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Cold Goats Farm

 

Our Town:  Cold Goats Farm in Haddam
submitted by Kent Jarrell on 5/13/17
Bob and Vivienne McGarry are living the dream they created at Cold Goats Farm, nestled on the gentle slopes leading down to the Connecticut River up country in Haddam Neck.

Cold Goats farm

It started with a single horse named Abby back in 1996 after Bob retired after 20 years with the U.S. Coast Guard.  Abby is still around, with a lot of company.  The farm has grown to 21 sheep, 9 goats, and 55 chickens.  The twice a year shearing of the angora goats produces mohair and the wool from the sheep is also turned into yarn. The products of this working farm:  mill-spun and hand-spun yarns, roving for spinners, needle felting kits for fiber artisans, rugs, shawls, felted decorations, eggs, and the animals themselves.

Feeding time

It’s a 24/7 kind of life.  Earlier this month, all plans were cancelled one Friday morning when Bobbi Jean, one of the sheep, suddenly gave birth to four babies.
“It is a lot of work,” said Vivienne, as she nursed the youngest baby with a bottle of milk, “I enjoy every minute of it, beginning with the animals.”

Bob describes his new found skills as the “standard spiral down additive behavior” and adds with a laugh, “It’s awfully good for your health.”
Set on five acres, the McGarry’s knew this spread was the place for them the first time they saw it.  “We came down the hills and there were the fields.  It was so beautiful,” said Bob.  “It’s a big stress release.”
This is not a hobby farm.  “We don’t have unlimited funds,” says Bob.  “I would like to break even.  The question is how do we get there?”
For now the path towards profit is through smart animal care, mindful budgeting, and effective marketing and selling.
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Spinning yarn

Out on the grazing field, three small solar units provide the power for the electrified fences.  A cooler box out on the road contains fresh eggs for sale.  Wool from the McGarry farm is gathered and sent to the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association and ends up in new patterns each year that are sold under the Connecticut Blanket Project.   The McGarry’s attend fairs, farmers markets, and will bring their animals to a summer camp program in June sponsored by the Haddam Historical Society at the Thankful Arnold House.  And just maybe, there might, someday, be a camp program at Cold Goats Farm.

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“There is the educational aspect,” said Bob.  “The people of Connecticut have lost the connection to their agricultural roots and we want to share that.”
Haddam Neck is a small rural locality, with about 200 families, tucked between the Connecticut and Salmon Rivers.  Bob is the Chief of the Haddam Neck Volunteer Fire Department and prides himself on the independence of the community.
“It’s a throwback to an earlier time. A satisfaction of self-sustainability. We are on our own, and that is just fine,” said Bob.
“There is a small community feeling over here,” says Vivienne.  “Everybody watches out for everybody else”

3 Responses to Cold Goats Farm

  1. Robin Munster

    May 14, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Wonderful story!

  2. Elizabeth Malloy

    May 15, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Cold Goats Farm is absolutely wonderful and Bob and Vivienne are committed and enthusiastic in everything they do! Both give back to the community in many ways. The farm’s products are top notch and offer many interesting fiber products …..truly grown and made in Haddam.

  3. Ed Munster

    May 26, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    My thanks to Kent Jarrell for this article and photos and for bringing Cold Goats Farm to our attention as well as thanks to Vivienne and Bob for sharing their story with the rest of us. It was a fun read!