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  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion
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  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion

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Farmers' Kitchen—No Kid Left Behind

Shirley Richardson Tannery Farm Cashmeres & Vermont Chevon

Written By

Shirley Richardson

Written on

April 05 , 2013

Tannery Farm Cashmeres is a small goat farm located in the Northeast Kingdom. My husband and I breed and raise Spanish goats that produce high-quality cashmere fiber and have healthy, robust bodies. Our focus is breeding for quality cashmere on quality meat goats, with the farm’s primary products being cashmere-producing breeding stock and chevon (goat meat), which is handled through my other company, Vermont Chevon.

The people who buy our goats do so for a variety of reasons. Some want to have a couple of goats as pets, or to clear land; others want a few goats so they can harvest their own fleece for spinning and knitting, while still others want to get started in the meat business. In Vermont, the goat meat industry is positioning itself to provide consumers and multiple markets with a consistent year-round supply of premium, farm-grazed goat meat. Toward this end, Vermont Chevon is inviting goat and cow farmers to raise surplus dairy kids using Vermont Chevon standards and protocols. Last November, we co-sponsored the “No Kid Left Behind” symposium in Montpelier to start a conversation about how raising dairy goat kids as a value-added product can help a farm derive more income.

The breed of Spanish goat my husband and I raise is often referred to as the “brush goat.” These goats can turn scrub land, woods, and brush into protein! They are hardy and intelligent, maintaining many traits of their feral ancestors. They have high fertility rates, with few kidding problems, the does are excellent mothers who dote on their kids, and they are easy keepers.

Tannery Farm Cashmere’s breeding philosophy continues the practices developed during the 1970s and 80s, when cashmere-producing goats entered the U.S. from Australia and were actively bred. Our goats are grass and milk fed with no growth hormones or concentrated feed containing protein from animal sources. We pay close attention to our herd and their health status and nutritional needs. A healthy goat produces beautiful cashmere and delicious meat.

Vermont Chevon, which I launched in 2011, is a new resource on Vermont’s agricultural landscape. Its goal is twofold: add additional value to Vermont’s dairy goat farms by converting their surplus livestock into a premium meat source and educate the culinary and consumer markets about this increasingly popular, healthy, and flavorful meat. Vermont Chevon currently supplies Vermont restaurants with goat meat and is focused on growing so that we supply a wide range of markets in the next few years.

We welcome visitors at our farm and recommend calling ahead. Our grandchildren especially love their springtime visits, when the goat kids also arrive. They unload from the car (the children, that is, not the “kids”!) and head straight for the barn to check out the new kids and hug their favorites from the previous spring. There is much excitement as they discover another doe delivering her kids. Our grandchildren are a creative group so we imagine that their goat farm stories will be much like ours, when my husband and I were children growing up on—and visiting—our families’ farms: stories repeated often and fondly remembered.

Here is a recipe for Shirley's Chevon (Goat) Stew.

Photo courtesy of Vermont Chevon

About the Author

Shirley Richardson

Shirley Richardson

Shirley Richardson and her husband farm in Danville. For more information, visit Tannery Farm Cashmeres at tfcashmeres.com and Vermont Chevon at vermontchevon.com.

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Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.