We recently met Terri at Cats Paw Winery in Rock Hill, S. C. We were so enthralled with the whole idea of Goat Yoga that I begged her to write a guest blog for us. I was thrilled today to find the below in my email inbox.
By Terri Gustin
Winter here on Critter Creek Farm is a slower time…the goats are all bred and no planting needs to be done. The colder winter months – even in South Carolina – are usually a time for reflection and planning for the following season. I am always trying to find ways to bring the farm to people. Critter Creek has several programs that involve our chickens, and I was trying to find ideas involving the goats. Last January, as I was searching the internet and brainstorming, I came across some small farms in Arizona and Oregon that conducted goat yoga classes. Brilliant! With all the goat babies due in the spring, what a great idea to promote the farm to people experience.
I really wanted this to be a unique and memorable event – something people would get really excited about. I went to John Burks the owner of Cat’s Paw Winery and pitched the idea of a combined event involving goat yoga followed by wine tasting at Cat’s Paw. During our research and discussions early in 2017, we discovered that no one else was offering this curious mixture of activities.
Baby goats, craftsman style wines, and yoga….who wouldn’t love it?
After my discussions with Cat’s Paw, I met Tammy Calvin, who is a certified yoga instructor with a passion for bringing yoga to people who have never tried it. She is not only an incredible instructor but also great talking and getting to know our customers.. Tammy enthusiastically agreed to work with us to bring our goat yoga & wine tasting idea to life. We were ready.
Our first goat yoga and wine tasting event was in March 2017 and sold out quickly – way faster than any of us expected. I was a nervous wreck and wanted everyone to have fun. To be honest, I also really wanted them to love my goat babies, but I had no idea how much they would be loved! Most people only have the petting zoo experience of goats attacking them just for food. At the farm, we raise both Nigerian Dwarf goats and Mini Fainting goats; with this combination, you never know what will happen! But our goats are very friendly, and love to be held and pet. During Critter Creek Farm events, I enjoy having the opportunity to educate people on the types of goats we have, as well as their distinct personalities and traits. I have always trained my goats from birth – yes, that is possible, and it’s not unlike training a new puppy. As the summer went on, my goat training continued and evolved a bit, as we became more experienced with the interactions between the yogis and goats. Since they weigh only about 5-15 pounds, our goat babies are allowed to jump freely on folks during the yoga sessions. Once they are about 3 months old, the goats are taught not to jump until I have my training pouch on – this is their cue for proper behavior. Our goats are skilled at posing for Plank, Wheel, or whatever fancy yoga poses you wish to strike!
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the goats don’t enjoy this event as much as people do – they literally line up at the gate with excitement when they see the trailer coming ready to leave the farm to go to the winery!
Goat yoga and wine tasting is a 2 to 2.5-hour event. We start with 1 hour of yoga with the goats roaming around, laying on your mats, babies jumping on your back, and adults waiting for Warrior or Down Dog to use your body as a tunnel to walk under. After yoga, I put on my training pouch, and the goats know it’s time to pose. We get everyone in a circle on their hands and knees and have a goat walk the circle on peoples’ backs – we may have 2 or 3 goats doing this, depending on the ages. We stay as long as needed for everyone to get pictures in their favorite pose with a goat on them.
After pictures, folks go into the winery for a tasting of 5-6 wines made locally at Cat’s Paw. Each wine is truly outstanding, which makes it difficult to choose a favorite. Everyone not only takes home a Cat’s Paw logo wine glass, but also lots of lasting memories. I take pictures during the session and post them on Facebook for everyone to see. At the end of the 2017 season, we moved from the lawn to the cow pasture in a permanent fenced area. The cows love to come to the fence and check us out. After picture time, we also allow the public in to see the goats (remember that if you can’t get a ticket for goat yoga!).
Now, the 2017 season is sadly over – time for more reflection and planning. But we will be back in March 2018! Come spring, the goats that were babies in 2017 will all be mothers. Babies goats are expected each month from February until April, and of course our new brood will become part of the yogi crew. We’ll be at Cat’s Paw Winery every Saturday starting in March 2018. Tickets can be found at www.goatyogasc.com and be sure to check out our pictures on the Critter Creek Farm Facebook page.