Driving through the Duck Mountains, you’d expect to see deer, elk, maybe the odd moose, but Nubian goats? Not so much. Still, this is Manitoba, land of the unexpected, and Nubian goats it is, raised by the Lange family out of the UK by way of Scotland for nine years now.
“We wanted to expand our 32-acre operation,” says Wendy Lange, mother of the family of five, who raised sheep in the UK, “and New Zealand was just too expensive.” So they started thinking of Canada. Then one day they saw an ad for a thousand-acre farm for sale – the very farm they own now – in Manitoba near San Clara just west of Duck Mountain Provincial Park and a half hour north of Roblin. It’s an idyllic setting on the Shell River.
They started out to raise sheep, but there was one goat in the crowd. That was just the beginning. Soon there were three goats, then more and more as goats are very, well, uh. . . goatish, and their eager habits soon overshadowed the sheep. Nubian goats also have the advantage of being extremely handsome and lovable, with their long floppy years and smooth hair, plus there is a good market for goat meat, which the Langes can access at Yorkton for sale all over Canada. The meat, once processed, is called chevron. They also sell live animals.
Wendy says her daughter Rebecca, a children’s special needs care worker by trade, is the goat expert. Her special training comes in handy in dealing with the new “kids” in the family. That family now numbers about 80, although it has been as high as 100 in the past. Husband Werner is a builder in stone and brick masonry, but don’t expect to see quaint British-style stone fences on the goat farm – they use the much more portable electric fence to keep the kids corralled and out of the hay pastures where their 70-head herd of certified organic cattle gaze. They also keep a few pigs and chickens.
“The goats are very much about browsing,” says Wendy. “They can clear an area in no time.” They love browsing the leaves and twigs from small shrubs and even trees. That’s what happened to her cherry tree, she figures, although she’s had no luck growing apples either and even the Saskatoons are stubborn in the valley where they live. “But my raspberries are doing fine,” she says, perking up. Wendy is a gardener and recently got her fruit and vegetable growing certificate through the continuing education courses at Assiniboine College. She’s been growing annuals, but now she’s ready to try her hand with some perennials.
In addition to raising the Nubian goats for meat and breeding purposes, the Langes also make goats’ milk soap andother body products, all completely organically. Daughter Rebecca won’t hear of using palm oil for environmental reasons and uses only essentials oils from lavender and rose to scent the soaps.
The farm is on the Shell R iver and Wendy, a glass carver, also makes lovely jewellery from the oyster and clam shells from the river. These and the goat’s milk products are for sale in their small gift shop. They are also on the Internet at www.goatpackgetaways.com.
The home is called Brambles Nubian Goat Farm and they offer an extra special treat: an opportunity to stay in an authentic Gypsy caravan far from the madding crowds of busy city life. The caravan has the important conveniences. It’s like camping out without the discomfort of a tent.
While there you can spend the day strolling though the lovely surrounding countryside or take guided treks, complete with a lunch-packing goat to do the heavy lifting, leaving hands free forthe camera or to stop and examine the local flora.
But if you’d like your chance to visit the caravan, you’d better act now. The Langes only allow two adults at a time in the caravan and two more if they wish to bring a tent, thus preserving the peace and tranquillity of this lovely place. Price? It’s a real bargain this year at just $50 a night.