The goats nibble bark on the trees at Ten Apple Farm in Gray during the breaks on the Snowshoeing with Goats Experience on Saturday, in which interesting information about goats is shared with visitors. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

GRAY — Step one to hiking with goats: Adopt a herd mentality. 

Curry the goat is one of the younger goats at Ten Apple Farm in Gray and seems to enjoy being out in the snow with visitors on the Snowshoeing with Goats Experience. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“When you hear me calling to the goats, I’m talking to everyone,”  Ten Apple Farm owner Karl Schatz said before leading about a dozen keen hikers and snowshoers on a 1-mile hike through his property. 

“You’re all goats today, you’re all part of the herd,” said Schatz. 

Eight alpine goats adorned with red, plaid scarves were the guests of honor on the trails Saturday afternoon.  Turns out, goats are pretty good hiking partners. They don’t protest or complain but are content with foraging, stripping bark from trees and munching on boughs of trees along the trail. 

And it makes sense; according to Ten Apple Farm co-owner Margaret Hathaway. The goats have been trained to follow the leader since birth.

“All the goats are born here on the farm, and we’ve been training them since they were born to follow … most of them have been doing this their whole lives,” said Hathaway.

And on the trail, it’s clear that Schatz and Hathaway are the leaders; if a goat wanders too far off trail, all Schatz has to do is call and the horned ruminants would come running. 

Two of the goats at the Ten Apple Farm snowshoeing experience butted heads a few times. Unlike most dairy goats, the goats at Ten Apple Farm have retained their horns. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

According to Hathaway, the goat hikes started about 10 years ago, a few years after she and Schatz left New York, spent a year traveling around the country living at various goat farms and settled in Gray. 

Karl Schatz goes over some of the history of the farm and the ground rules for snowshoeing with goats Saturday at Ten Apple Farm in Gray. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Part of the “Year of the Goat,” of which they wrote a book, was spending time in Wyoming, where goats carry gear and bags and go out hiking. They were inspired to implement the same system, sans the gear-carrying, with their goats. 

“They’re dairy goats, so we milk them,  but wanted another way to hang out with them. Ten years ago, (we) started taking them out to exercise them. We opened it up to friends, and it kind of just evolved,” said Hathaway. 

And evolved it has. Over the years, the pair have been featured in papers and on television. Hathaway said that though the hikes pre-date the goat yoga trend, they see the interest in goat-themed activities on the rise. 

The simple answer is that goats are cute. But, according to Hathaway, the more complex answer is that many folks want to regain a connection to nature. 

“We’ve been doing this for longer than the yoga thing. We’ve definitely seen an interest in goats springing up … doing unusual things with goats. It seems to be part of a trend, people want to do things with nature,” said Hathaway.

Kathy Jordan looks back to see that she is still being accompanied by her goat companions during the Snowshoeing with Goats experience at Ten Apple Farm in Gray on Saturday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Goat hiking gets participants in close proximity to the much-loved bleaters and gets them a front row seat into Ten Apple Farm’s beautiful, 18-acre-property. 

“It ticks both boxes,” said Hathaway. 

Tickets are $15 per adult, $10 for teens and seniors, $5 for kids (5-12). Those keen on goat hiking can buy tickets at tenapplefarm.com/wordpress/goathikes/

Karl Schatz leads the way out of the barn Saturday with several of his goats during the Snowshoeing with Goats Experience at Ten Apple Farm in Gray. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Goats are natural pack animals and will fall in with guests hiking during the Snowshoeing with Goats Experience at Ten Apple Farm in Gray. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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