Herds of Baby Goat Photos from Goatchella 2017

Ewe must see these adorable baby goats from CUESA's Ninth Annual Goat Festival, held this weekend at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

We’re not kidding when we say we’ve got photos of all the lovable baby goats from the 2017 Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) Goat Festival, commonly known as “Goatchella”. More than a thousand goat lovers converged on the weekly Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market to pet and interact with real, live baby goats from Toluma Farms and Tomales Farmstead Creamery.

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

But there was more to get your goat at the 2017 Goat Festival, where goat-ees could also learn about humane animal agriculture from farmers who raise goats, see cheese-making demos, and take cooking classes.

“Obviously, people love goats,” CUESA marketing and communications manager Brie Mazurek tells SF Weekly. “The real mission of the event is to connect people who live in the city with local farmers and food producers, so we can bring some of our rich foodshed to the city.”

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

Believe it or not, it is actually legal to own goats in San Francisco — but only if they’re female. “You can have up to two female goats for personal use,” says CUESA volunteer Kevin Shumaker. “Male goats tend to get very territorial, and they tend to be very aggressive and they’re pretty destructive. The females tend to just graze.”

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

Goats are outrageously efficient livestock to have around. “They produce a lot of milk,” Shumaker says. “They’re good about trimming stuff, they love to eat fresh growth.”

But goats are also very high-maintenance. “They need a little more space than the average San Francisco backyard,” he points out. “They tend to eat a fair amount. They can be kind of noisy. They do require caring and cleaning after them. They will poop in your backyard.”

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

There was much more to the Goat Festival than just petting the goats, as crowds mobbed the pop-up restaurant booths for samples of goat milk and goat cheese delectables. “I did not realize people here are goat cheese freaks,” says Ramni Levy of King Knish, who sold out of his goat cheese latkes.

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 Huge lines were in place all day at The Farmer’s Wife grilled cheese booth, one that is soon to open a brick and mortar sandwich shop in Sebastopol. Their immensely popular goat cheese grilled cheese sandwich was served with a honey lavender brine bacon. “Last year I put it on the menu for this festival, and I never took it off,” says Farmer’s Wife owner Kendra Kolling.

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

“People associate goat cheese as more of a savory good,” says Jen Musty of Batter Bakery. “But it’s great to use it as a sweet element as well, pairing it with a lot of fresh fruits.”

Three Babes Bakeshop also served a sweet strawberry goat cheese pie. “We just like the tang and the different taste that it gives to those products,” says Three Babes’ baking operations manager Cassidy Bennett.

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

Goat milk can also be easier to digest, especially when treated. “These are some very active enzymes,” says Mariko Grady of Aedan Fermented Foods, whose goat cheese pickling sauce sagohachi is marinated for three entire days. “Enzymes will break down the protein and create umami enzymes. So we need three days to marinate the different, milder flavor. These enzymes will break down our food and it’s easier to digest.”

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

There are actually dozens of different breeds of goats around the world. Kenny Baker of Watsonville’s Lonely Mountain Farms raises a breed called Nigerian Dwarf goats. “They have the highest butterfat content in their milk,” Baker says. “They make really nice rich cheeses and the milk itself is pretty sweet and delicious, not goat-y in the slightest.”

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

It wasn’t all milk and cheese, as the pop-up restaurant Rasoi was serving a tasty goat meat curry.“We add the protein to it. It could be goat, it could be lamb, it could be beef,” says the chef Paresh. “The curry, the sauce, is really the most important part of the whole thing.” 

This being San Francisco, there were of course animal rights protesters on the scene at Goatchella. Their procession, signage and messaging can be seen in the video above.

But goat farming is much different than factory farming, and has a greater commitment to health and sustainability. “We don’t use hormones,” says Achadinha Cheese Company co-owner Donna Pacheco. “We could give our [goat] girls hormones so they produce milk all year long, but we want to work with their natural cycle. I don’t want to give that milk to my kids if I’m using hormones, so why would I want to sell it to the public?”

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

In fact, Achadinha has to change their menu to accommodate the goats’ nursing calendar. “Right now the goats are nursing their babies,” Pacheco says. “I don’t have enough milk to do just a goat’s milk cheese right now, so I’m blending it with the cow’s milk.”

Joe Kukura, SF Weekly

 

Goats’ unique biology makes them a bad fit for factory farming techniques. “With cows you can artificially inseminate them,” Pacheco notes. “Goats aren’t like that. They need their boyfriends to bring them into season and go through those motions. That goat musk brings the girls into season, you have to work with that natural process”

That’s right, goats are actually monogamous animals. (Maybe they stay together for the kids?) But if you want to get into a long-term relationship with the baby goats, keep an eye on the CUESA website for next year’s event information, because admission to the Goatchella baby goat pen does require advance ticketing.

And just like Coachella, the tickets sell out pretty much immediately.

 

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