belief that animals shouldn’t be categorized as farm animal or pet. All animals deserve humane treatment and need a purpose. Some smarty-pants friends of mine have said, “Oh yeah, in what way is Eddie not “just” a pet. How is that dog useful.”
These friends simply need to take a broader view of the issue. Eddie is not a working dog in the traditional sense. He doesn’t retrieve game or herd sheep or pull a sled through deep snow in sub-zero temperatures. He doesn’t even fetch the paper. However, he is useful around the farm. First of all, better than any personal trainer ever could, he makes sure that I get out for a jog with him EVERY day. If he discovers that I have not gone running and taken him with me to make sure my pace is what it should be, he barks a lot, eat things he’s not supposed to, and bites my pant leg. This turns out to be a highly effective way of making sure I get plenty of exercise.
And, if that’s not enough, he developed a knee problem that was extremely expensive to repair. So expensive in fact, that it depleted our family vacation fund. In this manner, Eddie has made sure that I stay home and take care of the goats and chickens and not go traipsing off to Washington D.C. or the Yorkshire Dales — two places I’d love to go.
This is Sofia, one of my 40,000 plus honey bees. It is actually pretty hard for me to tell her apart from Antonia and Isabella, but I think this is Sophia. In keeping with my policy of naming all my farm animals, all of my honey bees have names. Baby bees are always hatching out, and I like to give my bees Italian names, so if you have a lot of Italian girl name ideas (fewer boys names needed) I could sure use the help.
I just got my hive this spring and only just put the honey super on. Last year, the woman who had my hive got 10 gallons of honey. I harvested honey at the end of July and got five gallons! Later in September, I got another three and a half gallons.
Bees are an important element of my farm because they make honey and I like ice cream. One day I plan to make an ice cream from ingredients solely from my back yard. If I’ve still got raspberries by late summer, I’ll make raspberry ice cream using eggs, cream, milk, honey, and raspberries.
Spencer, Age 11, is my farm boy. While probably not as helpful around the farm as children of yester-year, he is an excellent chicken wrangler. He is great at catching chickens and moving them to where ever they need to go. He is also very enthusiastic about the farm, which helps keep me going whenever I worry that it may all be too much work.
My poor, long suffering husband, Don Kneass, must not be forgotten. He carries giant bales of hay down to the goat area every few months and gave me a hand retrofitting the chicken coop to keep out rats. This was a major help. Don has mixed feelings about the farming since he loves the food, loves the experience for the farm boy, but he doesn’t think it’s quite fair that I get to mess around with farming much of the day while he has to go to work. This is why it is so important that you BUY MY BOOK! By doing so, you can make him happy and prove him wrong all at the same time.