we’re back!

happy spring! it’s certainly very springlike here on the farm – 60 degrees and sunny one minute, and snowing sideways the next. seedlings in the greenhouse and pregnant goats in the field.

you may have noticed that our website got hosed and went down in a spray of formatting errors and 404s last year. we’re pleased to report that we’re up and running again! however, the experience of getting hacked also hosed all of our media files, and getting 15 years of photographs re-synced with 15 years worth of blog posts is, well, not going to happen. so we’re just starting fresh from here. previous posts were mostly designed as photo posts, and i’m sorry to say we’ve lost all that documentation in this format. spring is a good time for a clean slate, in any case. for a good visual representation of Sunflower River, you can also follow us on instagram.

we’ll try to post here more regularly as we move forward! you can expect to see more visual upgrades to the site rolling out now that we have the basics put back together.


goat yoga!

Is there anything more cheerful and emblematic of spring than baby goats? I’m not sure there is. So in the spirit of springtime and joy and setting down your burdens to relax into the moment, Sunflower River is bringing you: Goat Yoga!

Goat Yoga!
Sunday, April 17th at 1pm
Saturday, May 14th, 11am
with Erin Hansbrough
at Sunflower River
outdoors, bring a mat & your water bottle
(we have a few mats folks can borrow if you don’t have one!)

No yoga experience necessary, no flexibility required, and unless the day is warm, you probably won’t break a sweat. Each session is unique – goats are unpredictable! Laughter is guaranteed! You can focus on centering yourself in the face of physical distraction, take selfies with baby goats, or enjoy the sensation of stress evaporating from your body as you move completely into the moment, and surrender to the adorable experience of baby goats bouncing all around you and off your body.

Message for any questions, or to get the address! Register by contacting Erin at Pre-registration required!



Kat has a soap shop! while everybody was learning how to bake banana bread as their pandemic project last year, i was learning how to make goat’s milk soap. (well, and also how to back up a trailer, but that’s still a work in progress.) it’s twice as much chemistry (and therefore alchemy) as baking, and at least as fun as it is weird. the upshot of all this is that i have accumulated enough handmade soap to open a soap shop!  We’re on Etsy as Sunflower River Soaps, and you can also order soaps directly from me by email, text, or instagram DM.

currently available scents are:

rose vetiver
rosemary mint
calendula citrus
cedar & lemongrass

all soaps are made with our goats milk, as well as a variety of oils and plant-based colorants. full ingredients lists are in the etsy listings:


a wedding, and suddenly autumn

Last month, Sunflower River had the pleasure of hosting the wedding of our friends Victoria and Logan. It’s been some years since we’ve hosted an event like this, and it was an unexpected delight. The farm is clean and clear, with a fresh-scrubbed feel that all of us are loving – including the happy couple. The ceremony was held in our main ritual ground, a large circle under the 200 year old Grandfather Cottonwood, ringed with grapevines on trellises and fruit trees. We put on a fresh coat of mulch for the occasion, and the space looks better than ever.

The theme of the wedding was The Night Circus, and the bridal party decorated accordingly. After the ceremony, the reception was held in the fire circle, with snacks, circus performers, and games. Following this, a food truck from the Street Food Institude provided catering. Dinner was set up in a pavilion in the pasture, with an aerial performer and acrobats from Wise Fool providing entertainment.

It was an entirely lovely evening, graced with beautiful weather and a lively but mellow, fun, event. And everybody who wanted to got to visit with the baby goats.

If you have an event you think would be a good fit for our space, please reach out! We’re interested in hosting more events like this, and have plenty of space for events up to around 150 people.


turkey time!

It’s that time of year again – Sunflower River has farm-fresh turkeys available!

Our birds are cage free heritage birds, rich and juicy and, if we say so ourselves, delicious. We’re raising Narragansetts this year, a beautiful heritage bird with a lovely temperament. Birds range from 6-25 pounds dressed weight, and will cost $8/pound oven-ready, or $7/pound if you come help process. Processing will be on November 20th, from 7am-noon; we’ll schedule the details when you reserve a bird. To reserve your bird, email us at A $20 deposit holds your bird and is deducted from the final cost. It also helps us pay for feed, as they eat quite a bit as they get big!

