Goats prove to be winners at Keno! Farm
Keno! Farms is nestled into the hill country at the northwestern edge of Williamson County. The house, on top of which perch jewel-toned peacocks, is shrouded by trees that obscure the view of what lies sprawling behind: goats. I hear them first; their bleating wafts around the farmhouse. Some amble slowly to hay feeders, others stretch luxuriously in the sun. Bucks grunt and head-butt ferociously, foreheads meeting with a heavy thud. Keno! Farm is a flurry of bucolic activity, revolving almost entirely around dairy goats.
John and Mary Fenoglio lead me through pastures, pens, and into a concrete milking parlor. Curious dairy goats peer through windows, nudging their way towards me for a head scratch; pairs of large, intelligent eyes carefully consider me. Mary, a woman with perpetually rosy cheeks and wide smile, explains her appreciation for the goats and the rich milk they produce. Her family grew to love the flavor and quality of the milk in addition to other products created from the milk, including cheeses, yogurt, and soap.
“Goats are a slippery slope.” Mary smiles down into the face of a goat that gently tugs on her shirt. “You can’t have just one.”
Since bringing home two does (female goats) more than thirty years ago, the Fenoglios have developed a large and diverse dairy herd. Keno! Farm is home to Nubian, Alpine, La Mancha, and Saanen dairy goats from champion bloodlines known for producing rich, high quality milk. “The Nubians are divas,” says Mary, who prefers the Alpine breed, which she describes as cool and unflappable, with an exceptional maternal instinct.
“Every single time a plane flies overhead, the Nubians run and scream like the sky is falling. The Alpines just look up and say, ‘Oh, is that a Cessna?’” Mary says. John prefers the Saanen goats, which, he says, are “all milking business without the drama,” an important attribute for a farm concerned with the amount and quality of milk its animals can produce.
Mary admits that there may come a time to reduce the size of the large herd, but she plans to always have a few of these animals that have so deeply enriched the Fenoglios’ lives and the farm that they built from a dream. Greeting the “girls” at the gate every morning, Mary says, is part of “a very peaceful and rewarding relationship. And, obviously, you just can’t beat the milk.”