In Norse mythology Asgaard was the dwelling place of the gods and of slain war heroes, ruled by Odin. But here in the Adirondacks it was the home of an amazing and inspiring artist… In the 1920s Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) chose a glorious spot in the Ausable River Valley for his home, farm and artist’s studio and he named it Asgaard Farm. As a printmaker and graphic artist I have long been inspired by Kent’s work. His paintings, murals, book plates and illustrations are wonderful. He was a true renaissance man and also extended his skills to writing… One of my favorites was his book, Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska.
Rockwell Kent passed away long before I moved to the North Country, and although I had seen it from a distance I had never made a pilgrimage to Asgaard Farm. Naturally, the farm has changed hands over the years since leaving the Kent family – and is now a working farm once more. At Asgaard Farm & Dairy they raise chickens, cows, pigs and goats, lots of goats. They sell products from the farm including wonderful goat cheese. In addition, you can stay at one of the guest houses on the farm.
(Special thanks to Shaun Heffernan / PHOTOPIA for all of the awesome goat photos!)
They are in the midst of kidding season right now! It’s a really awesome time to visit Asgaard and watch the goats give birth, pick up a baby bottle and feed a kid, or just walk around and enjoy the scenery. We went recently with our friend Cheri, and had the pleasure of watching the birth of two kids and feeding the youngsters.
The adult goats are all very curious and friendly. They have been brought up ‘by hand’ and receive lots of love and affection from staff and visitors alike. Past experiences with less friendly goats (don’t turn your back on them!) had me approaching warily. But my caution was unfounded. Even the two females in the throes of labor were sweet as pie and ready to receive scratches. The kids really wanted to be near us – I’m sure they associated us with food, but they were also just curious and enjoying the attention we showered on them.
When we arrived in the goat barn one female had already given birth to twins and another was ready to begin. Being in the barns for this miracle is not for the feint of heart. It is bloody and messy and amazing. The staff at Asgaard did an incredible job of caring for the females as they went through the birthing process, and of ensuring the live birth of the kids. It was inspiring to watch them work and to witness the process of animal birth.
Although it was a cold day we spent a few hours getting to know the goats and photographing them. Eventually I was handed a bottle and given brief instructions on feeding two of the kids – who were just hours old.
Perhaps it was the spirit of Rockwell Kent hovering around the place – but I began planning a woodblock print of one of the lovely female goats. She will have a glorious beard and I hope to convey the loving aura these gals exuded.