Hiking, New England

Hiking with Goats in Gray, Maine

In October, a friend and I booked an AirBnB experience called “Hiking with Goats” in Grey, Maine. We had booked an AirBnB in Freeport and planned to spend most of the weekend in Portland, but we were so intrigued by reading the words “hike” and “goat” in the same sentence. The experience came highly rated on AirBnB and we were sold once we read how many times the word goat was used in the description (9 times!). And that it was signed by the whole family, including “Phillip the Sheep.” The farm is run by Karl and Margaret, a couple who said goodbye to their lives in New York City in 2003 to embark on a journey around the country to learn all about dairy goats before starting their own dairy goat farm in Maine.

This was truly one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in New England!

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The adult goats on the farm are French Alpine Dairy Goats. Unlike goats we’re used to seeing on farms, they still have their horns! Karl told us they keep the horns on their goats for three main reasons: 1) Their horns have blood vessels inside which helps to regulate a goat’s body temperature 2) When it gets to be too hot outside, farmers can wrap cold, wet towels around a goat’s horns to keep them cool (Maine isn’t known for its hot and humid summers like other parts of New England, but Karl said this summer was the hottest one they’d had on record), and 3) a goat’s horns can act as protection! (But the goats at Ten Apple Farm sleep inside the barn so they’re safe at night from predators.)

The next two photos are of a goat named Lafayette. And for all you Hamilton lovers out there, yes, he was named after Monsieur Lafayette. :)

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Horns from a different angle

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While the adult goats are Alpines, the three babies on the farm are a mix of Alpine and Lamancha goats. (Or Al-Mancha goats) We met three baby goats:

The two doelings are Nutmeg (the youngest) and Cardamom Ellen, nicknamed “Cardie E.”

I think Cardie E lives up to her namesake because look at how FIERCE she is standing proudly on this rock!

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And the one and only baby boy is named Curry. He got his name because he was originally going to be goat meat, but as you can see from this picture of him nuzzling Karl’s hand, he was too sweet to butcher and they decided to keep him!

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They have 11 goats on the farm right now, but there is one more character who hangs out with them…

Phillip the sheep! And yes, he’s named after Phillip from Hamilton. His parents were Eliza and Alexander Ramilton.  (They are very punny on TenApple Farm. And anyone who is a fan of Hamilton and makes puns is a friend of mine.)

Phillip thinks he’s a sheep but the goats often remind him that he is not. He’s not allowed to go on the goat hikes because the others would run into him with their horns. Poor Phillip!

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The hike was only a little over a mile long. Goats have a  mentality so if we stopped moving they would stop too and start to “browse.” Unlike cows and sheep who are grazers, goats are “browsers.” Meaning they will eat literally anything they find on the ground! pack

I had a lot of fun hiking, running, and walking with the goats through the woods. The three babies were especially full of energy and would start running any time I would. And I definitely got pushed out of the way a few times by some of the adult goats’ horns!

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The trail looped back in a different direction, so we got to meet some other friends along the way back to the farm.

This is Lady Katherine, a friendly and sweet pig one of the daughters raised.

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If hiking with goats wasn’t already surprising, check out these guys! (Or girls? I don’t know. I was too flabbergasted by their very existence to retain their names.)

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Except I did write down that they part Wooly Pig and part Wild Boar! When they breathed it sounded like Chirhiro’s parents when they start eating all the food and turned into pigs in the movie Spirited Away.

I loved this experience and now I have a newfound appreciation for goats and farming. When I went to farm camp when I was 5 or 6 I hated it and wanted nothing to do with the pigs and had trouble churning butter. Now I milked a goat and even drank it warm and fresh from the teet!

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Curry FURIOUSLY drank his entire bottle of milk in under 10 seconds. I now have all of  the respect for every goat mama out there who has to go through with this!MVIMG_20191013_172434

We finished off the experience with a warm glass of fresh goat milk (it was actually delicious and the taste was very subtle and sweet!) and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Yum!

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When I asked how Ten Apple Farms got its name, Karl said it was because when they bought the place it had 10 apple trees. And then his eldest daughter said, with the slightest hint of sarcasm,  “yeah, but now there’s 12.”

Every human and animal I met on Ten Apple Farm was awesome. I highly recommend the trip to Grey, Maine for this experience–whether you’re a hiker, animal lover, or both, I’m sure you’ll have fun and learn something new!

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