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Five years ago, Jennie Grant stormed city hall with a call to legalize urban goat-keeping. Forming a citizens action group called the Goat Justice League,


Jennie Grant, Goat Activist and Author, Talks about Goat Romance, Obesity and Poop

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Five years ago, Jennie Grant stormed city hall with a call to legalize urban goat-keeping. Forming a citizens action group called the Goat Justice League, and bringing homemade chèvre to council members, she won--a battle we chronicled with a cover story. A couple years later, Time Magazine wrote an article on "urban animal husbandry" and called Grant the "godmother of goat lovers."

*See also: Let's Goat Crazy!

This week, Grant has a book arriving in stores called City Goats: The Goat Justice League's Guide to Backyard to Goat Keeping. She describes it as a "how-two romantic comedy." We talked with her about the book and her experiences keeping two goats, Snowflake and Eloise, in her Madrona backyard.

Seattle Weekly: Why romantic?

There's a goat romance in it.

What could you possibly mean by that?

You have to get goats pregnant to produce milk. There was one time I thought Snowflake was pregnant. I had a test done. She wasn't pregnant. We ended up bringing a little young stud buck to live in my yard for a while. They actually kind of developed a relationship.

How so?

We brought Bosco [the stud buck] down to the goat yard, and the first thing Snowflake did was butt him. And he butted her. Then they kind of settled down. I noticed them sleeping together in the goat shed but in opposite corners.

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Harley Soltes
There was a big controversy in 2007 over whether it should be legal to keep goats in the city. What's happened since then?

Not a lot of people ever got goats. Last time I checked, a year ago, there were 56 registered goats in the city. Most people have at least 2 or 3 goats. So I guess maybe 20 people have gotten goats in the city.

Why so few?

They're a lot of work. If you keep them for milk, you have to milk them every morning and every evening for much of the year. At their peak, they give out more than a gallon of milk a day. So you can imagine how much they have to eat. You have to carry bales and bales of hay down to your backyard, and 50-pound bags of alfalfa pellets.

How much does that cost you?

Seventy-five dollars a month, for two.

Given that, why did you start keeping goats?

I had gotten chickens, and it's true about them being the gateway animals. I thought wouldn't it be nice if I could get a cow. People said you could get goats, but I thought I didn't like goat milk. Then, I visited my cousin in California, who had a friend with goats. He said, 'Why don't come over and watch us milk them?' I tasted the milk and I really did like it. I thought: 'This is what I need.'

What's the next-frontier for urban goat-keeping?

Maybe people being allowed to walk their goats. Now, you're not supposed to walk them unless it's for transportation purposes. But there seems to be an obesity epidemic among inner city goats. I have one friend whose goat was morbidly obese. So she had to give it aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day.

Of course there is the poop issue. But there are things like berry bags: They're poop bags that attach to their bottom so they catch their poop.

How do you deal with the obesity issue?

I built amazing an goat shed, which has stairs to a rooftop deck. It's basically a StairMaster for goats.

What's your top tip on keeping goats?

It's really fun, but it's not for everyone.

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