One day, you’re hanging out in your house and you hear one of your kids yell, “MOM, THERE’S A LADY WALKING GOATS ON OUR ROAD.”
The inevitable next step, of course, is to meet the lady walking goats on your road, because you have kids and they need to meet the goats and the Goat Lady.
Then, a few months later, you’re managing the Goat Lady’s AirBnB while she travels and taking random strangers, like me, on neighborhood hikes with the goats.
That’s just how life works out sometimes.
At least that’s how it’s worked out for Randi and Josh.
It’s the goat life
The Little Goat House found my Instagram account recently and I, intrigued, clicked through to her account.
I saw “hiking with goats” and thought, “Ooooh.”
We messaged a few times, found out it was a dog-friendly activity and, next thing I knew, Bella and I are hiking with goats.
That’s just how life works out sometimes.
For about $30, you can “rent” John Waters and David Lynch and go on a guided tour with Tanya, if she’s in town, or her neighbors and co-hosts, Randi and Josh.
Tanya is a traveling girl. The Little Goat House’s Instagram account is filled with images of her journey, along with her goats and other moments from her pad in East Central Spokane.
We haven’t met — yet! — but the About page on her website weaves an incredible story.
She, like most of us in an animal-related business, grew up around furry beasts. She mucked stalls at a stable near her childhood home and fell for an old goat named Nelly. A family friend in southeastern New Mexico lived in an Earthship and kept two milking goats.
When she bought her little turn-of-the-century home in East Central Spokane, she wanted goats.
And goats she would have.
So she can travel, she rents her beautifully appointed home (yeah, I peeked inside) on AirBnB with a full hang-with-the-goats experience.
About the goats
John Waters and David Lynch are Nigerian Dwarf wethers (a lovely word goat word for ‘castrated male’), which Tanya raised from the bottle. She fed them warm milk out of a Negro Modelo bottle with a nipple attached, four times a day, for the first two months of their lives.
If you aren’t up for a hike, you can book snuggle time, or invite the goats to a small party (think kid’s birthday?) or local events, such as festivals, farmers markets and school visits. Tanya is also available as a consultant for anyone wanting to set up their own goat oasis.
Naturally, I was up for a hike.
And Bella was welcome.
A morning in East Central Spokane
If you’ve been following along, you know a lot of my writing here is themed around the worldwide pet photographers’ blog circle.
This week’s subject is details
Oh, those toes.
I knew I was hiking with goats this week and I knew I needed a blog post about details.
I thought, “Perfect.”
Goats have cool details, like their cloven hooves and their beards and their wacky eyes (their irises are rectangles!).
This is going to be easy. I’m going to knock this out of the park.
Goats are cool. I’m not going to kid you. (See what I did there? Kid? Goat? LOL me.)
And these goats are trained to walk off-leash, come when called, etc.
But I’m used to dogs. Dogs that will sit politely for a treat (eh, you know most of them do), dogs that will stay, wait and so on.
Goats don’t stay and wait for a treat. They want it. NOW.
There’s little chance to get in position, get focused, hold the treat out and … nope, that treat is theirs. Dammit. NOW.
Bella and the goats
She was so stinkin’ happy.
Bella spent the first six months of her life on a farm in Arlington, Washington. Her breeders, Shado Farms, also raised Icelandic sheep, Kiko goats and Ancona ducks.
The day I met Bella, then “Miss Orange,” she was a filthy little ragamuffin that stood by the side of her sire, Nicco, learning the ropes of guardianship.
She was understandably upset when my then fiance and I tore her from comfort zone and introduced her to ceramic floors, down duvets and ribeye steak.
Six years later, was she absolutely thrilled to be hanging out with goats?
You tell me.
Dogs don’t forget. That’s for sure.
The goats, however, did not share Bella’s enthusiasm.
When the big white dog wanted to play and bounce and sniff and … they took off. They hid behind Randi’s legs, jumped to the top of basalt rock formations and ran.
Dude, goats are fast.
Of course, Bella being Bella, she was bored of them in about 10 minutes and just wanted to hike.
We all settled in.
The hosts with the most
Randi and Josh are super.
They’re sweet and kind, and they’ve taken the time to learn the history of the area so they can share a little about East Central Spokane with their guests, whether they come from as near as Coeur d’Alene or as far away as Manhattan.
Josh grew up in Spokane Valley and never imagined his life as it is today.
“If you told me 10 years ago, I’d be living in East Central Spokane and walking with goats, I’d have laughed at you,” he said.
He and Randi fell in love with their own turn-of-the-century home and have fixed it up to be a place where they’re happily raising their two kids.
Human ones, of course.
They took Bella and I through the wooded area near their neighborhood and up along the Bill Burr Trail, the old rail line of the Spokane and Inland Empire Railroad Company that transported passengers from downtown to Liberty Lake, Hayden and Coeur d’Alene.
We walked along a wooded asphalt trail sparsely populated with runners, dog walkers and cyclists.
They took me up to a ridge with some amazing views of the city to the west and Mt. Spokane to the northeast.
And they taught me how to pick up a goat.
When we made our back to the Little Goat House and got a tired, happy Bella back in the car, we went into the backyard where we could contain the goats.
I got a few details shots, like John’s hooves:
And David’s beard … well, sort of:
And an eye:
All around the circle
Oh no, I still suck at goat photography. Let’s not lie.
But yes, we are back in the circle to tell you Wrangler’s story. If you haven’t read it, please go back. It will break and mend your heart all in one read.
Now I’ll send you off on a tour of dog photography around the world. Start with Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography serving Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
At the end of her post, click the link to the next post and see where we take you.
When you find yourself back here, you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.