Kay Doby raises a breed of meat goats called Hot Shots. But in doing so, she revived her farm and transformed its production as well.
“It feels good to be able to see chickens out there, running around,” she says. “Before, the chickens were just in there [poultry houses]. Now you can call them and they come to you. They act like chickens are supposed to act, if you know what I mean!”
However, this picture is much different than then one she faced recently. Doby used to raise chickens for a large poultry company. The termination of a job not only left her with massive debt, but also big, vacant poultry houses. Doby looked into viable ways to craft a business using her existing structures and discovered opportunity in raising meat goats.
She joined the North Carolina Meat Goat Producers Cooperative and received a grant from the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA and the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund. The grant awarded helps former tobacco farmers in North Carolina fund innovative, sustainable agriculture projects.
For Doby, the grant financed everything to get Hot Shot Goat Farm up and running.
“It’s amazing,” she says. “RAFI helps farmers transition into something else, something new, something sustainable. I can finally do what I wanted to do on my own.”
Now Doby doesn’t feel guilt about the cramped birds in her houses. Her chickens run free and her goats graze nearby. She hugs them every morning, and they nuzzle her right back.
On Aug. 8, RAFI will host a Crop Hop square dance benefit at the Fearrington Barn in Pittsboro, N.C. All the proceeds will benefit small farms like Doby’s for innovative projects through RAFI’s Farm Sustainability Program.