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Meet the new kids on the farm

April 18, 2011 12:15 am


Jed, a Nigerian dwarf goat, delivered twin boys, salt-and-pepper-colored Ralph and mostly black Isaac, on April 10 at Biota Farm in King George. lo041811goatsscr4.jpg

Biota Farm's Steve Hickman holds Ralph two days after the Nigerian dwarf goat's birth. lo041811goatsscr2.jpg

Ralph (above) and Isaac are enjoying their first spring. lo041811goatsscr3.jpg

DeLaura Padovan (left) watches Jed and her kid Isaac, a twin, two days after Jed gave birth at Biota Farm in King George.


Biota Farm in King George County may be a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, but that doesn't mean it lacks for excitement.

Just ask Sophia Curran.

The 19-year-old New York City native wanted to try her hand at farm life, so--through mutual friends--she made contact with the Padovan-Hickman family in King George.

She arrived at their Biota Farm at the start of April, and a few days later, she was witnessing the birth of baby goats.

"I'd never seen any kind of birthing--ever," Curran said last week, 48 hours after welcoming Ralph and Isaac into the world.

Steve Hickman and DeLaura Padovan, along with daughters Tara and Maren, care for a small herd of dairy goats at Biota, where they also grow vegetables and raise chickens.

A week ago, four of their does were pregnant, including a cocoa-colored Nigerian dwarf named Jed, who herself was the first goat ever born at Biota 14 years ago.

On Sunday, April 10, about 4 in the afternoon, Curran said she heard Tara and Maren hollering from the barn. By the time she sprinted out there, a soggy baby Ralph was lying on the ground and Mama Jed was working on baby No. 2.

"With each contraction, there was almost an orblike thing coming in and out, in and out, and every few minutes, it would grow in size," recalled Curran. "Since I'd never seen something like this, I was nervous. I didn't know what it was supposed to look like. She looked like she was working so hard."

Jed, who has mothered many, persevered and within about 10 or 15 minutes, Isaac arrived, front hooves first like he was diving into the deep end.

Jed went up and back between the twins, licking one, then nursing the other, said Curran.

Forty-eight hours later, the kids capered playfully around the barn, exploring their surroundings before scampering back to mom and nudging her for a snack.

Ralph sports a salt-and-pepper coat, while Isaac is mostly black. Each has a white marshmallowlike tuft on top of his head.

"They plop onto the ground and within two or three minutes, they stand up, shaking their heads, looking for milk. It's amazing," said Padovan. "In a few weeks, they'll be running around so fast, you won't be able to catch them."

The milk from Nigerian dwarf goats is as rich and creamy as it comes, said Padovan. The farm is getting a license from the state so it can sell homemade cheeses made from that milk at the King George Farmers Market, which Padovan manages.

Ralph and Isaac will probably be sold as pets once they're 6 to 8 weeks old, Padovan said.

In the meantime, three more goats at Biota are expecting, which means Curran is likely to get an eyeful before she returns to Manhattan in May.

"This is really exactly what I wanted," she said. "I couldn't have asked for a better experience."

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428

They often arrive on wobbly legs, with matted fur or patchy down, looks of confusion and ravenous appetites.

No matter what, they're heavy on the adorable factor.

Spring brings lots of baby animals, and over the next few weeks we hope to introduce you to some of the newest members of our community. If you know an expectant mom--feathered, furred or otherwise--let us know at

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