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Children Milk Goats at Newberry Branch Library

Over half a dozen dairy goats were skipping around and nibbling on the fingers of children outside of the Newberry Branch Library Wednesday afternoon.

Carolina, Sara and Laurel were among the baby goats met by eager children who ran toward the grassy lot next to the library.

Sitting on floral linen sheets, the young Newberry residents cradled and squeezed the farm animals. Some of them were soaking up their first encounter with goats.

Once a year, the library hosts a free interactive workshop to teach children about goats. Catherine Whiteacre, who owns Whiteacre's Dairy Goats, approached the library with the idea five years ago, on a mission to introduce children to the farm animals and teach them where milk comes from.

"To actually put your hand on the goat and milk them should be done early in life," Whiteacre said. "Kids are growing up now with no concept of where food comes from or what they would do if they didn't have a supermarket."

During the event, Whiteacre taught brave guests how to milk one of the large parent goats named Vogue.

The kids also learned how to bottle-feed the goats, often fumbling with the bottles as they kept up with the goats' eager appetites.

One child, James, lit up with excitement as he got to ride on Vogue's back.

"To see that face light up just ecstatic, that there's milk that's coming out of this animal -- and he looks up there like 'Where's it coming from?' -- that was priceless," Whiteacre said.

Parents of the event were eagerly snapping photos, allowing their children to embrace the raw encounter with farm life.

"For them to be able to milk a goat, which they wouldn't normally get to do, is a good experience for them I think," said Tara Ludovici, the mother of two children from Newberry. "It gets them out of their comfort zone a little bit, learning about something they don't usually get to see."

It was her second time coming to the event with her children, who frequently attend storytime events at the library.

Ludovici said her two children love being able to play and have fun with the goats because they're used to playing indoors and don't have the opportunity to see the farm animals.

Librarian Cindy Bruckman has been a part of the events since they began, and said every time has been a success.

She said she never gets tired of it.

"What's important is that they're have fun and they're learning," librarian Bruckman said. "To us, that's a success."

Kelsey is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.