Hiking with Goats, Sheep Herding Demos & More at Vermont Open Farm Week 2021
August 05, 2021
On 200-acres in the hills of Westminster, Liz Shaw and Katrina Hamilton combine their talents at Morse Brook Farm. At Vermont Open Farm Week 2021, the duo will share with the public their expertise and passion for farming.
Morse Brook Farm is one of 45 farms around the state participating in Vermont Open Farm Week from Aug. 8 to 15. Open Farm Week gives visitors a chance to learn more about the origins of local foods, take part in agri-tourism activities, and build relationships with local farmers.
Morse Brook Farm is offering hiking with goats, hayrides, herding demonstrations, and a summertime sugar-on-snow activity with shaved ice and maple syrup. (You can sign-up here to reserve your spot at Morse Brook Farm.)
Hiking with goats is one of the more off-beat activities being offered during Vermont Open Farm Week. As one of the earliest domesticated animals, goats have long been valuable sources of both sustenance and companionship around the world. Goats have the natural instinct to play follow the leader, which makes them excellent hiking companions.
“We have some super friendly goats, and they like to walk with people,” Shaw says. “Hiking with goats is a great opportunity to interact with a farm animal. And we have a view of Mount Monadnock (in New Hampshire) and some beautiful places at the farm to hike.”
-Morse Brook Farm in Westminster / courtesy photo
New Beginnings at Morse Brook Farm
Morse Brook Farm sits on a hill in Windham County, where the land rises from 900 to 1,400-feet in elevation.
Shaw and Hamilton—who joined forces two years ago to purchase and operate the former dairy farm—sell pasture-raised chevon, lamb, and beef. Hamilton hails from Halifax Boers in Brattleboro, and Shaw previously ran Far Fetch Farm in Spofford, N.H. Hamilton’s partner, Matt, oversees maple production on the property while Shaw’s husband, Al, pitches in around the farm.
Hamilton is the daughter of a dairy farmer and is a vet technician. Shaw has raised sheep for about 12 years and also has experience herding border collies.
“At our herding demo, hopefully people will walk away knowing a little more about the role of sheep and working with dogs,” Shaw says. “I’ll show people about how dogs and a person work together to move sheep.”
Activities at Vermont Open Farm Week 2021
Vermont Farm Week includes more than 90 events, ranging from themed farm tours and feeding pigs to learning about land history and food sovereignty with the Abenaki Land Link Project.
“The range of events this year is pretty amazing. There are so many different types of experiences for the public,” says Tara Pereira, executive director of the Vermont Fresh Network, one of the organizers of the event. “Open Farm Week is a great time to explore Vermont’s agricultural community and have fun at the same time.”
At Morse Brook Farm, Shaw and Hamilton are committed to sharing their knowledge about agriculture with the public.
“One of the reasons Katrina and I connected in the first place is because we both care about education,” Shaw says. “And that’s a great thing about Open Farm Week.”
Learn more about Open Farm Week at diginvt.com.
-Morse Brook Farm in Westminster / courtesy photo (main photo courtesy of Morse Brook Farm)