Nittany Meadow Farm co-owner Mike Immel holds Pearl aboard the Goats2Go bus on South Fraser Street at State College on Friday, November 18. Photo by Geoff Rushton | StateCollege.com
Do you need stuffed animals for baby goats? Nittany Meadow Farm now brings them directly to you.
The Boalsburg court is known for its popularity Goat Yoga Classes and Visiting Experiences has started Goats2Goa small converted bus that brings baby goats to cuddle and play at local parties and events.
Nittany Meadow Farm owners Tara and Mike Immel developed the idea after attending the Goat Yoga Classes (that’s yoga while the sociable animals run and jump around you) inquired about bringing baby goats to birthday parties and other events.
“We didn’t really have a way to transport them other than in a livestock trailer, which isn’t great for young goats,” Tara Immel said. “Mike and I put our heads together and said, ‘What’s the best way to get her somewhere?’ A goat bus, of course. We were throwing around some ideas of what to do with the interior. Our goal was to create a barn on wheels so it feels like you are in a mini barn.”
Goats2Go was seen next to the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on South Fraser Street at State College on Friday afternoon where a tape cutting for the bus was taking place Happy Valley Adventure, a joint initiative of the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau and CBICC to promote agritourism. Community members had the opportunity to board the bus and spend some time with the baby goats.
The bus can accommodate up to six adults or six children and two adults at the same time. At the back is a small pen that Mike Immel opened to the delight of the goats and visitors.
“We can take her pretty much anywhere as long as we have a parking space,” Tara Immel said. “The goats will not leave the bus. Everyone gets on the bus; they are included. We can do it in any weather. Goats don’t like rain. They don’t love the snow. They don’t mind the cold, but they don’t like really hot weather. That way it doesn’t matter what we do outside. We have air conditioning and heating so we can use that depending on the time of year.”
On the bus, the goats sought people’s attention, sometimes pawing at their legs like a puppy to be picked up for a cuddle.
Goats are “naturally happy animals” who generally like people, Tara Immel said. Still, they need some training to get used to being held.
“It’s work for us, but it’s fun. It’s really enjoyable work,” she said. “We take care of them from the second they are born. We are present at the births and start with the care and acclimatization right away. Once they are a few weeks old we allow visitors to come in and interact with them and they get used to being around people. They get used to being around noise and noise so they don’t get scared easily. We try to make it as good an experience for them as it is for the people who visit them.”
Community members can use Goats2Go for parties, events, or “if they just want us to bring the goats to them for a while,” Immel said. Nittany Meadow Farm also plans to bring it to festivals and other community events, including some special events for the holiday season.
The baby goats will be accompanied by Santa Claus on the bus on December 10th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m Rooted homestead138 Scott Avenue, Bellefonte.
“We will charge a small fee to allow people to board the bus. We like to take photos for them and they visit Santa Claus and the kids,” said Immel. “It’s not limited to children. Children are welcome but I know there are some adults who would like to see the goats and also visit Santa Claus.”
Nittany Meadow Farm is also working with Downtown Bellefonte Inc. on a similar opportunity at the winter market at Talleyrand Park on December 11, although plans have yet to be finalized.
Goats2Go was made possible with help from Happy Valley Agventures, who awarded a $2,000 grant in May to support the bus’s retrofit. The farm also received a $9,000 grant to build goat milk facilities.
You were among them 28 scholarships awarded through a program supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which is part of Happy Valley Agventures’ ongoing efforts to support agritourism in Center County.
“Exactly what the grant program was designed to do was to encourage this type of activity,” said HVAB President and CEO Fritz Smith. “They’ve been doing goat yoga at Nittany Meadow Farm for a while and have had a lot of requests from people to bring them the goats. This vehicle purchase so they can do that is a perfect example of what the grant program was trying to achieve.”
Smith added that Goats2Go is a creative way to expand farming attractions in the county.
“I think it’s the most creative,” he said. “Agritourism has a big definition and I think we just keep expanding it. Ultimately, it will pay off for Center County’s economy and help attract more visitors as we create more engaging packages and experiences.”
For visitors interacting with the goats at Nittany Meadow Farm, Tara Immel says the experience is all about one thing.
“Joy,” said Immel. “People are like, ‘What a great mental health break. it makes me so happy I haven’t “laughed like that” in a long time when we do yoga. You just see the joy on everyone’s faces when they hold a baby goat, when they cuddle them, when they watch them do their silly goat zooms and jump and hop around.
“You can’t get upset when you’re with a baby goat.”