Imagine it now: You’re holding a yoga pose in a serene pasture, surrounded by lush greenery and a babbling creek. The rest of the class is focused on their own meditation and posture– until a goat runs across someone’s lap, or jumps on your shoulder.
This is what yoga is like at Goat Boat Farm: scenic, non-traditional, sometimes absurd, and above all, a heck of a good time.
“We used to joke it was like a goat massage because you lay on the ground and the goats just jump on you,” says Owner Nicole Schierberl . “It’s so much fun– like way more than you would ever expect.”
Situated just south of Lake Whatcom, Goat Boat Farm is a 15-acre homestead owned by Nicole Schierberl and her husband Jon Paulson. When the property came up for sale in 2014, they decided to make longtime farming ambitions a reality– only to discover that the land had been left in a state of disarray.
An overgrowth of blackberry bushes led Sheirberl and Jon Paulson to a unique solution: goats. Even though they had never previously owned livestock, the couple purchased four of them (and fell in love with each one).
“Molly– she died last year, so I still get all sad– she was our mom goat, and she was the best. She was like a dog,” Schierberl says. “Every goat we have now, she’s either their great-grandma or great-great-grandma.”
In 2017, Schierberl teamed up with a local yoga teacher to offer classes on the property. She was blown away by the response; after all, it’s hard not to make memories when you’re holding warrior II amid a herd of furry new friends. Schierberl says participants would regularly cry in class, whether that be from a feeling of connection or pure, old-fashioned happiness.
Baby goat yoga went on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Schierberl has plans to bring it back (with a slightly more limited class size) in the summer of 2022. To experience the goats sans yoga, Goat Boat will also offer “meet-and-greets” in which visitors can explore the property, lounge by the creek, collect eggs, and (of course) play with the eponymous baby goats.
Visitors can also pick flowers during their meet-and-greet, and each goat yoga participant is sent home with a bouquet. These sustainably grown blooms– another Goat Boat specialty– are available for purchase at the Sudden Valley Market and Bellingham Co-Op from April through October.
Beyond goats and flowers, Goat Boat also offers pasture-raised pork and hand-crafted jewelry. Schierberl was inspired to take metalsmith classes after rewiring her home left her with an abundance of copper. Now, her elegant designs (made from copper or sterling silver) can be purchased via the Goat Boat Farm website.
“I always joke that it’s my winter sanity work,” Schierberl says. “It keeps me busy in the winter and gives me a creative outlet. And then flowers and farming and hosting events and whatnot is more spring and summer.”
For the full Goat Boat experience, yoga and meet-and-greets can both be booked through Airbnb. Baby goat yoga is open to experienced yogis, newcomers, and anyone in need of a serotonin boost– because, if you ask Schierberl, a surprising amount of joy shines through when the pretense of seriousness is broken. Bellingham, goatboatfarm.com