For The Love of Goats
Because we live so close to the ocean, we often consider a getaway to the sea. But there is another great place to retreat that’s just a day trip away. Ocala and Florida’s interior, with rolling hills and pasturelands, may be just the dose of fresh air you need for rejuvenation.
There are many reasons to love Ocala. For starters, it’s a short drive from Silver Springs State Park, one of the Florida’s oldest attractions and the home of Glass Bottom Boat tours. Saturday mornings you will find a farmers’ market in downtown Ocala’s public square. Looking for picnic supplies or a quick lunch? Check out Stella’s Modern Pantry, a favorite local eatery just off the square. Officially named the Horse Capital of the World in 2007, Ocala has indeed produced a spate of equestrian champions raised on verdant farms.
But if goats are more your speed (and they are pretty darn adorable, aren’t they?) your visit to this unlikely traveler’s destination would be remiss without a stop at Long Hammock Organics farm.
Ashley Leibe, owner of Long Hammock, has created a 15-acre setting on this former horse farm that reflects her lifelong belief in providing for the happiness of her animals. Besides dairy goats, Leibe raises chickens, has nine supers of bees and is contemplating the possibility of adding alpacas. Located in Summerfield, just outside Ocala, at any one time Long Hammock may host 100 Nubians, La Manche and other varieties of dairy goats on the farm, with up to 25–30 being permanent residents.
Since she bought the property in 2003, Leibe has slowly cultivated an oasis, not only for her animals but for people as well. She established a nonprofit enterprise that allows children with developmental challenges an opportunity to interact with the goats and chickens. The kids (both human and goat) play together, while Leibe teaches visitors about life on the farm.
“It’s so wonderful to see the children respond and have fun with the goats. And of course the goats love the attention,” said Leibe. “Goats are such intelligent barnyard animals.”
In addition to being goodwill ambassadors, Leibe’s dairy goats are busy providing milk for her all-natural soaps, lotion bars and cheese. “The milk is so nutritious, and is wonderful to use in baked goods,” Leibe said. She also offers goats for sale as pets, and is enthusiastic about their capability of keeping weeds and brush under control (though you should probably check zoning regulations in your neighborhood before you bring home a living lawn mower). If all this weren’t enough to keep Long Hammock buzzing, Leibe also harvests honey from her hives and uses the beeswax to produce organic lip balms.
“Everything I make comes from the animals on the farm,” she said. “It’s all organic and interconnected.”
Many of us dream longingly of growing the good life on a farm in the country, but if you are not ready to make that leap, spending a day in Florida’s interior at Long Hammock Organics may be just the bucolic getaway you need.
Floral Design : Becky Cardenas with The Wilding Collective
Baked Goods + Food Styling : Marisa Carta Ratliff with Sweet ’N’ Flour
Hair Styling : Casey Powell with Modern Classic Beauty
Makeup Artistry : Sara Jane Buttner with Blush & Mane
Signage + Hand Lettering : Mary Kate Moon with marykatemoon
Attire : Shop Gossamer / Free People / Urban Outfitters / Violet Riverside
Models : Conner Ann Waterman / Victoria Monronta