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Family falls for goats
Spotsylvania family raises 'fancy goats'

 Abby Harold, 11, feeds Orion as Phil Dickinson, 9, pets Momma. The farm is home to a menagerie of animals.
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Date published: 7/24/2009

BY EDIE GROSS

Tree-cutting equipment rumbles next door, and a gaggle of kids shrieks and pinwheels through the yard.

Still, Eagle Cove Farm's miniature silky fainting goats, which swoon when startled, stand their ground.

Tossing their silky manes while ambling about the farm, they ignore the activity swirling around them.

They munch lazily on grass, eyeing a visitor with an expression that says, "We are not some two-bit tourist attraction. We do not perform on command."

Only when they're certain you're not looking do they allow their back legs to stiffen, their balance to wobble, hinting at the faints that have made their breed famous. But they do not fall over. These are show goats, and they have their pride.

"It's not as easy as you think" to encourage a fainting goat to faint, said Eagle Cove owner Keli Harold, who generally doesn't startle the goats on purpose.

A goat named Jiffy fainted once when he saw a needle meant for a sibling, she said.

Another faints for romance.

"Orion faints for girls," Harold said. "He's not an entertainer. It's all about the practicality with him."

PART OF THE FAMILY

Keli and Ron Harold and their four children have been raising the goats for the last five years in the southwest corner of Spotsyl- vania County. Ron's aunt, Cindy Rhoades, operates Just Kidding Fainters on the same property.

There are a dozen mini silkies between the two farms, tiny creatures whose luxurious coats have earned them ribbons and trophies at goat shows.

Though the genetic condition that makes them topple fuels their popularity on YouTube, mini silkies are plenty entertaining without the physical comedy.

There's Orion, who likes to chill out in front of a large fan. And the puffy-cheeked Jiffy, who likes to scrap with Buc-A-Roo.

There's Cassi, who's nosy as can be, and baby Fancy Pants, who bleats continuously if dinner is late.

There's the curly-topped Romeo, the resident snuggle-bug, and Patches, the lone master champion who struts about the farm, fully aware of his vaunted status.

Eagle Cove is also home to alpacas, horses, donkeys, chickens, dogs, cats and an affectionate, vocal turkey named Red Man.

"All of the animals are so sweet," said Keli Harold. "Each one adds so much to the family."

GOOD FOR THE KIDS

Before starting Eagle Cove in 2004, neither of the Harolds had a farming background.


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Miniature silky fainting goats, or mini silkies, are known for their long, sleek, terrier-like coats. Unlike other goats, they're not much for climbing or jumping fences. Their calm, loving temperaments make them popular with families.

For information about the breed or upcoming shows, visit the Miniature Silky Fainting Goat Association's Web site at msfgaregistry.com.

To learn more about Eagle Cove Farm in Spotsylvania County, visit eaglecovefarm.com.