255: Gianaclis Caldwell on Holistic Goat Care.

Considering the whole picture of raising goats and their benefits.

In addition to actively managing their dairy goats, Gianaclis is the main cheesemaker, milker and owner of Pholia Farm, a licensed dairy located on 24 acres she grew up on in southern Oregon. Her farm is well known for its artisan, aged raw milk cheeses; classes on small-dairy, goat husbandry, and cheesemaking at all levels; and its off-grid, sustainable life-style focus.

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She is the author of many books including Holistic Goat Care, Mastering Basic Cheesemaking, The Small-Scale Cheese Business, and often writes and photographs for Culture – The Word on Cheese magazine. Gianaclis and her husband Vern own and run Pholia, where they are raising their daughters Phoebe and Amelia.  

In This Podcast:

Raising goats in a holistic and nurturing manner is second nature to Gianaclis Caldwell.  She shares with us some uplifting and useful advice on caring for these unique farm animals, including the three most important things to know about them. She also tells how she and her husband started their dairy farm from scratch and off-the-grid, raised their family, and now they host guests who get to know the intricacies of goat farming. This is a great resource for anyone considering raising goats.

Listen in and learn about:

  • Moving back to 24 acres from her childhood and starting anew off-the-grid
  • How they named the farm
  • Starting a goat dairy
  • Artisan cheese and being in the beginning of a new revival
  • Getting started in her writing
  • Raising goats as organic as possible
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Living off-the-grid in a high-tech manner
  • Making choices for appliances and building design based on being off the grid
  • How she decided the format and what should be included in her goats
  • A light history on goats
  • Keeping the goats in an unfenced pasture
  • How the goats follow someone they trust when hiking
  • FarmStay at Pholia thru Airbnb (Rogue River, Eco FarmStay)
Producer’s note: Here is the link to Scottie Jones’ Podcast
  • Classes on butchering even though she is a vegetarian
  • Why to get pairs
  • What to consider when getting a buck goat
  • Goat babies that come in litters
  • Her herd now that her kids are grown
  • Goats are herd animals
  • Housing and shelter considerations – especially in wet climates
  • Diet considerations and mineral needs

As well as:

  • Her failure – losing an animal is part of the life on a goat farm
  • Her success – going forward through failures, and being able to raise their daughters on the farm from an early enough age to cherish life
  • Her drive – her sense of mortality and realizing life is short
  • Her advice – Don’t expect to learn everything to start, expect to keep learning

Books written by Gianaclis:

Holistic Goat Care: A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Healthy Animals, Preventing Common Ailments, and Troubleshooting Problems

Mastering Basic Cheesemaking: The Fun and Fundamentals of Making Cheese at Home

Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producers

The Small-Scale Dairy: The Complete Guide to Milk Production for the Home and Market

The Small-Scale Cheese Business: The Complete Guide to Running a Successful Farmstead Creamery

Gianaclis’s Book recommendations:        

Heidi (Puffin in Bloom) by Johanna Spyri

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

How to reach Gianaclis:     




Producer’s note: Here is Gianaclis’s next podcast on Basic Cheese Making


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  1. I am currently listening to the podcast on the goats & I have to add “my” correction to the number of kids that goats have. Not every breed of goat will or can have 5-6 kids at a time. The average number of kids that most breeds have are 3. I raise Nubians, Alpines, Boer Crosses, Toggenburg’s & I had mix of a mini of some breed & the most they have had was 3 & that was usually my mini alpine/boer cross & my Nubian/boer cross. It is interesting to hear that she has had 5-6 kids at a time. And she also mentioned tying out goat’s as its always a bad thing. Where I live we have predators & we usually tie our goats out along the road to eat off the borrow pit & at one time had them tied in the yard individually & we haven’t had issues from doing so.
    Tying goat’s out & getting them use to it being near a road, traffic, etc. helps them to know how to behave & handle, plus it helps to find them homes where people just want weed eaters & nothing to milk, so that helps to be able to sell them & find homes for. But you can’t guarantee that they’ll stay in the home that they first go to or won’t stay off of craig’s list.
    I actually prefer to sell them off of craig’s list because then that gives the goat’s the opportunity to stay calm & relaxed by staying at their home until they are sold. Where as taking them to the auction, you have the stress of loading them up into a trailer, the ride, getting to the auction & exposing them to a brand new environment, noise, more aggressive goats, people that are in a hurry to get the animals to another area, and so much more. Plus, you can get more money (usually) if you sell them privately.
    The other thing she mentioned that I need to sort of counter, is that not all goat’s can be milked for years just by milking them, again, not all breeds do that & not all goat’s within that breed can…some do. My goat’s are on the “nope, not gonna happen” side of the spectrum. They’re milk supply naturally drops by the time the kids would be 8 mos old with me milking them twice a day & they won’t produce anymore after that w/o having a kid. I would be nice to have the milk for longer without always breeding. I have a friend who had a French Alpine that did milk for a longer time without being preg. but it didn’t last for years.
    I can’t wait for the cheese podcast as that’s my next adventure for my goat milk :o) I’ve made butter & ice cream so far…..so much more options for it.

  2. Hi Alli,
    Thanks for your comments!
    I’m sorry I didn’t make it more clear that goats can have up to 5 or 6 kids, but that in most breeds, it is rare. Usually Nubians and Nigerians are the most prolific, with Angora’s being known mostly for singles. Of course fertility varies depending not only on breed, but on nutrition and family tendency, just like with people. Our herd average here, with La Manchas and Nigerians over 15 years is 2.6 per doe. This last year we had many singles because I only had two bucks to service 15 does. That reduced his fertility.
    I also meant to make it clear that a good goat with what we often call “a strong will to milk” is the one that can be milked for years. I have some Nigerians that will do it and some that won’t. I usually don’t keep the ones that i know won’t, since I’m trying to breed for that “will to milk”.
    I agree with it being much better to not send the poor animals to auction, very stressful!
    I hope you enjoy the cheesemaking talk!
    Best, Gianaclis

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