Meet the Maine Teenager-Turned-Landscaper Thanks to Grazing Goats

Anna Zlotkowski has discovered an uncommon–however becoming–afterschool job. Together with ending her final two years of highschool and enjoying on the basketball staff, the 17-year-old has a deep ardour for animals. So, reasonably than stroll canine or volunteer on the SPCA, she’s began her personal landscaping enterprise—utilizing rescued goats. 

Zlotkowski, who lives on Isleboro Island, off of Maine’s midcoast, spent her summer time serving to her mother Kimberly and sister Gaby promote oysters on the native farmers market. It was there that they  met one other vendor promoting home made goat cheese. A fast style and the household grew to become obsessive about the cheese.

“I used to be like, ‘Mother, let’s get some goats so we are able to have some goat cheese,”” says Zlotkowski.  Understandably, her mother wasn’t solely bought on the thought, nevertheless it occurred that Kimberly was seeking to clear some land. Zlotkowski noticed her opening.

Goats eat numerous vegetation that different livestock received’t contact, together with invasive crops akin to multiflora rose, sumac, barberry and extra. They’re additionally capable of entry brushy areas which might be inaccessible to some bigger tools, they usually naturally fertilize whereas they work.  Zlotkowski dove into the analysis on goats, every thing from how you can trim goat hooves to the nutritional vitamins and dietary supplements they would wish. She pitched the thought to her mom: Why not get some goats to clear the land, and they might additionally profit from their milk and cheese? Kimberly received on board, and Grazy Goat Women was born. 

Peaches the goat. Images by @GrazyGoatGirls

Over the autumn, Zlotkowski acquired 5 goats, and she or he has been getting the animals acclimated to their new atmosphere. She has let the goats clear a few of her mother’s land, inspecting their progress and timing, to assist her deal with inquiries from individuals all through the area about clearing their properties in a protected and eco-friendly method.

“We’ve had fairly a number of individuals e-mail us and textual content us on Instagram questioning if [the goats] may come clear and when. Even individuals on different islands ask about having them come over,” says Zlotkowski.

Whereas she builds up the landscaping enterprise, Zlotkowski can be hoping to make goat cheese, her preliminary motivation for the venture. Of the 5 goats now of their herd, they believe one—they’ve named her Karen—is already pregnant. Zlotkowski hopes the upcoming being pregnant take a look at reveals a optimistic consequence. “Karen would give start on the finish of January, and I’m hoping I’ll be capable of milk her and attempt to make cheese.”

Despite the fact that there are solely 5 goats, they’re numerous work. Every day, relying on the climate, Zlotkowski will put the goats out of their pen, give them contemporary water and hay and test to ensure they’re all fortunately adjusting. Two of the goats are nonetheless infants and must be bottle-fed. The others want nutritional vitamins and different dietary supplements, together with hoof trims and different grooming.

With two years left of highschool, Zlotkowski is rising her burgeoning enterprise slowly, balancing the goats with seeing her mates and attending basketball follow. She desires to see how huge she will make Grazy Goat Women earlier than leaving for school. When she’s not there, Zlotkowski should discover somebody to take care of her goats, earlier than she will come again. “After faculty, I’m hoping I can come again and begin a farm,” says Zlotkowski.

Though Zlotkowski has embraced her new herd, her mother has been slower to regulate to the goats. “After we first received them, she was like ‘these aren’t my goats, I don’t like them,’ however now she loves bottle feeding the infants and simply loves them, however nonetheless doesn’t admit it,” says Zlotkowski.

Possibly her mother will even take over as caretaker when Zlotkowski is away in school. Till then, she’s completely happy to guide her herd by fields and pastures, keeping track of her goat-cheese-filled future.