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Hello

Welcome to Heartsong Hill Hungry Goats, LLC! My name is Deborah Phillips. I started the business in 2022 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and relocated to Tennessee near Chattanooga in 2024. Read my story below!

My Story

I grew up in the St. Petersburg, FL area and went to college in Florida and Georgia. I did not grow up around livestock, although I asked for a horse every birthday and Christmas, to no avail. I did have a boxer and a guinea pig, though. I worked as a medical research microbiologist for 15 years and then a home-based medical editor  for 25 years while I raised my kids near Winchester, VA. After my second divorce, I started fostering dogs, puppies, and kittens. I eventually retired and did some traveling. After I adopted a deaf puppy and a blind dog, I stopped fostering and decided to get some chickens. My son and daughter-in-law converted a garden shed into a chicken coop and added a small run. I started with seven chickens.

Chickens are the gateway livestock, people! I found interesting breeds laying different colored eggs and just kept adding more chickens! I decided I needed a bigger coop and run, so, since I needed to build a bigger one, I might as well add a goat barn on one end, too, right? The new barn went up, the run quadrupled in size, and a huge area of my woods was fenced for the goats. I had five acres of woods, so there was plenty of room. I found seven little goats, all born between March and May 2022, from different people in the Winchester area. One I got to hold when he was only 2 days old! There were six Nigerian Dwarf (Asher, Cinder, Domino, Dice, Peanut, and Comet) and one mini-Nubian (Auris, long floppy ears), All were banded or castrated, making them wethers. Bucks are horribly stinky and have some pretty nasty habits, and I had no intention of breeding any of them. Wethers are much more docile and friendly. 

It took about 2 years, but the boys ate everything in the area that I fenced for them. So I had another area added using hardline electric fence. It took about 6 months for them to eat all of that, too! I had always had the idea of renting the goats out to clear land, but now I started looking into it more seriously. Then, serendipitously, I saw a Facebook post in 2022 by Blandy Experimental Farm (part of the University of Virginia) in Berryville. VA that they wanted to rent goats to clear an acre of land. I contacted them, found out how to bid, obtained a business license, insurance, a horse trailer and electric fencing and solar battery. I was in business! While waiting to get through the red tape, I trained the goats to the fencing and trailer and we practiced on my neighbors' property. The goats learned that when they got on the trailer, they were on their way to new food, and I learned how to put up the fence efficiently.

When we got to Blandy, the goats were a huge hit. People walking or driving the trails looked forward to seeing them and had their favorites. The goats seemed to enjoy seeing the people too. We didn't get set up until September into October, so many of the goats' favorite plants were not growing, but they still cleared a lot of growth. The goats returned home for the winter. 

In February 2023, a friend from church, Mark Gunderman, approached me about doing an article about my business. He published articles in two different publications, including the Royal Examiner in Front Royal, VA. and this led to the Winchester Star and the Northern Virginia Daily publishing articles! I started getting inquiries about renting them and they went on their first job in April. They kept busy into October and we had a lot of happy customers, and happy goats! During this time I acquired two more Nigerian Dwarf goats, Milo and Otis, that were the same age as the others. Unfortunately, one of the original goats, Asher, died of unknown causes one night. I was devastated because he was the one I held when he was two days old. My neighbors buried him for me on my land in Virginia. Loss is part of having animals, but it is never easy, and I still miss him.

In September 2023 my first grandchild was born in Chattanooga, so in early 2024 I started thinking about moving to be closer to my son and his family. It all progressed much faster than I expected, and I moved in to my new house on May 8. Yes, the day of the big storm! A couple of hours after the movers left, I lost power! My daughter and I unpacked some in the dark until she finally found a flashlight, so we could at least find the essentials. My son also lost power in Red Bank, but he was able to bring us some food, after navigating many closed roads. All of the animals were fine, except maybe my beagle who hates storms and howled all night! We got power back the next day, so unpacking could be done more quickly. Meanwhile, the goats were working hard on the woods I had fenced for them and have already finished everything! So they are very anxious to find work and new undergrowth to eat. Could your property be next?

Contact

The goats are always hungry! If you have underbrush to be cleared, contact me to set up a free estimate.

540-974-5433

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