Generations of dairy farmers have raised their cows in Whatcom County, but Ashton Beanblossom is a dairy farmer who has decided to take a new approach. She is the 4th generation to dairy on her family’s property, which was purchased in 1948, and she is the 1st generation to milk goats instead of cows!
After taking some time to travel, she realized that she had a “strong sense of belonging here in Whatcom County on our family’s farm.” However, she knew that if she was going to continue the family business, she would need to modify it.
“I love the agricultural community in Whatcom County with the dairies, berries, potatoes, beef and the many amazing small farms! The community is so great at supporting local farms and that has given me an opportunity to continue our family's farm by diversifying into a different market.” – Ashton Beanblossom
Today, Ashton is milking 95 goats of various breeds and raising another 110 doelings to join the herd in the next couple of years. She also helps manage hayland and a herd of 100 beef cows and calves with her retired parents. Making this transition from cow to goat dairying has been an exciting challenge over the last several years, and Whatcom CD has been honored to be a part of that transition.
“We are a generational farm but also a new farm because of our transition to being a goat dairy instead of a cow dairy. We have been milking goats since 2021 and we started working with the conservation district in 2022 with our first fence project being completed in spring of 2023. My parents have worked in the past with the conservation district on several manure management projects and they always had a great experience, so I knew if there was ever anything that I could partner up with the Whatcom CD that it would be beneficial to our farm.” – Ashton Beanblossom
Ashton was one of the first recipients of our new Sustainable Farms and Fields (SFF) grant program. SFF supports farmers to implement climate-smart practices. Through SFF, Ashton received free services — such as on-farm consultations, climate-smart farm planning, and other technical expertise — and financial assistance to help cover some of the cost of upgrading her fencing system for improved grazing.
“We have installed a rotational grazing plan for our goats and it has been beneficial for our land and our animals. Before working with the Conservation District we didn't have any fencing for the goats to be out on pasture but now we have 6 acres fenced off with movable electric netting fence to create grazing paddocks depending on the season and amount of grass. Rotational grazing is beneficial for our goats because it saves on hay, keeps the barn cleaner, helps with worm management and also is great for our land. The goats love being out on pasture with the fresh grass and soaking in the sun!” – Ashton Beanblossom
Rotational grazing systems help soil better store carbon. Overgrazing causes soil to be exposed, which leads to the release of carbon. Rotational grazing systems allow the soil and plants to recover between grazings, keeping the carbon in the soil. We look forward to working with her more as she continues to grow her goat dairy operation in balance with the environment.
“When working with the Conservation District staff, I was surprised with how simple the whole process was. I knew they would be helpful in accomplishing our farm's goals but I was surprised with how they went above and beyond to help our farm. It was always easy to reach out and have questions answered.” – Ashton Beanblossom
If you are beginning to transition your farming operation or are looking for technical assistance on your farm, you can contact a Whatcom CD Farm Planner today and schedule a free, confidential site visit. We offer $300 rebates or grants for $3000 to $100,000 to help implement best management practices like fencing, heavy use area upgrades, manure storage, and more.
"I have already recommended and will continue to recommend that farms work with the Whatcom CD for their own projects! I really have appreciated working with the Conservation District because they listened to what goals I have for my farm and they made the process really simple. They are a group of very kind people and they are passionate about partnering with farms of all sizes to help keep farming in our community.” – Ashton Beanblossom