We do not do a winter processing, so if you are interested in buying a turkey for the winter holiday of your choice, you are welcome to do so now and then freeze it for later.

Author Kat Heatherington

a goat named July

Back when we bought Sunflower River, and were talking about getting goats, and were working on building some infrastructure for goats, I had a conversation with a co-worker about her experience of owning goats. She said, “you know they’re a lot before you get them, but they are more even than you think. Be sure you’re ready before you jump in. Goats are next-level farming.” She had been living on her 6 acre property with a large garden, horses, poultry and a herd of about 15-20 goats for several years at that time.

We got rabbits fairly early on, because somebody wanted to re-home some meat rabbits and we decided we could do that. They were a lot more than we thought they would be, and necessitated a lot of very rapid infrastructure-building, some of which is in use (for other purposes) to this day. Ultimately, we decided that we are not up for the various experiences involved in raising and processing meat rabbits.

Now it’s many years later and we have goats. Three, because we wanted to start small, and go slow, and make sure we had time to build all our necessary infrastructure before we were faced with kidding and milking (and milk-storage and cheesemaking and sanitation and all the other parts of milking) and processing them. Because of course, processing the unwanted males is part of raising any kind of livestock on a farm – we do it with chickens, and anybody raising a dairy animal has to come to terms with it. In order to have milk, you must breed the females, and then you have kids, who will of course be a mix of males & females, and either you have to sell them or keep them or process them. In general, with dairy goats, most folks will castrate the males and process them for meat, and either keep or sell the young females depending on if they want to grow their own herd or not. You have to keep good breeding records, but you don’t have to keep an unneutered male; you can take your doe out for a date with a stud goat when she’s in season and you’re ready to breed her. because male goats are undesirable on small farms – particularly a farm as small as ours.

So how did we end up with a male goat? Well, he’s wethered, neutered. So he can’t breed, and generally wethering is supposed to help them get over the worst of the problems with billy goats. And he was a really cute, sweet kid when we got him. He was supposed to be processed in July, so I started calling him July so that I wouldn’t get attached. I got attached anyway, and we ended up buying him as well as the doelings – basically as a pet. Unfortuantely, now that July is growing up, he’s much less sweet – he headbutts everybody (in a dominance, trying-to-push-you-down kind of way, not a cute “i love you” way), he jumps on people (I still think this is playful/friendly, but he’s large, and it’s getting difficult to handle – and he is resisting all attempts to train him out of it), and – the most significant thing – he has gotten food-aggessive with Stella.

And Stella, our shy sweet girl from Coonridge, our youngest goat – Stella is going to be a milker next year. Which means she has a lot more long-term value on this farm than July does. She needs to be healthy, plump, and friendly. And he’s not letting her eat – whenever anything good comes into the pen, treats or weeds or elm branches, he works hard to keep her away from it, aggressively head-butting her, attempting to catch her on his horns, chasing her around time and again. He hasn’t injured her yet, but he’s escalating, and it may well just be a matter of time. She sneaks around his back and eats when he’s not looking. Then he goes after her again. She’s eating a decent amount of hay, which he doesn’t try as hard to keep her away from – but she hasn’t started putting on the girth that she should yet for her age, and we think July is a big part of why.

So, we’re going to eat July. I thought I had until Spring of 2021 to get ready to kill a goat myself – but here we go, December it is. (Spring 2021 accounts for breeding the does next late fall/early winter, then a 5-month gestation period.) Of Sunflower River’s five Stewards, Jenny and Tristan have done this work several times, with sheep and pigs at a friend’s farm, and are familiar with and have performed all parts of the process except the killing itself. I haven’t killed anything larger than a turkey, and the last time I had to kill rabbits was extremely difficult for me.

