Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats
We're blessed to live in the stunning coastal town of Westport, MA, 60 miles south of Boston in the region known as the South Coast. We're halfway between the old mill town of Fall River and the old whaling city of New Bedford, with Little Compton, RI directly to our west. Westport is an old dairy town with miles of country roads and stone walls. The West and East branches of the Westport River flow through town, converging into the Harbor and emptying into Buzzards Bay (panoramic photo from The Knubble at the Harbor's mouth, looking north, is below). Most visitors come to Westport in the summer months, but those of us who live here love the town during all four seasons.
Great Pyrenees Livestock Guardians
SWEET GOAT FARM
Welcome to our historic farm in Westport, MA where we raise show-quality Nigerian Dwarf goats (a miniature dairy breed). We milk our does daily from spring through early winter and drink the delicious raw milk and make yogurt, kefir, cheese, caramels, soap, and bath products.
We have 2 Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs to protect our herd from predators. In our area (southeast New England) that usually means coyotes, foxes, fishers (members of the weasel family), eagles, and owls.
We also tend fruit beds and a small orchard and make delicious jams, jellies, and pies with our fruit.
In May of 2011 we bought the historic Oscar Palmer Farm on Adamsville Road, a former stagecoach stop on the New Bedford/Little Compton line. The farm has been owned by only 5 families since 1700 -- the Potters, the Tripps, the Brownells, The Tabers, and the Palmers. When its final Palmer owner died in 2001 and the heirs wished to sell the property for maximum value, the 300-year-old family farmstead was purchased and saved from development by the town of Westport, the Westport Land Conservation Trust, and the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations. After holding the property for 3 years and placing historic, conservation, and agricultural restrictions on it, the groups initiated an RFP process to sell the property outright to new owners who would agree to historically restore the buildings and bring the farm back into active agricultural use. Our proposal was chosen and we took ownership in May of 2011.
The 29-acre farm has a center chimney Cape Cod-style house (built in 3 stages beginning circa 1705). The 4-acre barnyard is a classic layout of small outbuildings: an 1800's English-style bank barn, a former blacksmith shop, a corn crib, and 3 small sheds. About 10 acres are planted with hay fields and pasture. Stone walls criss-cross the property everywhere, including deep in the woods. Tucked between our farm and the farm to our west is historic Westport cemetery #858, a family burying ground for the Brownell and Handy families. The ~70 marked graves include two Revolutionary War veterans and two War of 1812 veterans.
We have reclaimed the back pasture from multiflora rose and are carefully planting an heirloom-variety orchard. The remaining 14 acres of land are wooded, and the lovely Angeline Brook meanders through the property. Angeline Brook is one of the few remaining Massachusetts cold-water estuaries that empties into salt water (in our case Buzzards Bay) and supports an active population of sea-run brook trout (also called salters). Salters swim downstream from the native brooks where they were born to feed in the salt water for a few months during the summer. They return to their native freshwater tributaries in the late summer or autumn to spawn.
Our meticulous restoration of the house, barn, and outbuildings was a 5-year labor of love, assisted by funding from the Westport Community Preservation Commission and a cadre of talented tradesmen. We excitedly moved to the farm with our goat herd in the fall of 2016. The former blacksmith shop is now a one-room guest cottage, available for farm stays on Airbnb (https://airbnb.com/h/sweetgoatfarm-wpt-ma). We hope to open the farm to the public soon with seasonal farm tours, classes, and a small farm store (featuring goat milk products, baked goods, an antiques corner, and a rotating local artists gallery).
Please see the Farm Story page for details about the restoration and photos.