Kidding around at Nightingale Farms |

Kidding around at Nightingale Farms

Patti Bess
Special to The Union

Did you know that 70 percent of the world eats goat meat? It's the most popular meat that most Americans have probably never tried.

According to the USDA Nutrient Data Base, goat meat is lower in calories, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than an equal serving size of beef, pork or lamb.

Because of the molecular structure, it is also more easily digested. Though almost unheard of 15 years ago, the demand for goat meat is growing.

This is good news for local farmer Shannon Frieberg and her husband, Steve Nightingale.

After too many years sitting at a desk, Shannon retired early from her Nevada County job and hasn't stopped working since.

Now she and Steve spend their days at Nightingale Farms surrounded by their extended family — 16 kids with 30 on the way, 15 mother goats and six handsome and eager bucks. And I'm not kidding!

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The goats share their pasture with six Icelandic sheep that produce high-quality, award-winning wool for hand-spinning and weaving projects.

The sheep seem to oversee the pasture and monitor the playful antics of the continuously curious goats.

Sheep and goats make harmonious pasture mates. Sheep eat grass and goats love weeds.

At Nightingale Farms, Shannon raises Oberhausli goats, a Swiss breed known for its mellow nature. Even though this breed is smaller in body structure, they produce large quantities of milk.

It has a delicate sweet flavor and less butterfat than other Swiss breeds. Shannon sells the neutered males for family pets.

They raise Nubian/Boer crossbred goats for sale as 4H/FFA projects or meat.

Later this spring, their goat meat will be processed at a USDA facility so that Nightingale can begin selling it by the cut, hoping this will expand their market to people who don't necessarily want to buy a whole or half side of goat.

The goats of Nightingale Farms have won many awards at the state fair. Shannon has traveled out of the state to build a herd from exceptionally good blood lines.

Nightingale Farms is located on six acres along Butterfly Creek in the beautiful Highway 174 valley.

A few years ago Shannon and Steve bought another parcel of land on Meadow Drive, where they pasture some of the animals.

If you are driving along Highway 174, it is one of the prettiest barns in Nevada County.

"I prefer to keep fewer goats and chickens per acre. It's less stress on the land and promotes better health in the animals," Shannon commented.

Most farms have to develop several streams of income in order to be financially viable.

Shannon uses the goat milk to make skin-rejuvenating goat milk lotion, which is sold at Penny's Diner, Summer Thyme's, Shaw's Antiques, the hospital gift shop and several other Northern California locations.

Soon Shannon plans to open a retail outlet in Cedar Ridge.

The eggs from their 85 truly free-roaming chickens sell out each week.

"Most people don't understand that a chicken that has a pasture where it can eat bugs, weeds, and roam in dirt produces eggs that are lower in cholesterol and richer in vitamins A, E, B12 and omega 3 fatty acids," she said.

If all this is not enough to do in retirement, Shannon also conducts farm tours for school kids and hosts "farm birthday parties."

And she recently became president of Nevada County Grown, the marketing support network for local farmers.

Her husband, Steve, refurbishes old cars.

If you need more information about Nightingale Farms, they can be reached at 530-273-GOAT or

Here is a perfect recipe for the next time you want to experiment with a little goat meat for dinner.

Pecan Crusted Goat Chops

Six 1-inch-thick goat chops

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 half cup crushed crackers

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine pecans, crackers, garlic salt, flour and pepper in a broad bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and eggs.

Dip the goat chops in the milk/egg mixture; then press them into the pecan and cracker mix, coat thoroughly.

Pour the oil into a large skillet and place over medium flame.

When oil is hot, gently place the chops in the skillet.

Let them brown thoroughly on one side, then turn and cook the other side.

Cook for a total of about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with cinnamon applesauce.

Patti Bess is a local freelance writer, author and cooking teacher. For any questions or comments, contact her at

Mounting Evidence

• In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.

• A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.

• A 1999 study at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.

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