SOMERVILLE — The wind carried the echoes of bells Sunday across the field.

The sources of those bells: A Nubian goat wearing a red-plaid blanket, an Alpine goat and then other goats leading laughing children and their families. 

In the warmth of a shed, Nubian goats laid down near one another, gently nibbling on hay, while Alpine goats seemed to look for mischief, finding paper holiday decorations to yank down. 

This was typical of their personalities, according to Anil Roopchand, who owns Pumpkin Vine Family Farm with his wife, Kelly Payson-Roopchand. 

For some families attending the Yule Goat celebration Sunday at Pumpkin Vine Family Farm, it felt like the start of a new tradition.

Amber Corum, of Randolph, said it was where she wanted her 4-year-old son, Everett, to be. 

Anil Roopchand walks a goat Sunday at the Yule Goat celebration Sunday at the Pumpkin Vine Family Farm in Somerville. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

“My husband and I both work full time,” Corum said, “and he is in day care. This is the kind of place where we want to bring Everett.”

“He calls it his farm,” said Corum’s mother, Nancy Soulniers. 

Corum’s sister and roommate were also at the event, volunteering in the market and handling goats. 

The farm is a goat dairy down a long, muddy dirt road overlooking the hills of the Midcoast. It has about 40 goats, 33 of which are milked by the Roopchand family. 

While Everett loves the goats, with Sunny, the breeding buck, his favorite, Corum said it is the safety and closeness of the rural community setting that she appreciates. 

“And he just loves the goat cheese. I do, too,” Corum said. “I think he ate most of a wedge with his baguette.”

Having families join the celebration is something the Roopchand family hoped would happen. 

“We like people to talk to people and make connections and create community,” said Payson-Roopchand.

While rural Maine has many farms, people living in the country do not necessarily get to spend time with animals, according to Payson-Roopchand.

Payson-Roopchand said she grew up on Bailey Island, next to a farm where she spent hours helping with chores. She wants people to come to her family’s farm to see livestock.

In 2016, Yule Goat was open by invitation only. It has since grown into a public event. This year, the family included a fundraiser for an Indian school where one of its customers teaches.

Bailey Allegro accompanied her close friend and parents to the farm this year during one of its regular markets and, like many who visit, she became inspired to share her experience teaching at the Asha Deep School in Varanasi, India.

In the mountain village of Varanasi, most people were illiterate, Payson-Roopchand learned, and the school focused on holistic health, including self-esteem and environmental sustainability.

“I think it was just having children of that age who are benefiting from a wonderful school,” Payson-Roopchand said. “Seeing these other children who often cannot afford the fees, it just makes it really personal.”

Allegro said residents of Varanasi share the streets with goats, according to Payson-Roopchand. And as a fundraiser for the school, photographer Christy Sommers made a calendar, “Goats in Sweaters.” 

“Education for each child per month is $16,” Payson-Roopchand said. “And the calendars are $14.” 

Basia Robinson decorates a pine cone during the Yule Goat celebration Sunday at the Pumpkin Vine Family Farm in Somerville. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Payson-Roopchand said she wanted to help so she bought more calendars, which she had for sale at the Yule Goat celebration to help the school. She also set out a basket to collect donations. At the end of the celebration, only one calendar remained. 

“My husband and I have both lived outside of the U.S.,” Payson-Roopchand said, adding she has lived in South Africa and the Caribbean, while Anil is from Trinidad.

“We experienced some of the global inequities in resources and opportunities, so we both could easily relate,” she said.

“The goat theme made it an easy way to link our event to the fundraiser: the Yule Goat traditionally brings presents to kids at Christmas, so why not have our Yule Goats bring gifts to kids in India this year?”

In Scandinavian tradition, she said, the Yule Goat brings presents to children at Christmas, accompanied by the Tomten, a farm gnome.

For those who would like to contribute, Payson-Roopchand asks to be contacted by Jan. 1, 2020, and she will place an order for more calendars.

Her farm does not profit from the sale of the calendars. 

Payson-Roopchand expects the farm to continue similar fundraisers. 

While developing countries are in need, she said, “there are inequalities in our state. It is our responsibility to help.” 


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