Just a girl and her goats

Senior develops a love for goats and 4-H while growing up near rural life


photo contributed by Madison Schafer

During the summer before second grade, senior Madison Schafer discovered the unexplored world of 4H. Years later, at 17, she would find herself with a total of eight goats, which would become like her family.

“(My goats) just spark an interest, they are very lovable animals,” Schafer said. “They have been in my family for quite a few years.”

Schafer is definitely not a rookie any longer as she has been raising goats since she was 12 years old. Now that she is older, she gets to be their owner and caretaker, which includes their bedding, feeding, fair preparation and more.

According to Schafer, this can sometimes be challenging as the goats are placed far away from her in Madison, Ind., which is almost a two hour drive from Indianapolis.

Due to this long distance between her and the goats, throughout the week the goats are usually watched and fed by Schafer’s grandparents on their farm. However, every free weekend, she will wake up and get ready for the long, but worth it, drive that will take Schafer to her goats.

Close friends of hers, such as seniors Lela Scott and Cece Mitchell, have also enjoyed the privilege of seeing one of her best friends doing what she likes and doing it outstandingly well. Both attended one of Schafer’s 4H fairs this past summer, and according to them, it was simply incredibly cool.

“I think that is rewarding to her, if she works with (the goats) all the time, to see that they listen to her and do what she says,” Mitchell said. “They definitely respond better to her than they did to me and Lela.”

Senior Madison Schafer feeds cucumbers to her goats at her farm over fall break. This is one way she cares for her 8 goats. photo contributed by Madison Schafer

Schafer specializes in the care of meat goats, which, according to her, are way easier than milk goats. Nevertheless, whenever fair and show season comes up her goats would need much more of Schafer’s attention. When this is necessary, she will clean and walk them very often, as well as providing them with a new special feed according to the period of time.

She does have a favorite thing about watching her goats grow up. This would be whenever her goats are just newborns as during this time, the animals are very curious and playful.

“She calls them her little babies,” Scott said. “They are, I guess, in a way.”

But apart from the cuteness of the youngest ones, she also loves getting them ready for the judgment process when fair time comes around. Schafer loves seeing their improvement being shown and proving in front of the judges the bond that they have built during all the months of in hand preparation.

However, her love for the animal was totally unexpected. Schafer’s grandparent’s farm is mainly dedicated to sheep, therefore no one else in her family showed any type of interest in other animals. This is why it turned out to be a big surprise that Schafer grew such a passion for goats.

“My sister just thinks that they are cute,” Schafer said. “No one else really has had the exact strong passion that I’ve had with them.”

One of the best opportunities that the goat world gave her was the ability to assist and teach a little girl with her very first steps involving goats. Schafer was amazed by the love that the girl was giving to the goat and reminded her of herself back when the journey started for her.

“She thought it was the absolute greatest thing in the world. It got memories back,” Schafer said. “She had the same passion that I did.”