Just Kidding: 95 Baby Goats and Counting

Just Kidding: 95 Baby Goats and Counting

Two farmers in Mercersburg bring a little good nature to Westover

Kate Hemphill and Abbey Konzen collaborate on the task of … well … kidding. Kate helps the “does” kid, and Abbey milks the goats, pasteurizes the milk, and prepares their bottles. So far this kidding season, 95 baby goats or kids have been born. Thirteen more mother goats, or “does,” are due to deliver. 

“It works,” says Hemphill. “I like the birthing but Abbey finds it less fun; she likes the milking job.” 

Hemphill had warned customers that cheese would be in short supply during the two weeks when birthing is at its height. Several customers came by to check on the progress of the mother goats, to give hugs, and to get the weekly “behavior” report Hemphill puts on the table. In just a few years, the Faerie Springs goat cheese table has become an Arlington tradition, and people are grateful for the 1 hour and 40 minute drive the farmers take to get to Arlington every week. Checking up on the goats is a way to stay in touch with the rhythms of a farm and its animals. 

Why feed baby goats bottles when their mothers are right there to suckle from? Hemphill explains, first of all, when you let nature take its course, the runts often don’t do well. They get squeezed out and unhealthy. It’s rare that a baby goat who is too thin and scrawny is okay. They just get shoved out by the crowd. Sometimes, you get twins and triplets and sometimes a quad of kids - four at a time - and the mother goat simply can’t feed that many at a time. If it weren’t for their bottle feeding, many kids might not do well. As a result of this TLC, almost all the goats survive and thrive. And then, Hemphill says with a smile, there is the fact that baby goats who are bottle fed are just sweeter. One of these, “Siri,” was a very scrawny kid and is now growing up very well, and very sweet. 

The two farmers work the Faerie Springs Farm in Mercersburg, Penna., and drive down on Sundays to the Westover Farmers Market to sell goat cheese and goat fudge. They make excellent feta cheese, fresh chevre, and other cheeses. 

They raise Nubian, Saanen, Alpine and Lamancha goats, and milk 90 goats twice a day. They will do the Lubber Run market when it opens, and the Shirlington market later in the season. Right now, though, they are busy just kidding around. 

For more, see www.fairiespringsfarm.com