ETA: Hey, all! Thanks for all the great questions today. Just in case anyone ever stumbles upon this thread and has a question, for now we’re not going to lock it. You’re also invited, though, to reach out via DM or through any of our social channels. We’re thebelmontgoats pretty much most of the usual places. Thanks again!

The Belmont Goats has offered Portland “an oasis of rural community amidst the built, urban environment” since 2013. We’re a minor darling of the local press, have had visitors from around the city, around the country, and around the world, and 2023 promises to be full of decade milestones both large and small.

To mark this rolling anniversary, we’re hosting this AMA now on the 10th birthday of Bambi and Cooper because the herd really started to take off as a thing when these siblings joined at just two-weeks- old. After all: baby goats.

In many ways, Bambi and Cooper mark the official 10th anniversary of The Belmont Goats. Although not yet going by that name, at that point the herd was “complete”: no new goats would join until those who were born into the herd later in the year.

There’s ten years of stories to tell and potential questions to ask, so let’s get started! We’ll be answering questions from 10:00am until 10:00pm Pacific, some of that from the field.

Disclaimer: No goats will be answering, at least not without the help of their social medium. Our volunteer staff will be watching the thread and drafting answers in our Slack workspace for posting here.

Proof: Here's my proof!

Comments: 60 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

SpaceElevatorMusic33 karma

Hello, and thanks for the AMA. Pleasure to 'bleat' you (is that just sheep? do goats bleat? [sidebar]). I have four questions, two silly and two not.

1) Any comment on the industry pay+benefits disparity between for-profit herds of goats and non-profit herds of goats?

2) Have you ever looked into somehow collaborating with The Mountain Goats?

3) What's your intention in maintaining a herd of goats in an otherwise-urban area?

4) How do you think people's reactions to your project might differ if you instead ran a de-facto urban sanctuary for (what are more typically than goats considered to be) 'farm animals'?

thebelmontgoats19 karma

Great kickoff questions! And yes, goats do bleat. (Some would say a sheep sounds like “bah” and a goat sounds like “meh”.)

We’re going to let our volunteers on our Slack get into 1. and 4. before answering them there, but as for the others:

We have not looked into collaborating with The Mountain Goats but an early volunteer goatherd and artist once painted three of our goats standing atop each other chewing off band posters from a telephone pole. (None of them were The Mountain Goats.)

The intention of an urban herd springs from the original field (on SE Belmont in Portland) where after three years of rented herds an adjacent business owner started his own there because he just liked seeing goats there. It wasn’t long before it was clear that people really used the site as a respite, and when that property was being developed, some of the volunteers bought the herd in order to keep that going.

Thanks! We’ll be back to get to the other two questions!

thebelmontgoats5 karma

So, back to 1. and 4. with at least some preliminary answers.

Not sure what to say, exactly, to 1. except to say that during times when the workload is heavy it’s too bad that we’re not actually a large enough nonprofit operation to actually pay anyone. It’s such a micro-nonprofit that especially with the emergency medical expenses in more recent years it’s almost like you could say a good month is when board members don’t need to go out of pocket for things like feeding the herd. Like many nonprofits, burnout is a risk. We’re fortunate to have all the supporters we do, especially during emergencies where we are fighting to keep a goat going.

As for a more traditional, full-on sanctuary, the first thing is that it would be such a much larger operation that it’s an open question whether or not it would be feasible to do in an urban fashion here, because you’d need permanent land, not just some city parcel that will be vacant for two or three years. So it’s hard to judge how people would react to such a thing because it might not even have been a doable thing.

Suitable-Lake-255025 karma

How do you type with no thumbs?

thebelmontgoats33 karma

Our social medium types for us. We tried voice-to-text but it just came out, “Meeeeeeh! Meh! Meeeh!”

xosxos16 karma

What is an ideal day in the life of an urban goat?

thebelmontgoats28 karma

Waking up to your buddies, some good grass hay, sun to layabout in but shade if you want it, and scratches through the fence unless you’re lucky enough to have open days because scratches in-person is better.

Now if you asked what is an urban goat’s perfect date, well that’d be this.

KandaFierenza16 karma

Recently i was at a petting zoo here in the Netherlands, and i was bullied by a goat.

I crouched down at a section about 10m from any other animal where a smaller cute goat , who spotted me, and followed by a grey goat, walked towards me. I let them approach me. Mini goat liked the head pats and then mosied on past me, while grumpy goat started to push against me to the point where I was as gently as I could, steering him in circles essentially spinning the fucker around and then away from me while making my way to the exit without alarming the children. Internally I was fearing for my life concerned he'd think he was part ram, but my partner had recorded me and it looks actually like I had the situation under control and I was doing some slow walking dance routine. His tail was wagging.

The goat wasn't lowering his head but kept walking towards me while I held him at arms length, span him around me ( to mostly not deal with his horns near my body) and I would release him facing away from me before he would turn around and try to headbutt me.

So goat experts: What caused this behaviour? Was it because i was crouching down and stole his goat friend and he decided to assert his dominance and be territorial? If not this, then what other explanations do you think it could be?

What should I do in the future to counteract this behaviour in the future? E.g. should i try to become big and loud or should I just accept he is a fucker and leave the enclosure the next time i decide I want to pet some sheep because goats are now on the same level as ducks in terms of evilness?

thebelmontgoats15 karma

One possible explanation is that this was a parent goat and a child. goat. But sometimes goats are just stubborn and are going to do what they want. Your basic approach of just trying to alter the goat’s trajectory rather than directly push back is basically correct. Pushing back against a goat doesn’t really get you anywhere good, really.

Clarknt6711 karma

A goat at a petting zoo ate my friend’s new dress during her 5th birthday party. Did she have it coming?

thebelmontgoats12 karma

Our humans and goats might have differing opinions on that. There was a second sentence to go here but our social medium got distracted by Duchess untying his boot.

CieraDescoe10 karma

Why urban goats? What is the mission and vision and how did this start? Do you have any plans to expand to other cities?

thebelmontgoats26 karma

Thanks for the questions. A little of this is answered in another question but we don’t want people to have to jump around, and we love telling the story anyway.

Back in 2010 a local landscape architect spotted two whole square blocks of vacant field on the line between a light industrial area and a residential one. He approached the developer to pitch bringing in goats to clear the brush during summer months.

His secret agenda was that he also was interest in what an urban neighborhood would think about Sudden Goats.

For three summers rented herds came in at which point an adjacent business owner asked if he could just start his own herd there because he’d grown to love the idea but wanted goats there year-round.

That’s the herd that still exists today. The neighborhood of course loved the goats, and people from around Portland would come either for respite or just the whimsy of it. When the land got closer to development, several volunteers bought the herd in order to keep the project going on another property.

There’s definitely no plans to expand to other cities although people of course are welcome to try on their own and use us as a resource for how to go about it. The project is a very small nonprofit and its capacity is pretty well tapped just maintaining a herd here in Portland.


all_the_cool_kids9 karma

This may be a common question, but how the heck do goats not get injured when they eat blackberry bushes?

Also, I apologize for climbing into the original fenced enclosure on Belmont to play with the goats back in 2012 when I was walking back home drunk from Holocene, but I honestly can't say I regret the decision.

thebelmontgoats13 karma

That was common back then, in that sort of triangle of bars. We’d get asked if anyone ever “broke” in and that’s literally what we’d tell them: drunk people on their home who went, “I gotta pet those goats!” (In 2012 it likely would have been one of the original rented herds, so I’m afraid none of ours probably remember you.)

As for blackberry bushes, it’s mostly about their hair and thickish skin. That said, back in that original field the property owner once did bring in lawn maintenance to mow everything down and the original owner of this herd asked the workers on site to leave this one patch of pretty gnarly stuff with sharp bits to see if the goats would eat it if it’s all the browse that was left.

They did, but they chewed very, very, gingerly.

Ok-Feedback56047 karma

Has the treatment of goats become cheaper these days or its still costlier like 90s?

thebelmontgoats6 karma

Prior to this herd, we weren't goatherds so we can't speak to what it was like in the 90s. What we can say is that routine stuff like vaccinations mostly has been reasonable, although that routine stuff at this point we just handle in-house. That said, we've had two goats requiring some major surgery over the years and that for sure was not inexpensive.

Ok-Feedback56047 karma

What are the daily expenses require to keep a goatshed running well?

thebelmontgoats7 karma

So maybe the best way to answer this is to share the information we have attached to our on-site donations box.

What Donations Cover:

*Some of these values fluctuate based on availability and demand

$2 - Carrots/Celery for treats
$5-10 General expense buffer
$16.99 buys (1) 50-pound bag of Alfalfa Pellets for Bailey
$20 buys 1 bale of Orchard Hay*
$20-25 buys 1 box of gloves* (for Cooper & Atho's baths)
$30 buys 4-6 weeks of A&D Cream* (for Cooper & Atho's Baths)
$108 pays for half of our website hosting
$220 covers 1 Regular Vet Visit
$615 covers 1/4 of our mandatory insurance

ParmaHamRadio3 karma

Would you please tell us more about the A&D cream for goats? I'm curious why they need it?

thebelmontgoats8 karma

Sure, but fair warning this is pretty medically specific in detail. Two of our goats (Cooper, and then later Atho) in the last several years developed urinary blockages problematic enough to require surgery to reroute their urethras. This can result in one or both of them now urinating on themselves to one degree or another, and also one or the other of their hind legs often rubs against the place they now pee from. This also explains the baths mentioned on the list. So, the A&D cream is to help with things like scalding.

thebelmontgoats4 karma

We wanted to post a followup here, because a good point was raised on our Slack: our previous response of course does not account for the value of volunteer time, without which nothing would run at all, let alone well.

samthedevildog6 karma

Hi! I love visiting the goats!! What are their favorite snacks to eat?

thebelmontgoats7 karma

Among the favorites they get from their goatherds are mini-carrots and bananas. Also fallen leaves in the autumn because they are basically goat potato chips.

(You probably already know this but for other readers: we generally do not let visitors feed the goats, or bring them stuff to feed them. Partly for health reasons and partly for safety because the goats are very food-motivated and can get rambunctious when there are treats.)

DamnImAwesome6 karma

Lebron or Jordan?

thebelmontgoats9 karma

Well, they both have Portland connections through Nike, so that’s tough. But there’s also a Michael Jordan who is Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Portland and as far as we know there’s no LeBron James, so we’ll have to go Jordan.

randomness206 karma

How would you advise other cities/countries looking to start something similar? I just did a reddit search on you guys and found a very cute photo of Carl standing on a chair!

thebelmontgoats6 karma

Regular version or meme version?

The first thing someone would have to do is find out their local laws on urban livestock. (Portland, for example, you can even just have backyard residential goats, though not many.) Other than the legal question the single biggest hurdle is land. For our herd, they began on private property and then moved on to various city-owned lots that eventually would be developed (like the original private lot) but aren’t being used in the meantime.

Beyond those things are the matter of financial support. This herd originally was paid for out of pocket by its original owner. Since then, while the goats themselves are privately-owned there’s a nonprofit that gets to use them for this public good.

Also, and this is crucial: neighborhood and local resident/groups buy-in.

SyntheticOne5 karma

Tom Brady (famous human football (American) player) is referred to as "The GOAT". Are you concerned?

thebelmontgoats4 karma

There can never be enough goats.

BitnaNebitnost5 karma

What do you think is the deal with the baby goats in Severance?

thebelmontgoats8 karma

Given that the Goat Room is discovered during Mark and Helly’s “mental health walk” and features an employee bottle-feeding one of the goats, we’d like to think it’s a psychological perk of working at Lumen, but, you know, it’s Lumen so somehow probably not.

plmhyrsx3 karma

This is awesome, you sound like a really cool set up and you may well get another international visitor one day as I love goats. What’s your favourite story over the past ten years?

thebelmontgoats5 karma

This is a tough question to answer because in ten years we’ve had so many volunteers that there’s simply no one answer. The early-days volunteers simply might pick the day they learned they could go inside with the goats as their favorite story. Or the day they realized they weren’t visiting anymore, they were volunteer goatherds.

There are a lot of favorite moments, like (as we mentioned elsewhere here) the “running of the goats” across the field in Lents, lured by treats.

Certainly it’s tough to beat the birthings of the two sets of twins who were born into the herd, in September and December of 2013. Not everyone got the chance to see those happen, though.

There’s also the time the original owner and some friends were in the Belmont field and watching Chester who was up on the platform, and everyone suddenly learned about the thing where male goats will pee on their own faces in order to smell good to the lady goats.

Or that time on Belmont when we all thought there was a weird crow waking toward us and it turned out to be a Silkie Bantam rooster, who stayed with us for six months until we re-homed him. Of course, this sort of happened again with a suddenly-appearing Black Sex Link hen. (Note: don’t dump animals on us.)

Or the time in Lents where while the barn was being built and the herd had just moved in and we wanted to see how the neighborhood was overnight, volunteers slept in sleeping bags on the barn roof, and would wake up and be able to look through the dormer opening down onto the herd.

Or how so many kids have walked in and immediately called Chester “Gandalf”.

Or the quiet woman visiting in North Portland with some kids innocently picking figs from the fig tree on-site suddenly finding herself surrounded by goats.

Or how the property owner at the Belmont field once strung that temporary orange plastic fencing up so they could dig a hole for geo-engineering tests but Chester just ran a hole through it like the Kool-Aid Man.

We will say that the single most infamous story is the morning back on Belmont when we got a call that there was a goat tied to our fence. Sure enough, there was our own Bambi. A couple had literally just left watching through the fence and they’d turned back like a block away and spotted it. Someone had to have waited until their left. It seems Bambi had spent some time at a party, as evidenced by her horns having been somehow stained a festive pink-red. Note: do not steal other people’s goats.

(Not for nothing but that Black Sex Link hen? Years later after we moved to the Lents neighborhood, she took an unexpected trip of her own. One that might have included a trip on the local light rail, because she was spotted by a supporter of the goats several stops away.)

For what it’s worth, we hope that over the year other people share their own favorite stories. We’ve got a BelmontGoats10th hashtag ready and waiting for them.

thebelmontgoats4 karma

We’re hashing this out on our Slack. Hang tight!

thebelmontgoats1 karma

Folks in our Slack keeping remembering more. Cooper on a skateboard. That time they went climbing on construction equipment at the original field and Chester and Letty got themselves stuck inside one.

samthedevildog3 karma

What do they like to do for fun?

Have you ever thought about braiding their beards?

Which goat likes pets the most?

thebelmontgoats6 karma

Forgot that Duchess, specifically, likes to sort of twirl a stick around between her horns. It’s really hard to explain.

thebelmontgoats4 karma

In order:

Get scratches from humans. Or treats. When they had more room we used to run them. This involved running out into the field shaking a plastic cup of sunflower seeds and watching them chase you.


They all likes pets and scratches but Bailey would be up there. Bambi and Cooper, todays birthday goats, were bottle-babies so they will always like human attention. That said, Hickory will paw at you if you stop giving him scratches.

I don’t know, I guess what we are saying is folks should just assume they all like them the most, but each in their own ways and after their own favorite kinds of pets.

MyMomSaysIAmCool3 karma

If you're a herd of goats, how do you type on the keyboard?

thebelmontgoats1 karma

trai_dep2 karma

I recently heard a Hip-Hop song by the group Chronic Sheep, "Baaaaaaaad Goats In Our Hood". It is, unsurprisingly, not complementary towards the idea of urban goats generally. They even make slurs about the unusual shape of goats’ pupils, which seems specist at best (for the record, I'm in favor of pupils of all shapes and sizes: let 1,000 pupils bloom!).

It's got a great backbeat, and the chorus is thumping. If disturbing:

Goats r chillin'

But they really villain

When I hear 'em bleat

I yell, We packin’ heat

They like their Techno

But they can't dance, Yo

Which, honestly, if you've ever seen sheep try to dance, is just embarrassing. Hooves. Bumble-bee bodies (not to wool-shame, but c'mon!) <shudder>

I was wondering what goats’ views are in regard to dance music, dancing in general, and when the eternal Goat vs Sheep urban warfare that plagues cities across the US might have a cease-fire. Can't all urban ungulates1 just, get along?

Anyone with any experience with sheep knows they're the instigators – don't let their roly-poly bodies lull you into dropping your guard; it'll be your last mistake! So I'm hopeful that the first step towards urban peace might be made by the humble, mighty, urban goat.

And, thanks for clearing our hills of all that potential fuel before fire season! So worthwhile and so valued!

1 – Hooved creatures.

thebelmontgoats2 karma

We haven’t forgotten this one.

bcjh1 karma

Baaaahh baaaaaaah baaaah bah bah baaaaaaaah?

thebelmontgoats1 karma


puzzlefighter1 karma

How big is your herd? Do you ever get contracted to work as vegetation/grass control in some hillier areas? What kind of hazards do you generally have to account for?

thebelmontgoats1 karma

Our herd has never been larger than fourteen goats (and we lost our first one, Phil, back in February). We’ve never done that kind of work, although technically we worked our original lot back in 2013/2014. That lot has brought in rented herds for three summers for that task but then a neighboring business asked to just start a resident herd that lives there all the time. That’s this herd. So, they are not working goats, per se, and we tend to refer to them as “goats of leisure”.

knotsbygordium1 karma

Happy birthday Bambi and Cooper! How have the herd done with clearing the brush areas they are in? Do they get different places to clear from the city?

thebelmontgoats2 karma

Aside from the original lot where they became a herd, they aren’t really tasked with this job. (And even there it was sort of by default because they were a resident herd on a property that previously had been hiring rented herds.) Their only “work” is to provide a space of respite for people in the city, typically occupying land slated for eventual development, on a temporary-use basis.