Yep, you heard that right. Goats! My husband and I took our 19 month old daughter on her first backpacking trip this summer with the help of our goat babies, Ace and Millie. The best part of it all was getting to document one of the most fun experiences so that we can always look back with bright memories. As a wedding photographer I am always documenting others greatest moments. To be able to photograph life experiences for my own family was such a joy. I can’t wait to share how fun this trip was with you!
When making plans for this trip we got a lot of surprised comments from friends and family . . . Taking a toddler backpacking? You’re crazy! Taking goats with you? That’s so cool! Other than being a cool choice, goats have so many strengths that make them ideal for backpacking.
Goats have a strong herd instinct and will follow you without much coaching. They also can carry a pack which can help lighten your load or allow you to bring a bit more gear for added comfort. Plus, they are so fun to have around!
I grew up with lots of animals, including a goat or two. Our first goat, Joe was an Alpine breed, a medium sized goat that got pretty big in my 9 year old eyes. I liked him but his lopsided horns intimidated me. Goats are innately playful and head-butt for fun but for a little kid… not so fun. When I was around 12 yrs old I decided to sell Joe in order to buy two pygmy goats, without my father’s knowledge (maybe my mom knew… I can’t remember).
I made my own sales flyer and posted it in our local grocery store. Within a few days we got an offer. My dad wasn’t too amused, but went along with the sale (aren’t dad’s the greatest?) Soon after, I had two baby pygmy goats and my love for goats grew and grew. I learned that they can be quite comparable to a dog, they can be cuddly and loyal too! In fact, my parents had a goat a few years ago that hung out with our dog, I’m not sure he realized he was a goat, he acted just like our dog and would try to do everything the dog did.
I highly recommend getting a goat or two, they just add so much to life!
Meet Ace & Millie
These two Nubian/Alpine siblings are 2 years old. Ace has the white face and Millie the dark brown face. They did a fantastic job on their first backpacking trip. Ace is the more dominate, playful one. He often head-butts Millie over and over without a rebuttal. Millie is the chill/ quiet one, so she just takes it or walks away.
Yes, We Brought Our Toddler
Our first plan was to leave Jane home and make it a date, but as plans progressed we just couldn’t leave her behind. Not because we just couldn’t stand a night without her, but we really wanted Jane to have this experience. Personally, our biggest goal as parents is to provide our children with as many experiences as possible, we know the variety and difficulty will serve them well as they grow more and more independent. So we switched gears and started to prepare for our adventure to include little miss Jane.
Although bringing a toddler has it’s challenges, it was so worth it! I loved getting to make memories with my husband and Jane on this adventure. As well as getting to photograph life experiences with them. When I look back at our photos I am reminded of the fun we had together and how this backpacking adventure strengthened our bonds. But even better than that, as my daughter grows up she will be able to look back at these photos. Although she may not remember this trip, she can live through these images and reminisce with us.
What Gear Made It Possible.
The goats packing some of the gear made it possible for us to bring our toddler and the gear necessary for comfortable sleeping (well, as comfortable as backpacking can be). The first thing we got figured out were the packs for Ace and Millie, they took our pads, pillows and sleeping bags. Having them carry these lightweight bulky items allowed us to have more room in our packs.
My hubby carried Jane in this Osprey carrier that has lots of pockets and room for a water bladder. Jane loved riding in this carrier, it allowed her to sit comfortably and see where we were going. We have other carriers like the LilleBaby and Solly which we love for other purposes. But, the Osprey carrier was the perfect choice for backpacking!
I carried the rest of our gear in my Cotopaxi Nepal Pack. This has been my favorite backpacking pack. It’s super comfortable and has lots of pockets to fit all the gear you need. In my pack I had our JetBoil Stove, food, toiletries, warm jammies for all of us and our tent. This Kelty tent has been the best purchase. We love that it is made up of mainly screen so we can see all around us at night. It allows us to star gaze, as well as quickly see what is making those strange noises at night!
To photograph life experiences is to capture the sweet moments, nervous excitement, and all the people who surrounded you with love. We had such a wonder time backpacking with our goats. It took a lot of planning and work to make it happen, but it was well worth it! The views were stunning and the time together was even better. And for those wonder, Jane and the goats loved it too!