Interview with a Goat Girl

Our interview this month is with goat girl extraordinaire, farmer, mom and yogini Kathryn Hainsworth. Don’t these pictures just make you go aaaawwww? In fact, I think I have goat envy. I’m looking forward to taking Morgane to spend some time with the goats this summer, and learn all about how we too can be goat girls (at least on a weekly basis). Kathryn’s daughter Deeanne is a talented young horsewoman who will be assisting at our Cowgirl Yoga retreats this summer, and everyone coming on retreat will find one of Kathryn’s exquisite handmade soaps in her goodie bag.

1. How did you end up in Montana?
With a romantic notion of of the wild west and a strong desire to leave the small town in Florida where I grew up, I moved to Montana the day after I finished my masters in ’93. I landed in Big Sky, where I taught school for 3 years before becoming a mother and realizing that I wanted something different for our lives.

2. Tell us about the zen of goats.
I am a farmer who considers herself a Jill-of-All-Trades, but a master of none. Like farmers of old, I try to never leave all of my eggs in one basket, so on top of my vegetable and herb gardens I have a variety of animals as well. There is Daisy the pig, the sheep, chickens for the dinner table as well as for laying eggs, horses, bees and last but not least the goats. I primarily raise a rare breed called Nigerian Dwarf Goats. They are a miniature dairy goat that is known for their super high butterfat, which is just what you want for soap and cheese making. Though I love all of the animals, it is the goats that I spend the most time with. As dairy animals, they require not only daily deliveries of food and water, but also twice a day milking timed 12 hours apart, 7 days a week, no matter how I feel or what Mother Nature is throwing my way. I love my goats for the discipline they instill in me, the times each day that they require me to sit down and milk – for that is my meditation. As a single mom with a full time job and a farm to run, there are always things calling for my attention. But my goats require that I put everything aside and come to them. For that I am thankful.

3. You are a yogini. How does your practice blend with your farm life? How do the 2 practices influence each other?
I have practiced yoga sporadically for the last 9 years, but since February have experienced a practice that has altered my whole state of being. Blending my practice with farm life is challenging because of the demands on my time (especially in the spring, when the babies are popping out everywhere!), but when I am faithful to myself and my practice EVERYONE benefits – me, my children, my animals, and my gardens. Yoga brings to me a level of serenity and energy that is so obvious that even my 12 year old son will ask, “Mom, should you do yoga today?”

4. What are the biggest challenges to farming in MT?
WEATHER! WEATHER! WEATHER! Montana is a land of extremes. Hail, extreme winds, late spring or early frosts (it’s even frosted in July!), sudden temperature fluctuations or lack of moisture – it makes you strong and determined, and yet flexible all at the same time. Diversity is key to overcoming the setbacks.

5. Give us your food philosophy in a nutshell.
Food is the core of my life. Like a spider’s web, the connections within community for food production are complex and yet simple. I believe with my whole being that small farmers networking with one another and people committed to good healthy local food will be the revolution that we need to save our food system. Every person should have the right to choose how they nourish their body. So I say, grow your own or know who does. Support your local farmers!