Food & Drink

The New Chicken

Jennie Grant, the City of Seattle, and the Greatness of Goats

The New Chicken

all photos by Kelly O

DÉCLASSÉ NO MORE Snowflake’s living the good life in Madrona.

+ Enlarge this Image
Yo MTV, welcome to my crib...
+ Enlarge this Image
...roommate #1
+ Enlarge this Image
...roommate #2
+ Enlarge this Image
preggers and eating for two
+ Enlarge this Image
Madrona, 98144

Jennie Grant founded the Goat Justice League in 2007, after she was outed for keeping two goats, Brownie and Snowflake, in her Madrona backyard. Grant collected 1,000 pro-goat signatures and took on the city council, championing the right to own goats in the city and Seattle's "urban farm" movement. (In the process, Richard Conlin got castrated—more on that to follow.) Keeping a few chickens in the backyard isn't uncommon these days; Seattle Tilth holds a City Chickens Coop Tour every summer. With goats, Grant explains, you get a cost-effective milk supply, fertilizer, and a friend, all in one cute package. But don't goats eat aluminum cans and smell really bad? Aren't they evil and/or just plain dumb? Grant wanted to set the record straight on a few misperceptions, as well as explain that a Nigerian Dwarf is not something you find in Lustlab.

Why are people so freaked out by goats?

[Sigh] I think goats started to get a bad rap in the 1930s, during the Dust Bowl and Depression, when farmers left for the cities. We were transforming from an agrarian society to an industrialized one. Goats became déclassé.

Why was legalizing dairy goats in Seattle an important issue for you?

I think it promotes local food security—it's like asking, "Why garden?" And personally, I wanted access to fresh milk for my family. I can use only so much, but my philosophy is that I can either breed a dairy goat—which can live happily in my backyard as a pet—or have a factory farm breed a cow. If I breed my goats once a year, I'll have milk for the next 12 months. I make chèvre, mozzarella, yogurt, butter, ice cream, soufflés with my eggs and cheese. [Female dairy goats (does) must be bred and give birth to baby goats (kids) in order to produce milk. Uncastrated males (bucks) can be smelled into the next county and are ornery as hell. Castrated males (wethers) end up as pets or on the grill at barrio backyard barbecues.]

Goat people have a reputation for being... kind of weird. Not that you're weird or anything. But why goats?

I grew up in the suburbs of Northern California. I've always had dogs [Grant also founded the Pug Gala, which 15 years later is said to be the world's largest gathering of pugs—so big, it's held in an airplane hangar in Sand Point], but I dreamed of owning a cow someday. I didn't like store-bought goat's milk, but the first time I tried it fresh, I realized I needed goats. I got my goats in 2006, after asking my neighbors if I could try it out. They enjoyed them; whenever they'd have dinner parties, I'd get all of these people coming over to see my goats. Then someone reported me, so I founded the Goat Justice League.

I hear Richard Conlin is responsible for reclassifying the law [City Ordinance 122508] to count goats as "small animals," just like dogs and cats, and that he got a lot of shit for it.

Well, the media denounced his efforts as "silly and trivial."

Did they have a point?

Is it silly and trivial to own a dog? Goats don't harm other creatures; they're intelligent, curious, and affectionate. They don't birth litters, so overpopulation isn't an issue. They provide a nutritious product [goat's milk is also more digestible than cow's milk]. To Conlin, this was a constituent issue and a matter of supporting localized food production.

Then you named one of your newborn kids after him. How did he feel about that?

I think he was honored. When I took the goat in to be neutered, the vet said, "It's not every day I get to castrate a councilman!"

What are the regulations on owning goats in Seattle?

You're permitted three small animals, so you could have a dog or cat and two goats. Goats desperately need friends, and a dog won't do. Kids must be castrated and dehorned at six weeks, and males sold after 12 weeks. They must be "mini," meaning any purebred standard breed [such as a Nubian or Saanen] crossed with a Nigerian Dwarf [a small breed of West African origin].

So they're the new backyard chicken?

Currently, only a few major cities allow goats, but the movement is growing [Conlin himself reports that at last count, Seattle has around 150 goat residents]. It's funny—goat people have this reputation for being slovenly, but a lot of the owners I know are Martha Stewart types who have created what I call "stylish urban goat living" in their gardens.

What's next on your agenda?

Recently, I wrote Michelle Obama about getting goats to go with the White House organic garden, as a show of support for local food. I haven't heard back yet. recommended

For more information, see www.goatjusticeleague.org and www.miniaturedairygoats.com.

 

Comments (18) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
I don't see anything wrong with having miniature goats, per se, but I do wonder about how the city Animal Shelter is supposed to deal with "homeless" or abused/neglected goats? They don't really have the facilities to keep goats. Does the Goat Justice League have anything to do with supporting rescue?
Posted by maps on February 4, 2010 at 2:15 PM · Report this
2
Bad jokes come into real life ... amazing.

Her goats are too skinny. Get them some alfalfa. They don't thrive on garbage. No, they don't.

Had goats my whole life on a small farm. Baby goats are flat out adorable.

