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“Yup, I hear banjos,” I said to my dog while driving over the bumpy dirt road to Goat House Farm. This was my first destination of a long overdue vacation. In the host’s driving directions, she specifically instructed to “ignore the banjos along the way, it gets better when you get to the lake. I promise!”
Seeing the sign reading “Goat Lover St.,” the banjo twang faded away and I knew I reached my destination.
Following instructions, I messaged my HipCamp host with an estimated time of arrival, so she was waiting for me when I pulled in. She gave me a quick property tour, including compost toilet etiquette and rules for entering the goat yard. The yard divides into smaller pens to keep bucks (males) separate from the does (females).
Once I was alone to unpack my car and settle in my cabin, I exhaled a sigh of relief. Immediately, I felt the farm’s positive, relaxing, and happy vibe. After a nearly six-hour drive, the weight and tension I carried since Hurricane Ian’s unwelcome visit last September felt a whole lot lighter.
Glamping with HipCamp
By now, friends and colleagues know when I plan a vacation, it looks different from theirs. For this getaway, I had a strong desire and need to connect with nature. My goal was to rejuvenate my soul by mentally decompressing, relaxing, and living in the moment.
HipCamp is my go-to resource for finding and booking unique outdoor accommodations. They offer primitive camping spots to RV-friendly sites and glamping, “glamorous camping,” options, which is my preference.
I enjoy tent camping but why not step it up with glamping? It offers a nice in-between sleeping option. It’s not as primitive as tent camping and some glamping options offer similar amenities found at hotels and resorts, but with an outdoor connection. Some glamping accommodations can cost as much or more than a hotel and others are budget friendly.
Why Glamping with Goats?
I booked Goat House Farm for a variety of reasons.
- It’s a goat farm with sleeping accommodations.
- I have friends in Tallahassee.
- The farm offers dog-friendly accommodations.
- It’s budget friendly.
- Did I mention goats?
Giggling with Goats
When I entered the yard, friendly and curious goats warmly welcomed me. I was warned they tend to invade your personal space. Sitting on a log, few quickly greeted me with nuzzles while leaning against me. Some tried nibbling my ears, hat, shirt and whatever else looked edible. It was such a joyful moment, and I couldn’t help giggling and smiling until my cheeks hurt. A big white dog named Monster looks over the herd, a pig named Houdini leisurely lounges in the yard, and chickens and cats casually roam in and out.
Learning All About Goats
The next morning, I met Melissa, owner of Goat House Farm, for an hour-long “All About Goats” class. She purchased the farm with its handful of goats in 2015 when she began working on her PhD. She intended to sell it once she finished her degree. Seven years later and a PhD in hand, she’s still here with a herd of more than 40 goats.
The farm is a non-profit organization and Melissa opens it to students of all ages interested in goats. She works with the local 4-H club educating students about dairy goats and helping others looking to care for their own herd. For the public, goat yoga is offered on select Saturdays and farm visitation is by appointment.
As we walked through the yard, she introduced me to some of the residents. The yard is full of different items for them to climb and entertain themselves. I watched as one tried climbing atop what looks like a plastic igloo while others climbed plastic playsets commonly found in a family’s backyard. There’s two round swings and a trampoline for the residents to romp and play and feeding troughs for leisurely lounging.
Guests of Goat House Farm can spend as much time as they want with the goats and I spent as much time as I could. Dogs aren’t permitted in the pen so mine chilled in the cabin.
Before she milked the last nanny, I watched Melissa manage the herd, as much as goats obey direction. Somehow, a few bucks found their way into the doe pen and with the help of a volunteer, she worked to corral the males back into their area.
In the milk room, the nanny jumped on a platform and placed her head between two wood slats which Melissa secured. This keeps the nanny in place during milking. Then, she sanitized the teats followed by wrapping her hand around a teat and taking two squirts, capturing milk in a glass jar. She quickly grabbed the other teat for another two squirts. Milking cups were affixed on each teat and Melissa turned on the milking machine. In no time, milking was complete.
Before each goat returns to the yard, a spray is applied to each teat to cleanse and prevent infection. The final step in the milking process is the sweetest. Melissa hugs and expresses gratitude to each nanny.
Playing at Goat House Farm
One of the reasons I felt connected with the farm is its location in Lake Talquin State Forest. Because of this, much of the area is in its natural state, meaning, it doesn’t have a manicured lawn or pruned bushes and shrubs. It’s the opposite. Lush native foliage grows in its natural beauty. Blackberries burst off bushes and butterflies, bees and other pollinators dance from wildflower to wildflower.
My dog and I navigated the narrow trail through the trees down to the lake twice. Kayaks are available for guests but there wasn’t time for a paddle. Seeing and hearing the lake’s lapping waves was soothing enough.
Sleeping at Goat House Farm
Goat House Farm offers two small cabins along with glamping tents and tents and RV camping sites. The cabins are dog-friendly while the camping options aren’t. I originally booked a stay at the farm for last Thanksgiving, but COVID-19 finally caught up with me. Sadly, I had to cancel my plans and I vowed to eventually visit.
The cabin I stayed is called The Coop and as it implies, it looks like a clean, chic chicken coop. Accommodations are simple, yet comfortable. There’s a comfy double bed with linens, a small desk with stool, and window air conditioning unit. It’s cute and cozy with a poultry theme. I chuckled at one of the books on the desk called “Cluck: The First Book Written Entirely by an Animal Based Artificial Intelligence” by Chicken X (Dr. Kurt Alexander). Basically, every word, except for the Introduction is “cluck.” LOL!
At night, the outdoor symphony of insects accompanied by frogs and hoots from the occasional owl lulled me to sleep. The next morning, I awoke refreshed and relaxed. A sensation I haven’t felt in months.
The Common Areas
The bathhouse was a few steps away inside the fenced-in common area. It’s shared by all camping at the farm and has a compostable toilet and shower which uses a galvanized steel water trough as the base. Outside is a sink. Plush towels are provided, although I brought my own.
The outdoor common area is spacious for my dog to run around and it’s the site of a fire pit, propane grills, and sitting areas. Farm cats and fowl strut in this area and the felines are friendly.
The indoor common area is here, too. I didn’t spend much time in it but it’s a great place to meet other campers. It’s also where fresh-baked biscuits with creamy honey butter and homemade goat milk fudge are picked up, when ordered in advance. Note – go ahead and order these items in advance! You can order chocolate chips, too, but I chose fudge over cookies. Yum!
Plan Your Visit
My two-night stay was too short but glamping at Goat House Farm was exactly what my soul needed. Growing up, my family briefly had goats, and although I cared about them, I didn’t appreciate them. I can’t return to my childhood, but this stay allowed me to embrace my inner child and enjoy pure, innocent joy. It’s something I’ve been missing for months and I’m grateful for finding it in a goat herd.
Goat House Farm
17870 Larkin Ct W.
Tallahassee, FL 32310
Find Goat House Farm and other cool glamping spots on HipCamp.
Crazy about goats? I found these fun items on Amazon including the book, “The Story of a Goat.” I purchased it at the farm and wish I read it before visiting. I won’t spoil the story but, on the surface, you’ll have a stronger appreciation for goats. The story revolves around a black goat named Poonachi. There happens to be a beautiful black goat with the same name at Goat House Farm.