Josh Shaffer

For Valentine’s Day, some forgo the flowers and chocolates. They give the gift of goats.

On Valentine’s Day, the most memorable presents speak to the wildness of love, its animal quality, the fierceness of a beast unchained.

With this truth in mind, Spring Haven Farm in Chapel Hill offers this gift idea for sweethearts with a taste for the savage: goat-a-grams, the randiest holiday token.

For $100, farm owner Andrew Crihfield will arrive at your doorstep in a pair of overalls, toting Blue and May, a pair of 8-month-old Nubian goats. Also a bouquet of flowers – unless the goats eat them first.

To Crihfield and his family, nothing demonstrates lasting affection better than a hollow-horned mammal at play, an assurance that life is a romp.

“It’s definitely a romantic gesture,” said Crihfield. “Goats are really, really popular now. They’re funny. They’re curious. They’re fun to watch. I let them off the leash if it’s appropriate.”

The idea struck Crihfield, a network engineer turned organic farmer, as he considered new ways to monetize the hoofed residents of his barnyard.

He’d already held goat yoga sessions, in which his herd of 17 mingled among the practitioners, attempting downward-facing dog poses.

He’d invited the public for goat pumpkin-carving parties.

“You carve and the goats eat the innards,” Crihfield said. “It sold out for four weeks.”

Goat-a-grams seemed like a logical jump.

In Wyoming, the United Way raised money by sending kids at $30 apiece, also offering “goat insurance” that keep the animals from being delivered. In Oregon, Shrink Ray Farms provides a $125 “goatgram” service minus the hyphens.

As of Friday afternoon, Spring Haven had taken Blue and May on three successful 30-minute visits, one of them in an office building, with no incidents reported. Crihfield said anywhere in the Triangle is goat-a-gram territory.

For all their associations with temper tantrums, the occult and unsuccessful athletes, goats make for charming companions. A half-hour visit seems about ideal. My 11-year-old son and I spent Friday afternoon with the Spring Haven critters and, after 30 minutes, we’d said all we needed to say to each other.

As gifts go, flowers are fleeting beauties, wilting their way into the garbage can. Chocolate is a temporary delight, leaving unwanted mementos around the waistline.

But goats bring novelty to a holiday marked by cliche. They paint a truer portrait of love: bold and relentless, stubborn and hungry, cross-eyed and crazy.


To arrange a Valentine goat session, call Spring Haven Farm at 919-407-1806 or write See the Web site at