Student Spotlight: Gareth Hemmings
April 21, 2017
After five years of experience with Nigerian goats and Welsh ducks, a homeschooled teen of suburban Spanaway indulges in a lifestyle choice he hopes to contribute too his adult years.
Gareth Hemmings is an 18-year-old care taker for two Nigerian goats and five Welsh ducks. This title was given to him five years ago when his mother started her months of research, insisting on getting the animals for the family.
“My mom talked about getting them, but it got serious when I started building the barn,” Hemmings said.
On a typical day, Hemmings wakes up at 7 a.m to open the barn to milk the goats and gather the eggs. “It took a long time for me to milk them, but then I got used to it,” he recalled. He then attends class and hangs out with his other siblings.
Although Hemmings has a way with animals, he did not grow up on a farm. Eight years ago his mother built a garden consisting of vegetables and herbs. “The garden is continuously growing,” Hemmings said.
Within Hemmings’ community there are other houses where he can see chicken wiring from his window. Hemmings said he can hear a rooster crowing from a house not far from his.
Hemmings consistently changes his mind about going into agriculture for himself. However, he said that if he were to do anything in relation, he would have a garden. “I think I would focus on gardening, and not so much with animals,” he said. “I feel like it’s too much to do both.”
Hemmings said that there is more that goes into just milking a couple of goats at home. He and his mother, who is a first generation owner, are on the “forefront” of everything, although they do have their family who helps out as well.
Hemmings and his family do not use machinery. Everything is done with hand tools and is natural. He clips the goats’ hooves, cleans the eggs, and in the summer time he cuts the goats’ hair to prevent them from overheating. Once a year, he helps the goats to breed.
Hemmings says that the animal smell isn’t too bad, but they do have a noise problem. “The hardest part is when they are screaming; you can’t do anything about it,” he said. “You have to just stay and hush them, and it gets really tiring.”
And after a hard day’s work, Hemmings is satisfied by drinking the goat milk after putting it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Hemmings does all the necessary tasks with the animals for his mother. “I’m honoring my mother’s wishes of having a farm; I love that she loves it.”