I have a bit of an obsession with goats, partly thanks to Leanne and her rescue farm Goats of Anarchy. Located in New Jersey, Leanne started GOA a couple of years ago after she instantly fell in love with goats after visiting another farm. She left her big job in NYC, started up on social media to document it all and got featured by Instagram the first day she was unemployed, gaining over 30K followers.
It’s hard not to fall in love with all of Leanne’s babies and life on her farm while browsing through her feed. Now with almost 200K followers, her mission is going strong, making lovers out of us all. Here Leanne shares about her life on the farm and advice to all those wannabe goat owners out there.
How did you first become interested in goats?
I was working in NYC as an event planner. In 2011, I got married and moved to New Jersey and began commuting. I can’t remember what made me do this, but there is one particular drive home that changed my life forever. While sitting in tunnel traffic, I got out my phone and started googling “factory farming”. After reading very little, and seeing several images and videos, I became a vegetarian right there in my car. This was about 4 years ago. Over the next few months, I continued to research factory farming and decided to become vegan. It was the easiest and best decision of my life. Once you fully understand what is in animal products, and how they are made, it is impossible to eat them. Becoming vegan gave me an instant compassion for farm animals. I was curious about them and wanted to know more about the possibilities of relationships with humans. I remember seeing goats in fields and found them interesting. One day, my husband stopped by a goat farm and I knew instantly I wanted some of my own.
How many do you have now?
Do you have other animals as well?
Yes! I have a mini horse, mini donkey, 11 goats, a mini pig, 2 bunnies, 3 dogs and 22 chickens!
When did you start Goats of Anarchy? What are your future plans?
I started Goats of Anarchy in April of 2014 after getting my first two goats. I was so pleasantly surprised by their personalities and wanted to share them with those who are not able to have goats in their families. I plan to expand the Goats of Anarchy Rescue very soon. My husband and I are buying a home with larger property so that I can continue to take in baby goats with special needs. I have two main goals for the Goats of Anarchy. The first, is to rescue as many babies with special needs as I can, while giving them the one on one attention that they each need. I believe that each orphaned rescue baby needs to feel safe, loved and they need 24/7 care for those first few weeks of life. The second goal for the Goats of Anarchy is to continue to share the lives of these baby goats through social media in hopes that those who follow them will see farm animals as sentient beings. I want our followers to be emotionally invested in the day to day lives of the Goats of Anarchy.
What made you decide to leave your job in NYC to follow this passion?
I was too busy, too stressed and felt like something was missing. I walked around thinking, “this isn’t what life should be like”. After bringing home Jax and Opie, I realized how much I enjoyed being outside with them. Less than two months later, I brought home three more; Nero, Tig and Otto. The more time I spent outside, the more I knew it was time to leave my current job. I was a new vegan with a new passion for farm animals and I wanted to find a way to advocate for them.
Tell us about Ansel & Petal.
Ansel and Petal are two miracles. They were saved from a horrific cruelty case in Hackettstown, NJ in April of 2015. The Barnyard Sanctuary was called in by the NJSPCA late one night. Five little piglets escaped a backyard hoarding situation and were found just down the road. When the animal control officer returned them, he couldn’t believe what he saw and called the NJSPCA. There were almost 200 baby animals in the back yard. Temperatures were freezing, there was no food or water and many were deceased. There were piles of dead baby animals all over the property. Ansel and Petal were found inside the house along with two other baby goats and a calf. One of the baby goats was already deceased and the other one died later that night. All of the animals were starving and most were very sick. Ansel and Petal were about three days old. They were both starving and had ecoli. The Barynyard Sanctuary called me because they knew that I had experience with bottle feeding. I agreed to foster them. They were very sick and we did not think Ansel would make it. After a lot of work and care, he pulled through and they are both absolutely thriving today. Ansel is now the biggest and strongest goat of the herd!
Any funny shenanigans that go on there?
Yes, always. Right now, I am spending my days changing diapers, onesies, giving bottles and trying to make sure these baby goats don’t destroy my entire house. Chibs is absolutely nuts. His absolute favorite thing to do, is to jump on the bed, or the couch or a chair and pee. He just can’t pee standing on the floor. It MUST be up high on something made of fabric. He wears two diapers and a onesie but those are just suggestions and unfortunately for me, not fail proof. As a team, it is the mission of the three babies to unroll every toilet paper roll, eat every napkin or paper towel and shred every piece of paper they can find. I already had to throw out my curtains because they shredded those! Goats ARE NOT house pets!!!
What is your advice for people who want to get goats as pets?
#1. Goats are not house pets! Trust me, when I move to my new farm I will have a barn and will NEVER have house goats again. Judging by the emails and messages I receive, it is clear to me that people are not ready for baby goats before they get them. They just don’t realize how much work they are and how fragile they are. There is so much to learn and you have to do your research. If you are getting babies, you need to know everything about bottle feeding, weaning, and baby goat illnesses. Make sure that you have a tall, secure fence, proper housing and remove all toxic plants. Goats do not eat grass! They will eat anything else and there are tons of toxic plants and flowers. You should decide if you will have horns or if you will disbud them. Disbudding is awful! If you allow them to keep their horns, do you have the correct feeder and fencing to keep them from getting tangled? This often results in death. If you have boys, will you band them or surgically castrate them? You do not want a buck unless you are breeding them. They are smelly, pee on their own faces and can be aggressive. Are you prepared if your goat has one of the common goat diseases such as CL? It’s highly contagious and they need to be separated from the herd. These are just a few things. Please research, research, research. Goats are much more work than you think and they can live 12-15 years!
Have you always been a vegan? What inspired you to become one?
Nope! I’m originally from Texas so I was used to giant slabs of meat and slathered cheese and sour cream on absolutely everything. After seeing just a few photos and videos on factory farming, I became a vegetarian. I continued to do my own research and became vegan just a few months later. This is where my love of farm animals began. I was so angry that I was never told about the terrible abuse, fear and torture that these animals endure and I was even angrier that I had contributed to it for so many years. I knew I would spend the rest of my life trying to make up for it.
How can people support Goats of Anarchy?
Right now I have a Go Fund Me campaign so that I can grow my rescue.
You can also buy shirts from my Etsy store. All proceeds go toward animal care.