Goat Co-op Eco Wkd

It’s all about the Goats: A Dancing Rabbit How-To

I don’t know about you, but I love goats. Their cute faces while they goat-goat around, which typically includes silly jumping and running about, just brightens my day. Carolyn here, from the Dancing Rabbit Communications Team to share the magic of goats in community. One thing I find particularly special is that here at Dancing Rabbit, you can love and enjoy goats while not having to be their sole owner or provider.

Visitors getting to play with the baby and mama goats after the fantastic goat parade!
Visitors getting to play with the baby and mama goats after the fantastic goat parade!

How is that you ask? Well it’s simple. Join the goat co-op… goat co-op?? Yep, you heard right. You can join in the benefits of owning and enjoying goats with fellow village members, while reducing your time input and limitations. Here in the village, people tend to seek a sustainable living lifestyle by starting co-ops to share the burdens and ultimately the pleasures of life. For the goat co-op, you put in more or less an even amount of money and time so it is an egalitarian approach to animal care.  

The time investment is spent doing tasks that include moving fences, providing water, milking, pasture improvement projects, getting winter food, helping build infrastructure like the new timber framed goat barn, cheese making, socializing baby goats, and even goat parades! Oh yes, there are daily goat parades to a from pastures or spots needing mowing like the ultimate field. Our recent visitor program attendees really enjoyed experiencing the fun goat parades. These tasks are divided based on experience, desire and scheduling.

To better understand the ins and outs of the goat co-op I recently did interviews with some of the members to see what were some of the benefits, drawbacks and things in between. The positive points of joining included:

  • Allowing for more agriculture that aligns with ecological values of the members. This is  due to the personal scale of hands-on work without regularly using tractors or other large implements.
  • Work that is done together helps build connection.
  • Members can travel or skip days if something happens because there are others to help pick up the slack.
  • The ability to do management intensive grazing on a small scale using a real budget is possible when sharing the work burden.
  • Improving soil fertility.
  • Amazing goat cheese!

Struggles of running a co-op like this:

  • Labor doesn’t always come out even due to traveling or how close people live to the goats.
  • Deciding the accurate scale to work at, whether certifying as a dairy or not, to provide to a wider audience than just those living in the tri-communities (raw milk can be sold from the farm to neighbors legally, but to be taken to market other certifications are needed)
  • Fluctuating membership numbers at Dancing Rabbit leads to more or less demand for the cheese products which leads to continual reevaluation of how much they have to offer with what will actually sell.

In the end, all of the co-op members believe that cooperative labor is the way to go. This co-op has allowed Dancing Rabbit members to have goats and do things like cheese making without the sole burden of work. Even on the small scale the daily chores can seem like a breathtaking amount of things to do and when consistency is vital, it can seem like too much work for one person. With the backup and support of the co-op, common goals get accomplished with relative ease. Also a key feature that members spoke about is not having to be tied to a particular job, which allows for flexibility and interest based activities. It’s not like a job you have to do every day; things can change if wanted or necessary. The members believe this is a great way to have animals without 100% of the responsibility.

If you are curious about learning more about co-ops and how you can apply that concept to your life, come check out our Ecovillage Experience Weekend that’s coming up in just a few short weeks. With only 4 spots left, sign up to secure yours today so you can come learn about car co-ops, food co-ops, goat co-ops and more!

Interested in seeing the video recordings of those goat co-op interviews? Check out our Patreon account where you can get a behind-the-scenes look into life at Dancing Rabbit. We post videos, pictures, and even do live Q&A’s to help spread the word of sustainability.

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