I expect this to be much harder, though for different reasons. The rabbits were physically difficult to kill; since we will be using a bolt-gun, this will not be the case with July. And July is not soft and fuzzy like the bunnies – he’s muscled and coarse, rather, and blessed with sharp hard hooves that he jumps on me with – but he’s cute, I am really fond of him. And, this is the right thing, and it is time. I don’t know that I can or should harden my heart to him – living in close contact with your food doesn’t mean not loving it, and it doesn’t mean failing to bring love to the process of killing for food. Rather the opposite. I expect to cry – and I expect also to do a good job, and do my absolute best to make his last moments as painless and easy for him as possible, because I care about him, and it matters.

Meanwhile, we’ve got July in the pen, because the pen will hold him and the field will not (he bounces right over the gate), and Stella and Dulcinea in the field now, so that they can eat without him. He doesn’t like it, but the does seem to be doing fine without him. And eating well. Still, I aim to make sure July’s last month is as comfortable as I can make it, and I’m trying to visit him regularly and bring him raisins, which he loves above all things except maybe elm leaves.

We will process him next month. I’ve ordered a book of goat meat recipes, and a butchering book specific to goats, so we can study up in advance. We are planning to use all the parts – a friend will take the hide to tan, and I will dry the skull with his beautiful horns, for art. If he didn’t get quite as long of a lease on life as we were originally planning, still, he brings us a great gift: that of learning.


bat houses

Using designs provided by our neighbor, who has had bats in her bat houses for many years, our wwoof volunteer Adam built and installed these lovely bat houses. We’re prone to naming things around here, so they are Nectar House, Agave House, and Ocotillo House. We can’t wait for bats to move in!

Also this tree in autumn is one of the best things about living here. There are a lot of best things about living here, but this tree is really that amazing.


work parties

We have four volunteers working with us on the farm for a couple months – something that hasn’t happened in quite a while. This past work party on Sunday there were 8 people on the farm for all or part of the day, and we:

  • de-mousified all the stored insulation and moved it to the cottage attic (no actual mice found, but we unbagged and examined every piece to make sure; several cockroach eggs removed)
  • added 2′ of height to the west side of the pasture fence, watched the goat ooze out of a ground-level hole while we did so, and fixed said hole
  • put goats back in a total of 5 times
  • learned that a goat can ooze
  • finished fencing the asparagus bed and also weeded it
  • finished the hay barn
  • weeded epic amounts of horse nettle around the property
  • AND Rev fixed my yurt door
  • and I pruned some elms that were leaning on the wall

Okay, so maybe learning that a goat can ooze through a hole less than a quarter the size of said goat was not really productive, per se, but it was very informative.  And after that, our volunteer Adam inspected the entire pasture fence for ground-level holes or other weaknesses that the goat could exploit.

We certainly have plenty of work days where there are only four of us, and so comparably less stuff gets done, and work days where no matter how many people we throw at it, we can’t finish a project, either due to the largeness of the project, or to delays of many kinds, or general lack of energy, or anything.  But this work party felt great, and really demonstrated the potential inherent in the work-party structure, so I thought I’d mention it.  If you are interested in coming to a work party or two, sign up for our email list!  If you click the Contact Us link in the menu, it’ll take you to the sign-up page.


racing into autumn

We have been keeping extremely busy around here since the Harvest Festival. The Festival itself was, as always, a lovely day spent in the excellent company of friends old and new. Many farm tours were had, many people met the goats, much good food was eaten, and as ever, the pie contest was a dazzling success. We always enjoy this day, which is our unoffical community-birthday party, a great deal, and this year was no exception.

Shortly after the Harvest Festival, three new interns (through wwoof and workaway) arrived on the farm, and we have been getting projects done at a dead run ever since! It’s a delight to have so many excited and engaged young people around the place and tackling our substantial summer backlog of projects.

One very notable project is the completion of our new hay barn! We’ve got goats now, so we need a place to store hay, and that place is not the inside of the existing barn, which is set up as a workshop. So Rev designed and built a long high narrow hay barn on the south side of the main barn – near the goat pen, easy to access from it, but outside of it, and a good dry spot from the weather.

this photo does not do the hay barn justice. neither does this one, but it’s more fun:

We fixed the gate that day, so they couldn’t repeat this particular stunt!

