All in the Family
Arizona to Wyoming to Arkansas – perhaps that would seem like an odd path to travel to find happiness, but the Colgan family has. Joy Colgan claimed, “Arizona was too hot, Wyoming was too cold, so we came to Arkansas.” Joy, her husband, Justin and their two children 17-year-old Bela and 16-year-old Waylan, love working as a family on a small farm just outside of Bergman, Ark.
The Colgans, with no real experience in agriculture, asked their children if they wanted to be a part of the local 4-H club. Joy recalled, “Waylan said, ‘yes,’ and Bela said, ‘no.’ So we went out and found Waylan a wether. After he won at his first show, the showmanship class, Bela decided that looked pretty fun. So Bela stole his wether and we had to find another wether. We bought some does, had our first buck and just went from there. Over the years we have tried to improve our genetics and the production of what we’re getting, through research and hard work.”
Justin has a job off the farm, so Joy calls herself “farm director.” She said, “I’m blessed with wonderful kids who really do work hard here on the farm. He (Justin) supports the whole kit-and-caboodle, I run the finances and the kids are the grunts.”
The Colgans raise registered Boer goats. They currently have 40 head, which includes 20 breeding does, two bucks and the remainder in kids. They sell their goats off-the-farm through either word-of-mouth or their website. The day of this interview, customers Roy and Carolyn Clark were there to pick up a doe and a wether for their children. The Clarks have formerly purchased goats from the Colgans. One, Miss Kitty, is used as a therapy animal at Carolyn’s place of employment, the local Health Care Rehab Center. Miss Kitty usually sports a Pamper, a skirt, pink T-shirt and a pink ribbon on her head. The residents love her.
The Colgans’ does usually kid in the spring. Joy brings the does into the barn and places a baby monitor with them, so they can have some privacy. Joy said, “When we hear one of them going into labor, that’s when we spring into action – whether it be two o’clock in the afternoon or 4 a.m.”
The two Colgan teenagers, under Joy’s watchful eye, assume full responsibility for the day-to-day care of the herd. Bela said, “My brother and I feed, water, give shots, do the castrating and tattooing.”
The family would rather castrate than band their males because Joy said that after banding, the wethers stop eating, they drop weight and, many times it’s hard to get them back on track. The siblings do their job well and Bela, who wants to be a nurse, has already developed skill with a knife.
For predator control, they keep three herd dogs, an Akbash, an Anatolian and a Great Pyrenees. Major predators are domestic dogs, coyotes and big cats. The dogs are trained from puppies, when they are put in with a group of young goats and raised with them.
Joy said, “I think that goats are an up-and-coming industry and I think it’s great to get kids involved with this. It teaches them responsibility, hard work and a sense of accomplishment when they go into the show ring and do well. When it’s all said and done, if you don’t want to eat your wether, there’s always a buyer for them.”
About being in the goat business, Joy said, “It’s a fun business. It’s a really expensive hobby. We do some of the American Boer Goat Assn. showings. When you do those, you have to have really, really good goats and you have to have money. Those shows are expensive to travel to and to enter.”
The Colgans said that the goats don’t quite pay all the expenses yet, but that’s their goal. The more shows they go to and the more they win, the more they can ask for their goats. Justin said, “Our biggest goal is to get it to pay for itself.” However, he is quick to add that it’s an excellent family activity. He continued, “It’s a weekend for us to get away and spend time with the family. That’s the reason why I do it.”
Joy concluded, “It’s definitely a family affair and hard work – but we love it.”