At first glance, Ada Christian School looks like a normal elementary school. The sound of goats bleating, however, says otherwise. Hidden in the school’s backyard sits a small farm with Nubian goats, chickens, a vegetable farm and self-proclaimed Herd Queen Leah Sienkowski.
In 2016, Sienkowski decided she wanted to share and grow her passion for goats and farming. Using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, Sienkowski was able to raise enough money to start her own farm, Dreamgoats. Now, it is benefitting students, teachers and the community.
Sienkowski’s passion radiated as she gave one of her goats, Joy, a good scratch behind the ear. She laughed as Joy nudged her hand for more attention, “Goats are hard not to like and they each have their own personality.” She currently has five female goats: Franny, Rain Dance, Beau, Belle and, of course, Joy. Most of them are in heat. For Sienkowski, breeding season is her favorite time of the year. She explained, “When I worked on another farm prior to this, I stayed around for kidding season and saw the magic of baby goats.” This led her to want her own herd.
Sienkowski recently joined Ada Christian’s outdoor education program. Part of her job is to make sure each grade completes its weekly farm responsibilities. The third graders feed the chickens, fourth grade tends to the vegetable garden and the fifth graders care for the goats in specific chore teams. This is therapeutic and educational for all the students.
Anna TerBeek, whose daughters went through the Dreamgoats program, fell in love with it. “I saw what a great experience my daughter was having being involved with goat care. She was learning to love and care for the goats and, along with that, she was learning more about farming, sustainability and all things outdoors,” TerBeek explained.
The family eventually decided to get its own goats and adopted Joy’s kids, Willow and Walnut. TerBeek believes the goats have encouraged her kids to be outdoors more often and sees it as a huge health advantage. “As a family, we have spent more time outside since we have had goats,” she said. “They join us on hikes through the woods around our property, play in the snow and go sledding with us in the winter, join us for bonfires, and more.”
Along with getting outside, the goats have given the family a calming presence. “If any of us are having a rough day, it always seems to be a little brighter after spending some time with Willow and Walnut,” TerBeek said.
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to start your own goat farm to enjoy the health benefits of goats. Dreamgoats makes its goats available to the general public with a handful of opportunities. There are many ways you can get involved. Many people have volunteered to be milkmaids, which means they care for, feed, check in on and milk the goats when needed. You and your family also can own your own herdshare. Last year, Dreamgoats provided fresh milk to 20 families.
The most popular way to experience time with the goats is to take part in Sunday Goat Hikes. With the guidance of a goat herder, walk 45 minutes of trails with your friends and the best walking partners in town. The goats love their walks, where they get to stretch their legs, scratch their backs on the trees and enjoy snack time throughout the trails. Imagine taking your dog to the dog park, but with goats instead. It is a dreamy experience.
If one-on-one time with goats isn’t your thing, but you’d still love to support Dreamgoats, look into purchasing all-organic goat milk soaps made right in the barn. The fatty acid and Vitamin C moisturizes while giving you a fresh, deep clean.
Experience farm life firsthand and plan a visit today at dreamgoats.com, at 6206 Ada Drive SE.