Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

October 19, 2022
The Minis

Erda couple raises one of natures funniest creatures 

Proud parents of 10 miniature goats, Mason and Rebecca Lewis never experience a dull moment on their farm, “Mini Herd of Erda.”

The couple first talked about goats nearly 20 years ago while they were dating.

“When my husband and I were dating, we went to a winery and saw these fainting goats there,” Rebecca Lewis said. “I was laughing and I was like, ‘When we get married, we will have 10 acres and fainting goats.’ Seventeen years later we were finally able to get our goats.”

The couple purchased their first goat in 2020 and from there, their goat family grew. They now own five short haired fainting goats as pets.

“The fainting thing is kind of like when someone jumps at you and you freeze,” Mason Lewis said. “It’s that kind of reaction. It’s a genetic mutation and they started breeding these goats to have that.”

Often the goats faint when they are startled by other goats in their herd.

“If two goats both jump up onto something, they will faint, but they aren’t scared or frightened of me,” Rebecca Lewis said. “They will also faint if the neighbors put off fireworks. They don’t faint as much as some people think.”

The original purpose of fainting goats was to keep herds of sheep safe.

“Back in the day, they would have these fainting goats in with the sheep and when a predator would come, the sheep would run away and the goat would faint and get eaten,” Rebecca Lewis explained.

Fainting goats aren’t usually milked but they are used for meat in some cultures.

The Lewises goats are strictly pets, though.

“The goats are so friendly,” Rebecca Lewis said. “They come when they’re called. They are all so different.”

“They are really inquisitive,” Mason Lewis added.

Along with their five fainting goats, the family owns five “Silkies,” three females and two males, which are also fainting goats.

Silkies are a cross between a long-haired Tennessee Fainter and Nigerian Dwarf goat first bred in the 1990’s to create their signature wispy bangs and long hair that ranges in colors from white to black and everything in between.

Because of their long hair, Silkies have to be brushed often.

The couple often enters two of their Silkies in the Rocky Mountain Miniature Silkie Goat Show held in Tremonton each year.

“They have different categories,” Rebecca Lewis explained, talking about the show. “There is a certain height and texture they are looking for. It’s kind of like a dog show where you walk them around an arena and they judge you on showmanship.”

To get the Silkies ready for the show, some owners straighten their hair with hair straighteners and use expensive soaps and conditioners on their coats.

At their next competition, Rebecca Lewis plans to straighten her goat’s hair.

“Whatever it takes to get them that long, silkie look,” Mason Lewis joked.

Last summer their Silkie, Jolene, won first place in her age group and ultimately also won grand champion.

Often Rebecca Lewis, who works at Rocky Mountain Care, brings her goats to show the residents.

“At work I’m totally known as the goat lady,” she said. “I’ll sit there and show pictures of my goats and bring them into work…I talk about my goats all the time. The residents don’t know me by my name, just as the goat lady.”

The Lewises also breed goats on their farm.

Goats have a five-month gestation period, so if they are bred at the end of this month, one to three babies will be born by April 2023. The couple will put them in their goat nursery — a barn consisting of comfy places for the mother and babies to lay, along with Dr. Suess themed decorations.

After about eight weeks, they will be able to sell the babies for $250 to $500.

It’s not uncommon for well-known breeders to sell babies for $800 to $1,000.

The couple plans to keep their herd of goats at 10 or less.

“Right now, we are at our limit but I would like to have a whole herd of little, black goats,” Rebecca Lewis joked.

Raising goats is enjoyable.

“Raising goats is the greatest of all times,” Rebecca Lewis said. “When I’m sitting down, our little brown one, Heidi, will throw her head on my lap and fall asleep and we will just sit in the sun and I’ll pet my goat.”

“The goats aren’t a lot of work to keep,” Mason Lewis said. “They’re easy to take care of.”

The biggest challenge of owning goats has been fencing, according to Mason Lewis.

“There’s a learning curve with fencing,” he said. “The male goats get really feisty and they will go at the fences.”

The goats also nibble on anything left in their pen.

 

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