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Living the goat life: On the urban farm with the founder of the Goat Justice League — and her kids



Photo: Joshua Huston

 

What do you get when you combine two adults, one child, two goats, a dog, five egg-laying hens, and two newborn kids — baby goats, that is? You get a world-renowned urban Seattle goat farm, complete with goat-milk pancakes and delicious ice cream. Jennie Grant, her husband, Don Kneass, and their son, Spencer, live in a 2,000-square-foot home in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle, where they house and care for all of the above.

Their tiny herd of goats, consisting of does Snowflake and Eloise, inspired Jennie to form the Goat Justice League in 2007. She successfully pushed for legislation legalizing dairy goats as small, domestic animals within the Seattle city limits. Since then, Jennie has written a book, entitled City Goats: The Goat Justice League’s Guide to Backyard Goat Keeping, which details urban life with goats and acts as a guide to small-scale goat keeping. It is the number-one-selling book about raising goats in an urban environment. “It’s full of anecdotes and even has a very moving goat love story at the end,” says Jennie.

Photo: Joshua Huston

Life on this urban farm is no small feat; milking, breeding, feeding, playing and a whole host of big farm responsibilities. Spencer, 15, gets into the fray by helping with the farm work. “In terms of helping on the farm, Spencer used to help catch and round up chickens when necessary. Once, he found a whole nest of eggs the chickens had hidden under the goat shed. He still enjoys the milk with his breakfast and goat-milk waffles,” says Jennie. “He much prefers our pug dog Eddie to the goats. He won’t admit it, but I think he also enjoys giving the young kids their morning bottle.”

Photo: Joshua Huston

“When he was little, I would bring a goat to the schoolyard to demonstrate milking, or I’d bring the baby goats into the classroom for them to hold. Kids are always very interested and happy to see the goats,” Jennie says. Speaking of kids, Eloise is due any day now, and the farm will be alive with the tiny hooves of those fluffy babies. The arrival of kids and watching their mothers taking care of the babies is Jennie’s favorite part of life on their tiny goat farm. There’s also the advantage of fresh cheese, yogurt, smoothies and soufflés.

Photo: Joshua Huston

Asked about the messy bits of farm life, Jennie makes it clear that the goats are not allowed in the house: “They have their own state-of-the-art goat shed that is in the backyard. They are also excellent escape artists, so you’ll need a good fence!”

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