Saturday, February 27, 2021

Happy Daze goat farm comes to life

Mineral Independent | February 10, 2021 12:00 AM

Out on 12 very steep and forested acres near DeBorgia, Happy Daze Goat Farm is beginning to come to life. Owners Heather and Mark Ewert along with their children, Lexi and LeRoi are enjoying the beauty and solitude of rural Western Montana while also cultivating their very own family run goat business.

Mark and Heather were raised in the Flathead Valley. Heather said, “We moved to DeBorgia about five years ago, because the population of the Flathead Valley was just going crazy and we wanted to be somewhere with less people. It's been nice down here. We enjoy the small-town life so we looked for a place that was going to stay small for a bit.”

Mark is a drywaller and Heather is a birth/postpartum Doula, but as most can attest 2020 left them lots of room in their schedules. Heather stated, “I am not super busy right now so I thought I would jump into farming with my spare time.”

The couple never had much experience around farm animals growing up but that didn’t stop them giving the lifestyle a try. While still living in the Flathead, Heather explained, “About 12 years ago we got chickens while we still lived in town and had to fight the urge to get goats in our little backyard.”

After relocating to a larger space up north they had a total of 11 goats before they decided to sell them and wait for their young family to get established.

Heather explained, “So when we were finally settled in here in DeBorgia I was planning to add goats this spring after we got everything set up. But we ended up with three goats in October and decided to take that as a sign that we were on the right track of starting our farm. Everything was lining up for us.”

The Ewerts quickly learned how popular it is around Mineral County and other parts of the region to use goats for vegetation management, particularly noxious weeds.

Heather said “I didn't originally think that it would be a farm but I wanted to have goats again and I noticed everybody wanted to have goats as weed eaters and I thought I would look into renting them out as weed eaters.” She added “A lot of people don't like to use the toxic weed sprays anymore and goats are a perfect alternative. They eat the weeds. Also, the seeds of the weeds don't make it through their stomach to come out in their poop. So, they are not spreading weeds at all but still getting rid of them. People like to use goats in places that are too close to water or too steep to get equipment in.”

Right now, Happy Daze Goat Farm is home to seven different goats: Susan, Sweet pea, Tiny, Charles cotton, Joseph, Butch, and Otis. Once they have more fencing and arrangements in place, they hope to have 15 goats altogether. Heather said, “We have three more coming for sure this spring when we get a better set up going.”

Over the years Heather has noticed, “Goats definitely have different personalities. They are a lot like dogs. Goats love to climb on things, they love to eat everything they are not supposed to, they’re a lot like toddlers!”

She also chuckled, “They are born escape artists. And did I mention that they love to eat flowers and gardens. Our goat Charles cotton loves to eat clothes, he will just eat a hole in your shirt while you are trying to do something else if you are not paying attention!”

For the most part these cute yet goofy looking creatures are very lovable. “It all kind of depends on how they were raised, if they don't get much interaction with humans, they tend to be kind of wary of people. I think goats are so popular because you can keep them as livestock or just as pets. There is just something special about goats.” Heather exclaimed.

A day on the farm for the Ewert family includes extra feeding duties during the winter months. Heather mentioned, “In the summer they will just browse our property, we will have them in portable electric fences because there are lots of predators here and I want to keep them safe.”

An additional safety measure that most goat owners employ is the practice of having a guardian dog that keep predators away. She said, “Some people do just let them roam but we have neighbors that might not appreciate it.”

Happy Daze Goat Farm doesn’t just have goats however, they have chickens, quail, dogs, cats, and soon they’ll have ducks running around as well. Heather shared, “I love having animals because they are fun and they give to us and help us live a more sustainable lifestyle. We get compost from the goats and chickens for our gardens. We get eggs from the chickens and quail. We get milk and companionship from the goats. There is not a lot more to ask for. I am also so thankful that I get to raise my kids this way, and that they get to know where most of their food comes from.”

One day the Ewerts might pursue allowing tours and visitors to their goat farm. Heather said, “I would love to share the goats with the world. We do plan to make a farm and veggie stand eventually, either at the property or somewhere close by. But I mean a small petting zoo would be awesome though.”

In the meantime, Heather is experimenting with the extra goat milk they have on hand and making it into body products like soap, lotion, and body butters.

Her husband Mark also wants to train a few of the goats to be pack goats. But their biggest priority this spring will be to get the farm layout just right and everything running smoothly.

She detailed, “I just am trying to focus right now on getting our place better set up for the farming and working to get the equipment and stuff we need to start renting the goats. We may have different plans next year but for now we are just rolling with the punches.” Which isn’t all that bad when you get to work with goats every day.

That’s how the farm’s moniker came to be. Heather expressed, “We got the name "Happy Daze Goat Farm" because we said that having goats has given us happier days.”

To learn more about the farm or goat rental information check out the Happy Daze Goat Farm page on Facebook or Heather can be reached at 406-871-7340. The Ewerts plan on having goats available to rent out by this spring.