On my way to South Carolina last year, someone suggested I check out the small historical town of Pendleton, if I had time, for it wasn’t too far from where I was staying. On a Thursday afternoon I found myself on Route 88, which took me right to the center of this small town. It was nearing 4:00pm as I rounded a bend that led to the Village Green. There in front of me was a big banner reminding folks about the Pendleton Farmers Market, Thursdays at 4p – 6p, on the Village Green. Lynn and I looked at each other – let’s go!
At the market I discovered a wonderful new product I had never heard of before: goat milk fudge. It had won several top awards, as had the goat cheese that was also displayed on the table. I learned the farm was just a few miles away and the woman who offered samples suggested I go visit…which I’m glad I did, for I met goat farmer Evin J. Evans, of Split Creek Farm. When she was a teenager she had her first encounter with a goat, and as she tells people who ask ‘How come you got into goats?’ she answers, “I didn’t get into goats, they got into me.” She now has 350 goats of varying ages and she knows them all by name (none are ear-tagged by a number) on her small dairy farm.
With a background in animal science, she began breeding goats with the idea to breed better livestock, “so that every generation was better than the year before.” With all the breeding, there was a lot of milk being produced. She didn’t want to waste any of it, so she became a Grade A goat dairy in 1985. What followed was the cheese and the fudge which have won many awards. In fact, last year won a Gold medal at the World Championship Cheese contest in Madison, Wisconsin.
Coincidentally, while I was there, Cathy Payne of Our Natural Life came to purchase 2 goats for her new farm. I tagged along as Evans answered Cathy’s questions and showed her several wethers. Evans knew the history of each and it was evident she was attached to them all.
As Evans explains in the video, there is a price to be paid for her love of goats. A couple of years ago Evans was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This is sometimes referred to as farmers lung, which can develop after prolonged exposure to moldy straw or hay. In Evans’ case, her allergic sensitivity is due to contact with the goat’s proteins. “It’s been the biggest blow to my identity,” says Evans. “I tell people if I had been put in a room and asked to be as masochistic as I could be and write my own demise, that I couldn’t have come up with this diagnosis.”
Earlier this month she underwent a double lung transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina. As of today, she is making good progress in her recovery — far from her goats.
Evans plans on returning to the farm, and for the farm to continue production. Knowing her exposure to the goats will be less than it used to be, Evans’s doctors are working with her in order for this to happen.
We wish her all the best in her recovery.