Running of the goats at Lake Wylie, SC, farm
As more open land space turns into developments in the Lake Wylie area, a piece of farming came back in view this summer.
On the 7 acre at 3972 Hands Mill Highway south of Five Points, a herd of goats graze in pastureland near the edge of Bethelfields neighborhood.
“I’ve been around livestock all my life,” said Steve Currence, “and goat farming requires very little acreage.”
A fourth generation dairy and beef cattle farmer, the 64-year-old said he has always had a few goats around. In 2008, he sold the last of his cattle at 4 Bar C Farms and switched entirely to goat farming. Now he owns about 100 goats.
“People ask me if I’m the goat lady,” said wife Kathy.
Currence mainly uses the goats for breeding and sales. A few billy goats are close to 3 years old, and he thinks he will keep them around for three more years. He will keep the nanny goats on the farm as long as they produce milk and are good for breeding. When they reach 80 or 90 pounds, Currence sells the goats at the Chester stockyard, or in Greer and Shelby, N.C.
Although he has a part-time helper on the farm, Currence does the wrangling himself and gives them their shots.
“I’m an old cowboy,” he said.
His wife helped on the farm, even delivering a calf, but not as much with the goats.
“I’m just a city girl who watches him work his livestock,” she said. “I helped him hay one year, and I’d never worked so hard in my life. That’s when I got a brand new respect for the farmer. They work very hard every day, all day.”
The couple met in Lancaster, Pa., at a New Holland cattle auction surrounded by Amish farms. He was a livestock broker then.
“He loves his animals,” his wife said. “When they are sick, he becomes very upset.”
Yellow tags pinned to the goats’ ears identify each one.
“They’re not pets, and I don’t name them, Currence said. “And I tell people this is not a petting zoo. This is a farm.”
Still his granddaughter has named two of the littlest goats - one yearling is Peanuts, and the other is Butter. Currence recalled a story from his youth. His mother had two matching containers brimming with petunias.
“We had a goat that ran around the yard like a dog,” he said. “And one day when Momma returned home from church, that goat had eaten all of her flowers. And we called her Petunia from then on.”
Currence comes from a long line of farmers. His great grandfather owned 5,000 acres of farmland that stretched along Highways 274 and 49, where Hands Mill Road meets Charlotte Highway. The property was split eight or nine ways among the heirs, Currence said.
Through the years, Currence has sold pieces of his farm. His brown, wood-framed family house with a circular driveway and wrap-around porch with Adirondack chairs is now surrounded by subdivisions. He sold land for Bethelfields in 2000. Most recently, he sold land being developed by Mattamy Homes for King’s Grove under construction.
“(I) was born and raised right here in this house,” he said.
Now, the rest of the Currence property - including the goat farm land and house - is for sale and zoned for commercial space.
“We will build our home as close to (Lake Wylie) as possible, and he will continue to have his livestock,” his wife said.
Bessie Meeks of Lake Wylie is a freelance writer.