Driggs family adds hiking, training to satisfaction with dairy goats
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Kim Driggs starts her day very differently from many people who work remotely at their home. She is employed as a government sub-contractor but at home, she also milks dairy goats. She predicted there would be 10 milk goats this season as she looked at her herd of recently born kids frolicking and eating with her does.
She had a few more expectant moms in the mix that would soon be making milk.
“I don’t mind,” she said of her early rising. “Milking goats is my happy place. It’s what I do.”
She grinned when she added that she uses a milking machine.
When COVID-19 arrived, the Driggs family, Kim and Mark with daughters Rouena, Sophina, Eleanor and Elspeth, found a new happy place with their goats. They trained a kid to pack their hiking gear and as the little animal grew, it led to a new revenue stream. The family now sells kids as pack goats and offers to begin the early training. The girls are members of the Scouts of America, formerly the Boy Scouts, and the family enjoys hiking. Their 4farthings farmhouse, next to Virginia Tech’s sprawling Kentland Farm, is relatively isolated and when the pandemic made them stay at home, they said the needs something to occupy time, energy and active minds.
They selected a young male, now a weather, and began training him to a halter as well as socializing him. He is now an adult goat and permanent part of the family’s hikes.
Mark, the quiet husband and father who described himself as “the Enabler,” appeared as Kim talked about the goat. He proved his nickname by introducing two daughters and a fully equipped pack goat on a lead line to the conversation.
Kim said choosing a name for the goat was a big deal for her girls but they finally chose Brick. Mark and Kim said the tack they use for the pack goat is actually made for mini-horses.
Kim said she arrived at raising goats when she needed an alternative to cows’ milk to manage allergies in the family. As she worked to meet her children’s needs, she said she developed an affection for the animals that now have lots of roles in the family’s life.
Kim’s Nubian milk goats are registered through the American Dairy Goat Association, a group devoted to helping members become interested in providing an educational opportunity to teach the public about goats. She said globally, more goat milk is consumed than milk from cows, though in the United States, cows rule in the milk business.
The Driggs also are active in the New River Valley Sheep and Goat Club and are looking forward to its big event this fall, “The Greatest of All Time Sheep and Goat Festival.”
Kim is on the group’s board of directors and is working with its vice president, Sarah Smiley, to promote the 2023 festival on Sept. 16 at the New River Valley fairgrounds.
“The festival will feature 30 plus different breeds of sheep and 10 plus breeds of goats, Smiley said in a Facebook post. “New for 2023 is a starter flock sale, featuring several breeds of sheep and goats. Twenty plus club artisans and crafters will be present.”
The Driggs family has demonstrated milking goats both years at the festival held in Draper, Va. on property of the Draper Mercantile. Driggs said the club loved the location but the event has outgrown it. Over 2,000 people attended the event on a hill overlooking the tiny village.
The family’s goats are leased to individuals who want goat milk to drink. This enables the Driggs to comply with Virginia law that prohibits selling milk unless it is from a Grade A dairy. People who participate in a rent share program are seen as drinking the milk from their own goat.
Goats are not the only passion at the Driggs farm. All four daughters are musicians. Each plays a different stringed instrument. After taking about their farm and goat ventures, Mark loaded the four girls into the family vehicle along with a cello, a viola, a violin and a bass. They were off to take part in the Virginia Tech String Program. Kim stayed home to care for the goats as the sun set.