Life with Goats

Photo: Joanne Rathe Strohmeyer

Over the last decade, my goatherd has taken me on a profound and exploratory journey — leading me to places I could not possibly have predicted.

When my first goats made my suburban yard their home, my main goal was to be able to produce my own protein — specifically, whey, yogurt and cheese. Since then, I have become more and more deeply immersed in this form of nourishment and in its interconnections with both spiritual and nutritional dimensions.

When I feed and care for my goats, not only am I nourished by their dairy products in return, but the soil in my gardens and the people I care about are too: my family, my clients and my local community all benefit. Indirectly, the global community in all of its ecological connections becomes enriched as well.

In my documentary film Daughters of Anatolia, which follows a family of nomadic goat herders in rural Turkey, I sought to give voice and visibility to a little-seen corner of the goat world and to the meaning of goat life with humans.

Because of the similarities between goat and human milk, working with this vital essence has provided me an opportunity to more deeply explore the maternal process of giving life and providing milk for the young. It has offered profound insight into the numerous parallels between goat and human lives.

This daily practice of maintaining dairy goats in an urban setting has allowed me to become more present, more responsive and more resilient in the face of challenge. Caring for goats — in all the ways that manifest itself — has become my meditation practice.