True, the care of these animals needs to be careful, clean and courteously done. We cannot have them smelling because of their poop, or left unattended by their owners, nor existing as loud or offensive to neighbors. Urban goats can provide a gentle reminder of the natural world that is cut off by city environments, especially for children. One child in our neighborhood blurted out when seeing our animals, 'They look so peaceful'. Another neighbor stated that if goats could live on the West Side his family could live in peace here.
At GlennArt Farm we keep them as a service to the city. Our focus is to glorify God, restore community and provide healthful food to our neighbors. We have found that goats have a niche to play in the development of sustainable urban agriculture. They produce milk for an alternative food source, their manure gives an immediate use for fertilizer, the goats love to eat down overgrown lots and they are gentle when interacting with people.
A herd in the city may consist of a minimum of two animals. We manage five does (or female goats). We breed our goats with breeders to maintain a small herd without the complication of keeping adult males. Our herd consists of five nannies and their kids (babies). Every year we have about 8 to 10 babies which are sold at the end of the year.
With help from Frontera Farmer Foundations, GlennArt created a mini dairy in the city of Chicago. The State of Illinois created regulations to allow the sale of raw unpasteurized milk from farm homesteads. After two years of work, we met the regulations standards and obtained the permit. Our production is tiny compared to large farms; however we have found a niche market of buyers that benefit from our product.
Manure is always a complication for keeping animals; however the soil amendments of goat manure allows it to be applied immediately and safely in gardens. Community gardens have amend their soil systems from our service to haul bags of manure to their sites. Urban agriculture and floral companies have reaped the benefits of our soil amendments in their products of fruits, vegetables and cut flowers.
Interacting with goats proves to be fascinating to the public. Providentially, we discovered ecotourism activities like goat yoga and what we call goat 'chill.' People like goats. These animals are pleasant, smart and funny and have no upper teeth. They are gentle with children and do not bite. In order to provide the experience to our neighbors, we offer 'open pasture' moments to feed and 'rub' their fur.
We take our precautions to keep them healthy to be munching, provide manure, milk and memories. It is our hope for Chicago to understand not only the benefits of goats in the city, but also the mental and physical health it gives to this city's inhabitants. For us it is worth the effort to show a beauty in this created world.