John Hall is the resident farmer at Beekman 1802 and is responsible for first introducing the goat herd to the farm. Though he’s busy with breeding season right now, we managed to get him to take a break to answer a few questions for all of you who have been asking.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up right here in Sharon Springs. My family moved here in 1966 when I was two.
Did you grow up with animals?
My family always had farm animals. My parents were dairy farmers for many years, but with cows.
What made you decide to get your first goat and when was that?
One of the places I moved to had a small barn. Their daughter had previously raised so it was all set up and I decided that I would try them too. So in the late spring of 2000 I got my first goats.
What was the name of your first goat?
Blacky and Sandy were the first. I still have Blacky. Betty and Mable joined a month later and then Tilly, I still have Tilly too.
How many goats are on the farm now?
Currently there are 78 goats in residence. 45 milking age does, 28 yearling does and 5 breeding bucks.
What breeds are the goats?
The breeds of the goats are Alpine, Saanen, Sable and Nubian.
How long does it take you to milk them?
When I was milking all of them it would take about 2 and a half hours in the morning and the same every evening.
How much milk does each goat produce?
The girls average just about a gallon a day. A few of the mature does give almost 2 gallons.
Approximately how many baby goats are born on the farm each year?
Most of the goats will have twins and triplets. Single birth are uncommon. I have had quadruplets and one year Sandy had quintuplets. In 2009 there were 83 kids born.
Having worked with goats for so many years, what is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen a goat do?
I think the craziest thing they do is climb on the round bales as if they are playing King of the Mountain.
Do they really eat ANYTHING or is that just a myth?
Goats like to take a taste of almost anything. They love to nibble on hats, gloves, clothes, fingers and camera wires. This is how they investigate things. Actually goats are pretty finicky eaters. They will browse around the pasture looking for the choicest morsels. When it comes to the grain they are pretty fussy too. Sometimes it seems like they are telling me “okay we had this all last week you don’t have anything different”?
What do you think about the fact that after appearing with Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray and in various magazines that the goats at the Beekman Farm are probably the most famous goats in the world?
Well I don’t allow them to watch TV so it hasn’t gone to their heads yet. We’ll see if fame brings fortune or not.
Do you think they like all the attention they get when people come to visit the farm?
Goats are a very social animal. I bottle feed almost all of them so they are used to human attention; I think the more they get the more they like.
What do you think of Beekman 1802 Blaak, the first artisanal cheese made using the milk of the goats?
I had it first before it had reached its ripeness and liked it. Once it had aged it got its bite and then I really liked it. It’s a good thing I can’t get at it all the time.