Tess Cooper feeds some of the dozen goats on her Greenbank farm. The 4H Club Four Seasons Farm is holding its first Goat University Saturday at Whidbey Island Fairgrounds. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Tess Cooper feeds some of the dozen goats on her Greenbank farm. The 4H Club Four Seasons Farm is holding its first Goat University Saturday at Whidbey Island Fairgrounds. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Goat University not kidding around

Covering goats from head to tail

Got a goat?

Got a goat with a college degree?

Naaayyyyyy, you say?

Then Goat University might be for you.

The Saturday workshop at Whidbey Island Fairgrounds will teach all things goat-related: grooming, milking, breeding, soap making, hiking with goats, making soft cheeses and more.

It’s a first-time undertaking for the small 4-H Club Four Seasons Farm on South Whidbey with support from Washington State University Extension of Island County.

“We’ve seen other organizations do it,” organizer Tess Cooper said of the idea. “Owning goats is so popular now and everybody is just wanting more information.”

More than 70 people are registered for Goat U, driving in from all over the state.

“We’re thrilled,” Cooper said. “We were worried we wouldn’t get enough people.”

The one-day event is a fundraiser for the South Whidbey 4-H club. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for ages 6 to 17.

Goat University students are asked not to bring their goats as that would be well, udderly chaotic. Instead, local goats will be on hand and hoof.

“We will have over 25 goats at Goat University,” said Molly Jacobson, also an organizer. “Students will have a hands-on opportunity to trim hooves, give injections, castrate and learn to milk a goat.

“These skills will be taught by 4-H members, leaders, invited guests and local veterinarians.”

Both adults and kids — the human kind — will lead sessions. Kids —the goat kind — will probably be the main attraction, Cooper predicted.

“We bred our goats early to have babies for Goat University and mamas in milk,” Jacobson said. “We have nine baby goats to share. Our youngest 4-H members will be in charge of the baby pen and bottle feeding.”

There are many mother-daughter teams teaching, such as Cooper and her daughter, Aja, and Jacobson and her three daughters, Maggie, Celia and Clara.

“Aja is teaching a class about hiking with pack goats, and Maggie is teaching about breeding to kidding,” Cooper said.

At last count, there were a dozen goats on Cooper’s farm in Greenbank where ducks and chickens wander about and a chorus of pigs serenade visitors.

“We have goats for multiple purposes here, dairy goats, meat goats, utility goats for hiking and hunting and weed-eating goats,” she said, preparing one for milking. “Half of them are rented out right now eating other people’s weeds.

“We originally got them for weed control and as pack goats,” she said. “Then we thought we might as well do dairy.”

Goat milk is popular with people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk because it’s lower in lactose. It’s also easily made into soft cheeses.

Jacobson said when she first bred goats on Whidbey in 2001, they were a tough sell. Now, she has a waiting list.

“I think people have discovered that goats make great companions,” she said. “They bond with you, offer milk and can clear your brush for you.”

Goat yoga will be the last class of the day at Goat University.

Now, if you haven’t herd about that trend, ewe are waaaaaaay behind.

• Goat University, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. March 17 at Whidbey Island Fairgrounds presented by 4-H Club Four Seasons Farm. Tickets and registration at: www.goatuniversity.brownpapertickets.com. Lunch is available to purchase.

Tess Cooper milks one of the dairy goats on the family farm.

Tess Cooper milks one of the dairy goats on the family farm.

Some of the goats on Tess Cooper’s farm are used as pack animals for hiking trips, such as this rambunctious one. Others are rented out to chew up undesired landscaping, such as weeds and blackberry bushes.

Some of the goats on Tess Cooper’s farm are used as pack animals for hiking trips, such as this rambunctious one. Others are rented out to chew up undesired landscaping, such as weeds and blackberry bushes.

This baby goat will be one of many kids at Goat University Saturday.
                                Photo provided

This baby goat will be one of many kids at Goat University Saturday. Photo provided

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