Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lilian's Goats

Carl Sandburg, noted biographer of Lincoln, poet, lecturer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author was already famous when he moved to Flat Rock, NC. He and his wife Lilian lived on a farm in the Blue Ridge mountains for more than 2o years, until their deaths.

It was Lilian who found the farm, already named Connemara. She was searching for the ideal place, large enough for raising her prize-winning goats and sufficiently secluded for Sandburg's writing. Lilian Steichen had married Carl (then called Charles) Sandburg in Milwaukee, WI. Both were active members of the Wisconsin Social-Democratic Party, a party whose platform included uniform suffrage, free textbooks for schools, worker benefits, and child labor laws. They met at the Party headquarters.

While a writer and poet herself, Lilian's legacy was a prize-winning goat herd. She became famous in her own right for her goats which she started raising in Michigan. Seeking a better climate (as well as a place where Sandburg could write) she chose Western NC. She improved the herd and had a thriving milk and cheese business. She became well-known for her ability to genetically select and produce improved goats.

The goats living at Connemara today are descendents of the very goats that Lilian Sandburg raised. There are three types of goats: the Toggenburgs (which are tan and white); the Saanens (which are all white), and the Nubians (which are multi-colored with long, floppy ears). Guests are allowed to visit the goats in the pasture and barn. They are indeed wonderful creatures.

[No, I am not an expert on goats. The three types of goats are listed in brochures and pictures. In fact, I didn't even know that a female goat was a doe; I always thought "nanny goat" was the proper term.]

Here are some photographs of Lilian's goats. The kids are kept separately in the barnyard, while the adults are free to roam the pastures.

Carl Sandburg died in 1967, at home. Lilian died in 1977. The Sandburg family sold the farm to the National Park Service and donated all the contents of the home. Last year, additional acreage was purchased to preserve the quiet serenity of Connemara. The home, a National Historic Site is open to the public daily, except for Christmas Day.

Oh, and it won't be open to the public tomorrow afternoon. Laura Bush is coming for a visit. Funny, I didn't get my invitation. Must have been lost in the mail.


Cicero Sings said...

My husband's family had a few goats once ... but not for long! Rascals they were ... ate what you didn't want them to eat and ignored the things you wanted them to eat ... besides jumping on cars and climbing trees etc, etc. The little goats are really cute though.

Enjoyed the history lesson ... sounds like an interesting outing! ... and I can't understand why you didn't get an invite to this afternoon's affair?

100 Thoughts of Love said...

I have always heard goats can be annoying, but the sure are cute...In all my visits to NC, I have never been to Connemara, I will have to do that next time!

The Birdlady said...

How lovely! They are so very cute and funny. (And I know even less - friends of mine got a couple of goats there, and I thought they were called Connemara You must have enjoyed this shoot. - I certainly did. And yeah, I know all about the Atlanta airport - zI lived in Atl the "second third" of my life(you figure it out - I'm not saying) and worked right at the sirport for 6 years. It was not this busy at that time, but it was getting there!

Kerri Farley said...

Oh I LOVE goats! I didn't know a female was a doe either!
What a bunch of cuties these are.

troutbirder said...

Our neighbors have goats and we watch them regularly. The kids are so cute. I'm thinking I visited Sandburg's boyhood home in Illinois some time ago but can't remember exactly where.....

Mary said...

You make me laugh! No invitation from Laura?

I didn't know Carl Sandburg wrote and lived in NC. Another piece of NC history for me!

I like goats. My husband's twin sister raised two mountain (Alpine?) goats on a farmette in northeastern MD. Wilbur and Webber chewed our shoelaces, jumped on the hood and trunks of vehicles (unsupervised), and gave us head butts (knocking us over), just for the fun of it. Those were fun days. Thanks for those memories :o)


KGMom said...

Great looking goats. They always look so knowing. I think it's something in their eyes!

MicheleRF said...

Great background story and pics too!

Jayne said...

What a neat place. I work with a guy who raises goats, and they seem to always be so special to the people who raise them. Nice that this place remains as a legacy to the Sandburgs. Sweet photos of Lilian's goats. :c)

Ruth said...

I seldom see goats around here. I love your pictures and little historical journey.

NCmountainwoman said...

Cicero - These goats were remarkably tame. Laura Bush did come today, but not my invitation.

Pat - Connemara is a great place to spend the day.

Helen - I'll bet those were expensive goats.

Kerri - Yes, I thought the kids were adorable.

Troutbirder - You are correct. Sandburg's boyhood home is in Galesburg, IL. The Sandburg's ashes are buried there under Remembrance Rock in the garden.

Mary - I waited all day for a phone call from Laura Bush. It didn't come.

Donna - I agree, they do look very wise, as if they have a collective secret.

Michele - thanks

Jayne - It is a lovely place. We go there several times a year, walking the trails and wandering around.

Ruth - Glad you enjoyed seeing the goats.

Leedra said...

Enjoyed the goats. Blogging is a lot more educational than we thought when we started this adventure. We end out researching what we don't know about the photos we are posting. My neighbor kept kidding me about getting goats, until he realized it would just give me something else of his to photograph.

Dave said...

Dave - My mother was friends with Lilian Sandburg. They had goats in common. They used to visit each other often. My mother also bred purebred goats. We lived eighteen miles from the Sandbug home in Columbus N.C. I often helped Mrs. Sandburg when we attended goat shows each year. In 1952 I had dinner at the Sandburg home. Carl Sandburg sat on my right and protected me from my mother's ire whenI made some little mistake of etiqquet.