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Urban goats for organic raw milk in a San Francisco backyard

June 18, 2013

Heidi Kooy lives in a fairly dense part of San Francisco- her row house touches her neighbors’- with just 1000 square feet of backyard, but she manages to squeeze in an organic garden, fruit trees, chickens and, most recently, a pair of goats.

When she began her experiment in urban farming, the goats were really an afterthought. “I was obsessed with having a chicken for awhile… and so I told my husband we were going to get chickens and he said ‘Ew, chickens smell. I want a goat’.”

Kooy did some research and found a San Francisco Health Department clause that allows for “two female goats for family purposes”. Two years ago she bought two Nigerian dwarf goats and today, they provide anywhere from 1 to 3 quarts of milk per day for her family (drunk as raw milk and used to make cheese).

She loves her fresh goats’ milk, but Kooy admits the price is steep. The goats themselves usually cost about $500-600 each. Then there are the vet bills and stud services (to keep them lactating). And then you need to milk them twice a day, every day.

Kooy’s goats have also cost her money in damage to her yard and house. And besides the daily milkings, she takes them a mile away (often by car) to a nearby park to exercise.

“The amount of work that I put into this, it’s much easier for me to go get some silly job and go over to the big name box store across the street from me. It’s a much better deal for me to go over there and buy my cheese for $5, for a brick, rather than spending 2 days making cheese from my own goats milk that I had to milk the goats 4 times to get enough milk to produce it. It doesn’t make any kind of sense on any level except that I now know what goes into it and i appreciate where my food comes from a lot more and I appreciate what farmers do.”

In this video we visit Kooy at her Excelsior District home in time for her morning milking.

Video courtesy of kirstendirksen

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