A short history of Jan & Ken Spaulding and our goats
February 28th, 2013 marked our 32nd wedding anniversary. It seems like all those years have been busy with either
raising our children (4 daughters) or raising our "kids" (goats numbering well over the thousand mark... possibly
two thousand). Both enterprises have their good and bad aspects. Our children are all grown with children of their own
so that has left us with our "kids".
We started our goat raising long before Al Gore invented the Internet
and long before cell phones. This was back in the days of long distance telephone charges and monthly periodicals with breeders
lists in their classified ad sections. Imagine trying to do that today!
Our first goats were located in Lebanon
N.H. Two angoras gave us our start. One was a doeling and the other a bred doe. We very quickly became hooked.
Just like potato chips "you can't have just one". It didn't take long to have a herd of 40 pampered mohair producing
We enjoyed our angoras because we could have the love of our goats and produce a non-destructive product
(the mohair). As with most things the angora goat craze came to an end and we switched over to the new "next best thing"
the Boer goat. Even though Boers are a meat goat, our plan was to raise top quality breeding stock (which we did) so that
others could be assured of utilizing locally grown animals for their breeding programs.Maine has a very cold climate so hearty,
locally grown stock is important to ensure a thriving goat population.
While our meat and fiber herds expanded,
we also purchased some dairy goats and enjoyed the fruits of their labor... fresh
milk and cheese.
Where did the idea of Goat School® originate?
This is a great question! From the very first days of our goat raising experience we were struck by the lack of information
available to beginning breeders. It seemed like no one wanted to share any information. For us it became a trial and error
experience. This has gone on even to the present time. The remark most often heard, by us, from our "students" always
has to do with their surprise in our willingness to share information. Maybe it comes from our own frustration in having to
learn "the hard way". This to us has always been unacceptable. Goats are wonderful, loving, giving creatures and
deserve the absolute best care that we can provide. The "financial bottom line" has never been the focus of Stony
Knolls Farm or Goat School®. Our bottom line was, is and will continue to be the health and well being of goats.
That being said we tried to participate in every
event that promoted the utilization of goats in the state of Maine.
In November of 2004 Janice
decided that there were people who wanted more information about the proper care of their goats and Goat School® was founded!
As with most things it had a very humble beginning. If memory serves we had about 12 people who attended a 2 hour session
on a cold Saturday afternoon. We provided a small folder with a few handouts in it. We never expected it to grow beyond
that point. Much to our surprise we started to get inquiries about doing a similar event in the spring of 2005. Our first
spring Goat School® was held the weekend before Memorial Day. We realized that a 2 to 3 hour session was not
enough time to adequately answer all the questions that people had so we expanded it to a full day and included a small lunch.
Fall classes came about in 2006 and two day sessions
started with the introduction of guest speakers in the fall of 2007. Our first guest speaker was Bob Glass from Pan Am Vet
Labs in Hutto, Texas. The Goat School® hand-outs had grown into a three ring binder and the pages and topics
were greatly increased from the original. By then we were seeing an increase in the number of attendees from the 12 or so
to groups of 60 or 70. We thought that was excellent! Our first attendees "from away" came from New York State.
Soon the word spread and folks were coming from as far away as West Virginia. Needless to say we were very excited to see
that much interest in our little endeavor.
jump came in 2008 when we were contacted by Hobby Farms magazine. They wanted to do a feature story and photo shoot of our
fall Goat School®. It debuted in their Nov/Dec 2009 issue. Fortunately for all concerned the weather cooperated
and some wonderful images were snapped of both the school and the beautiful Maine foliage. The Hobby Farms article was fantastic
and the response was overwhelming. Our spring 2010 school had 112 attendees from 22 states, coming to Maine from as far away
as Texas, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia. We were astonished at the turn out. It was a cold, damp weekend but everyone
came to learn goat husbandry and have a good time. By the way the Goat School® Manual had expanded to over 100 pages and
was being printed at Staples simply because we couldn't keep up the demand with our copy machine!
If you're lucky enough to get
your picture in the newspaper or maybe the local TV station comes out to your farm for an interview, that notoriety will set
you apart from your peers. But what does it mean when you are featured in many, many national and international publications?
In our mind, that means you must be doing something right! Our expanding operation has been featured in all the top trade
publications. Our goats have made the cover of "The Boer Goat"... the official publication of the American Boer
Goat Association, which, by the way, was the very first time goats from the Northeast were honored in that way.
also been on the cover and featured in two Texas based publications: The Goat Rancher magazine and Meat Goat Monthly. (yes
there is a magazine published for just meat goats). The United States Boer Goat Association has published several articles
written by Janice.
The cover, along with a well written article in the July/August issue of "Dairy Goat Journal"
brought some good notoriety from the dairy goat world.
Our endeavors have garnered attention from all the news
media and this tends to have a snowball effect. Get published once and the likelyhood of future articles is really good. For
example the feature article in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of Hobby Farm that highlighted Goat School® resulted
in a dramatic increase of interest in what we are doing here in Maine. Our "next best thing" was the publishing
contract Janice signed with Downeast Publications in Camden Maine (you may know them from "Downeast Magazine").
They are excited to be the publishers and national distributors of a combination book featuring Janice's Goat School®
book and a compilation of 100 of her ever popular Goat School® buffet recipes. The hard copy book premiered
in world wide distribution, September 2011 and is now also available digitally.
Publications that have shown an interest
in our activities.
Just in case you were curious
Here is a listing of some publications and their issue dates
4/2003 The Bangor Daily News
Maine Farmer (Farm Bureau)
2/2004 Maine Farmer
Boer Goat Magazine (with cover photo)
3/4/2004 USBGA (United States Boer Goat Association)
5/6 & 7/8 2004 USBGA (United States
Boer Goat Association).
6/2004 Country Folks Magazine
2/2007 Meat Goat Monthly
with a cover photo
9/2007 Farming Magazine
Goat Rancher with a cover photo
11/12/2009 Hobby Farms Magazine (feature)
Local Maine TV and newspapers
7/2011 Dairy Goat Journal
Mother Earth News Goat Blog
You can follow our exploits or get in touch with us through the following:
Ken & Janice Spaulding
P.O. Box 322
49 Maple Lane
Saint Albans, Maine 04971
Home of the ORIGINAL Goat School®
Identity theft? Click here to see how Stony Knolls Farm sees it.