Chris Bishop | @quippedmediallc
In 2018, Shaelee Swisher and her family bought their first goat, Elsa. Before long, Swisher fell in love with Elsa, and all animals. A year later, she began her business: goat yoga.
Swisher’s business, Loving the Farm, offers goat twister, goat hikes, animal rentals and animal grams, or play time with the animals, as well as goat milk soaps. Goat yoga is taught by Martha Peebles and is a unique way to exercise and relax at the same time.
As a junior in high school, Swisher created her business because she wanted more goats, but her father said she needed to find a way to make money to cover the expenses of keeping the animals.
“He told me that if I were to get more goats that I would have to find a way for them to pay for themselves. So we looked into goats and we ended up getting kinder goats which are a dual purpose, meat, milk, breed, and while they’re babies, we decided that our friend in Tenn. did goat yoga […] and was like, ‘You all should try it,’” Swisher said.
She said that her interest in animals began in 4-H club, where she would go to the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds and speak to kids about farm animals.
“We’d go through and we’d talk about simple things like, where does your milk come from and chickens lay eggs and things like that […] I felt like people were kind of out of touch with where their food comes from and to educate people in that aspect and the animals on the farm is really what I like to do,” Swisher said.
She said that some of her favorite memories and experiences with her business come from being with the animals and people during the sessions.
“Whenever I have people come out and see the animals, you know, it’s a really unique experience, and you can just see the kids’ faces light up as they get to pet the animals for the first time or hold one all by themselves,” Swisher said.
Her long-term goals include starting a farm on her own and setting up a family-friendly, educational experience for her customers to learn about animals. She is focused on the community and how to best share her passion for animals with it.
“We’re here to share the love of the animals with them,” Swisher said.
Staff Photographer Sophie Whitten can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram @swittenphotography.
To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.