The new trend in urban farming: goats

Brendan Francis Newnam Jan 17, 2011

The new trend in urban farming: goats

Brendan Francis Newnam Jan 17, 2011


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: For urban farmers these days, goats are all the rage. With home-grown parsley and backyard chicken coops so last year, many green-thumbed city slickers are turning to goats.

But as Brendan Francis Newnam found out, when he visited writer Novella Carpenter at her urban farm in Oakland, California, raising goats isn’t for rookies.

NOVELLA CARPENTER: Goats are definitely advanced topics and I would not recommend it as a first thing that you get unless you’ve researched the heck out of it. It ends up — you know — you spend a lot of money, and if you do a cost analysis like if I looked at it like, “How much would a quart of milk cost,” I mean it would be like $10 or something.

BRENDAN FRANCIS NEWNAM: Are they even legal have?

CARPENTER: Yeah actually it is legal to have goats in Oakland. You can’t have male goats, because male goats smell really bad. As I found out when we had Mr. Lincoln come visit the farm for a couple of days for stud service.

NEWNAM: Wait — Mr. Lincoln is the stud goat?

CARPENTER: Yeah Mr. Lincoln. He has a long righteous beard. So he like kind of moved in with the girls and at first they were playing it cool they didn’t even look at him or pay attention and then they started to smell that odor that he has.

NEWNAM: Oh Mr. Lincoln.

CARPENTER: Oh it’s so alluring. And you know what that is? It’s actually they pee on themselves.

NEWNAM: Well can we meet the goats?

CARPENTER: Yeah let’s go meet Bebe and Ginger.

NEWNAM: Are they going to attack me.

CARPENTER: No! They’re sweet. Look at them — they’re little angels. That’s Ginger. And then that’s Bebe. These guys are both pregnant. You can’t — I mean maybe you can tell. The untrained eye might not be able to catch it.

NEWNAM: Yeah I can’t tell but I did notice she wasn’t drinking.

CARPENTER: Yeah. Well she’s not smoking either it’s amazing what she’s given up for these babies.

NEWNAM: Alright well the reason you have the goats isn’t because they’re cute right?

CARPENTER: Well they’re what I call pets with benefits. They’re milk is so good and then it makes really really creamy yummy cheese too.

NEWNAM: So how often do they have to be milked?

CARPENTER: A lot of people who have goats milk them twice a day, but I want to have a social life, so I milk them only once a day.

NEWNAM: What is their life expectancy?

CARPENTER: An old goat — 12 years maybe. But after they are done giving birth, you can just send them off to some petting zoo.

NEWNAM: How is she going to feel? You’re not there for her golden years?

CARPENTER: You know — it’s not like that. We’re not best friends. We don’t have like deep conversations over coffee.

Writer Novella Carpenter, speaking with Brendan Francis Newnam of our sister show “The Dinner Party Download.” That’s available through our website,

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