Up goat and personal

Southside Road couple get milk, happiness and friends from pair of goats

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on February 1, 2014

It’s not every day you see a pair of goats being walked through the streets of downtown St. John’s.

But then again, it’s not every day you meet a couple quite like Steve and Lisa McBride.

The Vancouver natives moved to Newfoundland for its affordability. They bought a house on Southside Road. But it was actually the increasing cost of food that made them consider getting a goat.

“It started last year around this time, I think. The price of milk went up by 50 cents,” says Steve.

Gone to the goats

As kind of a joke, they started talking about getting a goat. That joke soon became a reality when they began to research the idea and learned that goats are actually comparable in personality to the king of family companions, dogs.

Intrigued, the couple started goat shopping.

A pair of goats was brought to their door for a mere $300.

They may have been bought for their milk, but this pair of goats knows how to milk a camera shoot for all it’s worth.

The pair know their names, are leash trained, will give a hoof if asked for one and will even stand up on their hind hooves.

And yes, one of them is currently producing milk.

A litre a day, actually, extracted with a hand pump attached to a mason jar.

Steve and Lisa have never owned any livestock. The first time they tried to milk their goat — that time by hand — it was not quite as productive.

“We squat down there. We got a table spoon and we’re both like sluuuuurrrrp. Sharing it,” Lisa says, laughing.

The milk can be enjoyed right out of the goat or it can be heated on the stove to pasteurize.

The couple also makes cheese and yogurt.

“Fresh milk compared to store-bought milk is amazing,” says Steve. “Some people say (goat’s milk) has a slightly stronger taste.”

The goats live in a shelter up a steep hill in the couple’s backyard. City bylaws allow them to live within St. John’s limits and an inspector has been by to make sure the animals are being cared for properly.

Self-sufficient

Steve and Lisa have been learning a lot about being self-sufficient. The goats are only part of the story. There are also domestic ducks in their backyard for eggs. They grow their own vegetables and they even have maple trees tapped along Southside Road to make their own syrup.

But Goldie and Maple steal this show, especially when they join Steve and Lisa on a walk about the city, including the bustling streets of downtown.

“Sometimes we stop traffic,” says Lisa. “I don’t think you can meet a single person that doesn’t smile. Everybody loves goats.”

The goats even join the pair on 20-kilometre hikes on the East Coast Trail, where the leashes are put away and the goats follow along like any well-trained dog.

They eat pretty well anything — grass, table scraps and even the remnants of a Christmas tree alongside the house.

Steve and Lisa aren’t sure what they’ll try next in their oath of becoming more self-sufficient. But they say having goats in the city has brought the community together. They know all their neighbours and every walk involves making new friends.

All thanks to Goldie and Maple.

To see the Facebook page, look up “Goldie & Maple, the Southside Goats.”

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com