Using plans provided by my colleage Jen of Seed Broadcast, we have also built a field shelter for the goats out of all repurposed material.

It is tall enough for full-grown goats to walk under, and sturdy enough for them to walk on top of it (an important characteristic in anything that is going to be near a goat!). The frame is made of old hoop-house pieces that we had laying around, and have never once used in the garden, and some spare pro-panel roofing that was left over from another project. The three goats we currently have will all fit under it, as well. We’ll probably add another shelter if we ever expand the herd. Meanwhile, this will keep them dry in the rain in the pasture, since goats really hate being wet. They are secretly just cats with horns – which July evidenced the other day by squishing through a hole not more than 12″ wide – the goat himself being substantially wider than that, and also about 3′ tall – but he fit anyway through this small, ground-level hole he had made in the fence! This after weeks of mystery escapes multiple times every day. The field is basically goat paradise, but it’s no good; any fence is there to be crossed! Two interns and I were busy adding a couple feet of height to the west side of the field, on the premise that he was jumping out over there, when the goat dropped to his knees, oozed through the hole, and popped up on the other side happily crunching elm leaves, right in front of us. Cats with horns, I tell you.

Another of the many projects that’s gotten done in the last month is a complete rebuild of the outhouse. It was in a location that no longer quite made sense – a relic of an older configuration of our property paths, which have changed quite a bit in 12 years. It had also begun to develop a distinct list. So this summer, three of our stalwart volunteers took it apart, and then Rev rebuilt it, square to the new path, with a better foundation, more space, and an improved metal roof!

This week’s major building project is also headed up by volunteers – a second intern housing dome out back. The one we have is quite popular with interns who will be camping out, and really it’s very comfortable fancy-camping digs. We have parts donated some years ago by our friend Dave, so we are now setting up a second housing dome beside the first one. It’s still under construction, but as of this afternoon, it was looking very dome-like!

We’ll get a foundation under it and a tarp over it, and add a door like we did with the other intern dome, for easy ingress.

and because I can’t go two months without a substanive post and then not give you a gratuitious kitty picture, here’s Arisilde in repose.


three goats of our own

So, as I mentioned last month, we did buy July, the young wether (neutered male) from our friend Laura. Then a couple things happened very rapidly, and now we have three goats. We ended up with a choice between a mini-Lamancha/Nigerian dwarf cross doeling, and an alpine doeling. And we ended up choosing them both!

Meet Dulcinea, our mini:

As a miniature breed, Dulce will give less milk than her larger counterparts, but as a half-Nigerian-dwarf goat, she’ll give milk that is very high in butterfat – ie, sweet. She was disbudded on her farm of origin, so her horns will never grow in, and she must have been bottle-fed, because she is absolutely sweet as pie. As sweet as her name, in fact. She runs up to the gate to be petted whenever someone comes into the barnyard, and is very nearly as interested in pets as she is in treats, which is saying a lot for a goat. She’s tractable and responsive to human needs.

and meet Stella, our Alpine:

She’s being held by our wonderful long-term intern Adriana because we had to rescue her from inside the feeder – she somehow managed to climb in, and then got stuck. It took three of us to get her out again. Prior to that moment, she hadn’t let any of us touch her – but she was very calm stuck inside the feeder, and seemed to understand that we would help her, even if she doesn’t quite trust any of us yet under ordinary circumstances. The next day she was willing to accept weeds out of my hand, though, so I think maybe it helped! We will keep working on domesticating her. She seems interested in the idea – she watches July and Dulce intently while they interact with us. Unfortunately, July sees himself as being in charge of the herd, and he’s jealous of both food and affection, so he will butt her away from us when she comes close enough to get petted instead of him. I am going to start working with her without him in the pen, I think.

And in case you missed the instagram/facebook photo updates of me and July: