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Goats and Hot Tubs Breathe New Life Into Ancient Vermont Farm
Capricorn Farms in Newfane, Vermont is thriving as a goat farm and sustainable sauna/hot tub business.
An ancient sheep farm, which most likely saw its peak during the wool boom of the early 1800s, is operating once again as Capricorn Farms. About 250 Boer goats now roam the 200-acre parcel year-round, guarded by two pure-white Maremma sheep dogs from Italy. Three emus and a handful of exotic African hens graze the land as well.
“I’ll find old pottery shards after rainstorms, and there are a few ancient cellar holes and long stretches of stone walls remaining,” says Jeff Kane, Capricorn’s owner. Kane said the property was periodically logged after the sheep farm dissolved, until he purchased it 10 years ago. The logging left lots of younger flora growing on the forest floor, perfect for hungry goats. Goats are “browsers”
“The goats have plenty to eat,” says Kane, who eventually sells the goats for meat that is served at high-end restaurants in New York City. “They’re very happy goats. They range freely over the mountain all day and come back to the barn every night.”
That barn, built by hand with wood harvested from pine trees on the farm, turned out to be the seedling of another business for Kane.
“Mark and Jeff [Kane’s two employees who take care of the animals and maintain the farm] are very skilled craftsmen. They gathered and milled all the wood right here at Capricorn, and it got me thinking ‘why not build a sauna while we’re at it?’” Within a few months, Kane had a hand-built, wood-fired sauna perched beside a pond on the farm.
Then, Kane thought, “why not build wood-fired hot tubs, too?” With that, Vermont Sauna and Hot Tubs was created. With their portable saw mill and new found passion for sustainably-
“We pride ourselves on our low carbon footprint,” says Kane, adding that wood-fired tubs and saunas require no electricity or fossil fuels to heat.
Kane plans to continue farming Boer goats as Vermont Sauna and Hot Tubs grows. The demand for organic, free-range goat meat in the area, he says, exceeds supply.
“I’m not sure the shepherds two centuries ago could have envisioned a steaming hot tub surrounded by goats on top of this mountain,” laughs Kane, with his sheep dog, Luka, at his side. “It makes me wonder what will be here in another 200 years.”
Watch a video about Vermont Sauna and Hot Tub at http://youtu.be/
For more information about Vermont Sauna and Hot Tub, visit http://www.VTsauna.com.
For more information about Capricorn Farm, visit http://www.vt-
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Vermont Sauna and Hot Tub, based in Newfane, Vermont, has been constructing saunas, hot tubs, barns, bespoke outhouses, treehouses and outbuildings since 1998. We use on-site trees for construction!