Goat farm enables couple to get away from it all

Lisa Hast and her husband, Jason, co-owners of Little Foot Farms in Balm, hold Gizmo, a 12-week-old goat who will soon head to a new home. LOIS KINDLE PHOTOS

A city girl had no idea she’d fall in love with a country boy…and in love with the country life.

By LOIS KINDLE

When Lisa McCorkle met Jason Hast in South Tampa six years ago, she didn’t know she was about to fall in love with a country boy.

“He was a Midwest farm kid from Moline, Ill., said Lisa, vice president of sales at East Bay Insurance, the company her mother founded in Apollo Beach almost 45 years ago. “I grew up in Ruskin, and at the time I thought I’d like to live in a condo in Ybor City.”

But Jason had another idea.

“I wanted out of the city, the hustle and bustle. I wanted peace, space and quiet,” he said.

Lisa decided she did, too. She married Jason in 2013.

Two years ago, the couple purchased a home on three acres off S.R. 672 in Balm, and before they knew it, they were raising goats.

“We had no intention to farm, but the two acres in the back were overgrown,” Lisa said. “Our real estate agent made an off-the-cuff remark about getting a couple of goats, and that started Jason to thinking.”

The seeds for Little Foot Farms were sown.

“We bought a pair of 4-month-old twins we named Barney and Bailey to be our lawnmowers,” Lisa said, smiling.

Shortly after, the baby goats were attacked by a neighbor’s dogs. Bailey had to be put down and Barney nursed back from her injuries.

Jasmine, a Nigerian dwarf goat, peeps from behind a tree at Little Foot Farms as her 9-week-old kid, Pants, grazes in front of her.

The Hasts subsequently decided they needed a farm dog and acquired a Great Pyrenees- and Anatolian Shepherd-mix puppy named Ruger.

Now 18 months old, the huge dog is responsible for keeping safe a herd of seven adult Nigerian dwarf goats, several Katahdin hair lambs and a flock of 14 chickens. He lives outside with them all and patrols the property at night.

“He keeps away intruders, predators like foxes, bobcats and snakes,” said Jason, owner of Dream Makers Events & Catering. “He also keeps out people who don’t belong.”

The Hasts also have six chihuahuas.

“The two baby goats we had recently were sold as pets,” Lisa said.

Lisa said raising goats and lambs with no experience requires a steep learning curve. But Plant City veterinarian Larry Britt, whose specialty is farm animals, taught them just about everything they know about feeding and caring for them, including some potential health issues.

“We vaccinate and worm them, trim their hooves and take care of them together,” Lisa continued. “They eat goat texture, hay, land refuse and food scraps. They’ll eat anything.”

Despite all the work that’s involved, including Jason’s need to walk the property each day to look for fence damage and building shelters for their animals, both enjoy farm life.

And they’ve learned to love their four-legged friends.

“In many respects, they are like puppies,” Lisa said. “They’re very social; they like people and other animals. Whenever either of us are outside, they follow us wherever we go. You could actually make them house pets, not that we would choose to.”

Sophia, a breeding female Katahdin Hair lamb, left, waits while her stud, Jefferson, checks out a baby goat named Gus, the newest member of the Little Foot Farms herd.

The land and animals give the Hasts a break from the pressure-filled world of the city.

“We’re accidental farmers,” Lisa said. “Having (the animals) is a way for us to get back to a simpler life. We do this because it’s something we enjoy together, and it’s a way for us to be good stewards of our land. Nothing is wasted; every food biproduct goes out to them.”

To learn more about Little Foot Farms or to inquire about purchasing a pet goat or lamb, visit http://bit.ly/2sTtyDe or call 813-690-4850.

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