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Beit Izim, The Goat Co-Op

 

Beit Izim, or “the goat co-op,” collectively owns, milks, and cares for a handful of goats that live at Milk and Honey Farm. Member households come to the farm on a regular basis to do the goat chores and milk the goats. Members take home milk from their shift. Members in the co-op train each other and make decisions together about goat care. 

The co-op offers the opportunity to:

  • connect with the earth and the origins of food
  • obtain and consume sustainable, healthy food
  • learn about and embody Jewish values through participatory animal husbandry (and everyone is welcome!)

There are often openings in the co-op. If you are interested in getting involved, please read more information below and then contact our Goat Co-Op Team.

FAQs about Beit Izim

What is the commitment?

When people join Beit Izim, they commit to taking on a regular “shift” either every week or every other week. Morning shifts normally happen between 7 and 9 AM and evening shifts happen between 5:30 and 8 PM. Shifts normally take people between 75 and 120 minutes, depending on the season and how many active adults participate.

In addition to the shift responsibilities, we also have quarterly meetings to attend. During these meetings, we discuss goat care and group needs.  We also have periodic chore responsibilities we expect people to volunteer for, like hay hauling and stacking, grain bin filling, fence maintenance, and supplies pick up.

We expect people to commit for at least a year. We also expect members to sub for shifts that are open or when another member needs to miss their shift. We all need a sub sometimes!

What work is involved in a goat shift?

The evening shift involves (but is not limited to) picking up leftover veggies at Natural Grocers, sorting them for the goats to eat, milking the goats, making sure they have clean water, feeding them hay/alfalfa, putting them in the barn/domes to sleep, and cleaning the milking parlor and barn. 

The morning shift involves (but is not limited to) sorting veggies, milking the goats, feeding them grass or alfalfa hay, making sure they have clean water, letting them into the correct paddock/pasture, replenishing hay bales in paddocks, spot cleaning the stalls, taking compost out, and cleaning the milking parlor and barn. 

How many goats do we milk and take care of?

We normally milk between 2 and 4 goats, depending on the season and breeding decisions. The whole herd is normally between 7-9 adult goats. We care for more goats than the ones currently in milk, as they help manage the weeds around the Boulder Jewish Commons. 

Does joining Beit Izim cost money?

Yes. There is a one-time joining fee of $72 and yearly membership dues. This money is used to cover the hard costs of taking care of the goats, like their food, vet care, and bedding supplies. Dues for 2022 are $360 for a full shift. 

We also have a limited number of work/trade shifts to reduce or eliminate the yearly membership dues. The work involves deep cleaning the goat stalls.

Do I need to have prior experience?

No! You do not need to have milked goats before or even been around farm livestock (though it helps). We train you in goat milking and goat management. 

Can I do the shift by myself? Can I do the shift with young children? Can I do the shift if I’m not sure I can lift a hay bale?

Yes, Yes, and Yes! All types of people and households are members of the goat co-op. We have members who are approaching their 80s and members who bring their preschoolers. We have adults who come by themselves and adults who come with a shift partner. Sometimes we are even able to match you with someone. Everyone is different and comes with their own strengths to the group. If you are committed to the goats and the group, we try to make it work.

OK, I’m definitely interested, what’s next?

Contact our Goat Co-Op Team. A goat co-op member will be in touch with you about the next steps. We will set you up with an observation shift to observe a current members’ shift to get a first-hand experience of what a shift is like. If it seems like a good fit and there is a shift available that fits your schedule, we will train you to milk and manage the goats. If there isn’t a shift available, we will add you to our waitlist. Co-op members, not JCC staff, are in charge of membership and training of new members.