A day on the farm: Nevada County’s Nightingale Farms
Special Sections Editor
If you have ever wondered what a day in the life of a farmer is like, the Baby Goat Experience is a must-do.
Charming and incredibly family-friendly, this tour set up by Outlandish Experience takes place from 8:30-10:30 a.m. (nearly) every Saturday at Nightingale Farms in Chicago Park. Spending the morning helping farmers Shannon Friedberg and Steve Nightingale with their morning chores is a lot more fun than it sounds.
The adventure begins in the milking parlor, where the does are brought in two to three at a time. Shannon and Steve introduce you to each goat by her name and tell you a little something about each one’s personality. They then demonstrate how they attach the milking machines and you get to try it the old fashioned way by hand milking a goat yourself if you wish to. Try racing the machine (but don’t expect to win) as you perfect your technique. Steve and Shannon walk you step by step through the procedures and the processes that they use to ensure that the goats and their milk remain healthy.
These are obviously well-loved animals that are a part of the family. While they are being milked, Steve brings in a dish of almond hulls for guests to feed the goats. He says these treats are like candy to them. The high-fiber content makes the milk fattier, which is desirable for making the soaps and lotions that the farm is well known for. He proudly brags about his four-legged, prize-winning children. He’s happy to announce that on their farm they have three permanent champions, which means these goats have won three championships in their class, along with another distinctive goat achievement among the herd.
“Once a month an inspector comes to check the milk production, and Zola was the number one producer in her breed in the nation,” Steve said while patting Zola.
After the milking, you visit the baby goats and get to bottle feed and cuddle them to your heart’s content. Shannon said they are still in the process of naming the brand new babies, one just five days old, and that each year the goats are named after a theme from the letter that is tattooed in their ear for permanent identification. They have had many different themes, such as jazz songs, gods and goddesses, colors, and more. This year’s theme is love.
From the babies, you move on to feed the bigger kids (goat kids, that is) and then join them in the big pasture where they frolic and play. You can run through the tall grass with them or let them climb all over you, or just watch from a distance if you don’t want to get hands on. From there, you can tour the goat milk lotion and soap production facility, and if you wish to you can purchase some soap or lotion.
Shannon says that each tour is different depending on the interests of people involved. The majority of the people who come to the tours are from out of town, but Shannon and Steve love to show locals around, as well. Shannon says that some people are doing the tour because they are thinking of getting goats and want to see what is really involved, some just want to play with the baby goats, and others have a general interest in what life on a real farm is like.
“Every time I give a tour, I love it,” Shannon said. “It’s just so life affirming to share this with other people because there’s so many people that are awed by it. Sometimes your day to day feels pretty mundane, but when you share it with others you think to yourself, ‘Yeah, this is pretty cool.’”
About Nightingale Farms
Shannon Friedberg and Steve Nightingale started their small family farm in 2006. They raise quality Oberhasli dairy goats, a hearty Swiss breed, for milk and show. They often have goats for sale for family milkers, brushers, and pets as well as competitive show animals. In 2018, their Oberhasli goat Fascina won California State Fair Golden Grand Champion.
All of the farm animals are treated with respect and care. They have access to the finest natural diet free from hormones and unnecessary medications. They are vaccinated against prevalent diseases and receive veterinary care when appropriate.
Nightingale Farms breeds award-winning Oberhasli dairy goats and creates wonderful soaps and lotions with the milk. The goats are beautiful, curious and enjoy interacting with visitors.
Before You Go
This experience welcomes people of all ages; however, children must be accompanied by a paid adult. The total capacity of each tour is eight people.
Water is provided. Please don’t bring food for the goats. Shannon and Steve will provide snacks for you to feed them.
Bring a camera and a sense of humor, and don’t wear clothes that you don’t want to get dirty. Also wear closed-toed shoes and avoid clothing with tassels and strings. Goats find them irresistible.
Valerie Costa is special sections editor at The Union. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4237.
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