Ongoing news of the coronavirus pandemic can be depressing along with the recommended social distancing. Alaskans have coped in different ways like getting outside, exercising, or completing home projects. For one young couple in Petersburg, they’ve decided to invest in some baby miniature goats as a way to become more self-sufficient in this time of uncertainty. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:
A block from downtown Petersburg, along the main street, Danny Christensen lives in a two-story home on a corner lot. Today in the back yard, two tiny goats are hopping around.
“New people, are you excited?” Christensen asks the goats.
He carefully opens the gate.
“They will just dive right out,” Christensen said. “This is Lilith or Lily, she’s really affectionate. And this is Bell.”
Lily and Bell are Mini-Alpine dairy goats with black, brown, and white fur. They’ll grow to just over two feet tall. Eventually, they’ll produce milk but for right now they’re just jumping around the yard on lumber, a chair, and even a couch.
“Things for the goats to climb on, it’s their playground, that’s what they enjoy doing,” Christensen said.
Christensen had been thinking about becoming more self-sufficient for a while and the coronavirus pushed that idea forward. He saw the goats for sale in Sitka on Facebook and had them shipped over.
“They seem like pretty happy goats, maybe a little clumsy still, they are a little out of toddler-hood,” he said.
They’re just 9 weeks old and they like attention.
“We basically check on them no less than every two hours,” Christensen said. “You know, they’ll start complaining after too long. ‘Hey, it’s lonely back here.’ So you come out. Yesterday, I brought the guitar out here for a bit because, it’s not like I need to be super hands on with them, they just want more company.”
Cooing over the babies nearby is Danny’s partner, Noelle McPherson. She also loves animals and spent a few months last year at a goat farm learning about them. She says Lily and Bell are bringing them joy during the time of COVID.
“They love to play and they love people and they’re just so jubilant,” McPherson said. “It’s just a really good time to have something positive like them happening. It’s just like some good news in all of this.”
“And I’m excited about getting my own milk,” Christensen added. “You know, it’s six dollars a gallon here–no hard feelings to the grocery stores–but I’m very excited about kind of a self-subsistence lifestyle.”
They have a start: a bunny, three rats, three cats, and a dog.
Christensen’s dad has been working on the greenhouse and garden for years along with a small apple and cherry orchard along-side the house. Christensen would like to expand all of that and add some chickens.
“I do also want to get bees, make our own honey,” he said, “but, you know, that’s a whole other can of worms and it’s not going to happen this year for sure.”
Today, they’re just focused on Lily and Bell and taking them for a walk. They use collars and leashes like for a dog.
They head out to the sidewalk towards downtown. They’ve gone on a few walks before and have found that the two baby goats stay close. They’re focused on walking forward with the human herd and don’t get distracted by plants or the traffic just feet away.
They make a big loop by the library, the hospital, and back to the main downtown street. Several drivers do a double take and there are a lot of surprised smiles.
Christensen is fine with the attention and says he is open to sharing the goats grazing skills with anyone who needs their salmon berry bushes thinned out. But there’s one condition.
“As long as there’s somebody there to hang out with them,” he said. “They like to stay near.”
The couple realizes achieving their small farm dream in town will take cooperation with their neighbors. Chicken coops are common in town but large farm animals are not. So far though, Christensen says, they’ve been understanding and he’s very grateful for that.