Very good eating, better than lamb or beef.
Posted by Billy is my friend, so is nanny on February 4, 2010 at 8:12 PM · Report this
3 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
4
@1 Plenty of farms raising milk goats in Western Washington. Also many tasty stews and other dishes from Latin and African cuisines.
Posted by SoSea Resident on February 5, 2010 at 7:20 PM · Report this
5
I had a couple of friends whose parents raised goats. They're extraordinarily good at terrorizing children. I hope parents who are considering goat-raising think about this.

Yes, of course goat cheese, goat wool, and goat meat is great.
Posted by drizzle89 on February 9, 2010 at 12:12 PM · Report this
6
Check out this great video we made about raising goats in the Rainier Valley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZNRbHEZa…
Posted by Pangeality on February 9, 2010 at 1:22 PM · Report this
MavenX 7
Sick, all you weirdo's commenting on this nice, heart-warming story, about GOAT MEAT!!! Where are we? Pinch me! Are we in the back woods of Louisiana?!?!? We're talking about these adorable, individual animals that are fricking cute and the only comments are about how good to eat they are!!! NO WONDER The Stranger rarely EVER features animal stories, because apparently they'd be pandering these psychopathic and flesh-hungry audience? What if, per say, you were all pro-children and they did a story on cute kids being adopted from some depraved country, and I wrote "mmmmmmmmm kids sure taste good!" HAVE SOME COMMON DECENCY FOR GOD'S SAKE. Leave APPROPRIATE comments where they should go.
Posted by MavenX on February 9, 2010 at 9:12 PM · Report this
MavenX 8
Sick, all you weirdo's commenting on this nice, heart-warming story, about GOAT MEAT!!! Where are we? Pinch me! Are we in the back woods of Louisiana?!?!? We're talking about these adorable, individual animals that are fricking cute and the only comments are about how good to eat they are!!! NO WONDER The Stranger rarely EVER features animal stories, because apparently they'd be pandering these psychopathic and flesh-hungry audience? What if, per say, you were all pro-children and they did a story on cute kids being adopted from some depraved country, and I wrote "mmmmmmmmm kids sure taste good!" HAVE SOME COMMON DECENCY FOR GOD'S SAKE. Leave APPROPRIATE comments where they should go.
Posted by MavenX on February 9, 2010 at 9:15 PM · Report this
Matthew Richter 9
wow, mavenx, that one... um... really got your goat, huh?
Posted by Matthew Richter http://www.xomonline.com on February 9, 2010 at 11:49 PM · Report this
MavenX 10
Matthew, yes most certainly did,thanks for clarifying. Regarding the joke? Har dee har har! ;)(grabbing me sides!)
Posted by MavenX on February 10, 2010 at 8:22 AM · Report this
devon rocketship 11
It's sick to comment on goat meat? Grow up already. Pigs are adorable too, is it sick to like bacon? There are already too many goats without homes - My mom runs a goat rescue (www.naughtygoat.org) - Yet people like Grant are breeding goats once per year (or more) so they can keep the milk coming. You say goat meat is "sick" so... What are we supposed to do with all these goats?
Posted by devon rocketship http://swimtothemoon.livejournal.com on February 10, 2010 at 9:19 AM · Report this
12
Jennie Grant should rescue some goats from this goat rescue organization:

http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/newmoo…
Posted by No goat milk for Jennie on February 10, 2010 at 9:32 AM · Report this
MavenX 13
Devon that's like asking what we're supposed to do with all these dogs or all these people?? If there's a will there's a way, just like we seem to make almost 7 billion people on the planet "work", although seriously debatable. What a strange way to look at a species! Granted, this article was under "Chow" with a headline implying it was about goat meat, but in actuality the article was about misconceptions regarding goats and their personalities...not GOAT MEAT. You see the world in quite a one dimensional frame when it comes the the "slots" that specific species belong in.
Posted by MavenX on February 10, 2010 at 1:43 PM · Report this
14
i wouldnt bother reckoning with mavenX, he/she is obviously a vegan zealot.
Posted by rawr on February 10, 2010 at 7:54 PM · Report this
15
P.S I think goat products are a great alternative to cow products. It is too bad that they have to be pregnant to be producing milk though, but start working up an appetite for that goat meat! goat burgers...goat rump roast...goat goat goat
Posted by rawr on February 10, 2010 at 7:55 PM · Report this
MavenX 16
Actually "RawR", I'm not even vegan, but a pesco-vegetarian. I NEVER said I was vegan and not sure how you arrived at that assumption?? I was pointing out the fact that the comments were offensive talking about goats being "very good eating" and making "tasty stews" when that was so clearly OFF the point of the article. You're militant, defensive and righteous carnivorous stance ring of zealot more then I, but thanks.
Posted by MavenX on February 12, 2010 at 6:02 PM · Report this
17
Most religions have something "written" about diet and how to eat.

Attitudes such as Mavens continue to enforce the image with the masses that the vegetarian/vegan (and the 50 different -ians or -ans in between) is nothing shy from a cult or religious follower based on diet.

There are many great points on every side to be heard - righteous indignation seldom accomplishes much.
Posted by EVJ on February 22, 2010 at 7:05 AM · Report this
18
More Seattle goat love with live video of a new "kids" being born, very beautiful indeed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfg6ZSwRJ…
Posted by SeattleFresh on April 13, 2010 at 1:53 PM · Report this

Add a comment