John Fielding cares for his goats at his Old Town home, located at 12th and Oak streets. Fielding is hoping the city will change its ordinance restricting goats to lots of at least half an acre.

Photo by John F. Russell

John Fielding cares for his goats at his Old Town home, located at 12th and Oak streets. Fielding is hoping the city will change its ordinance restricting goats to lots of at least half an acre.

Downtown couple asks Steamboat to allow goats in city

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John Fielding cares for a pair of goats at his Old Town home in Steamboat Springs.

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The Fieldings have two goats and more than 40 chickens on their property.

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John Fielding speaks at his Old Town home, located at 12th and Oak streets. Fielding is hoping the city will change its current ordinance restricting goat to lots of at least half an acre.

— The eclectic Fielding residence at 12th and Oak streets is home to five humans, five dogs, two goats and more than 40 chickens, including about 25 fledglings.

The humans and the dogs are within city regulations for the Fieldings’ plot of about one-third of an acre. The goats and chickens are not.

John Fielding is spurring an effort to change that — for the goats, anyway.

Steamboat Springs code enforcement officer Barb Wheeler confirmed last week that she’s gathering information for an ordinance that would allow a limited number of goats in an increased number of city residential areas. City regulations allow as many as five goats on lots of a half-acre or larger in residential estate zones. Wheeler said her goal “is to allow less goats in more areas,” through an ordinance that could enter the public city review process in spring.

John and Holly Fielding cite numerous benefits of the animals, including their milk and the therapeutic advantages for their two adopted children, Justin, 8, and Joey, 10. Holly is lactose intolerant but can drink goats’ milk.

John said health is the best benefit.

“The ability to produce one’s own food is not simply an economic advantage nor a resourcefulness advantage, but the food that one is able to produce and consume in its unprocessed condition is far, far healthier — it’s the living food aspect,” Fielding said, citing enzymes found in raw goats’ milk, which can’t be bought at Colorado grocery stores.

Wheeler said a couple of other residents also have inquired about goat regulations, causing her to dig into some research.

“I’m learning all kinds of things about goats. They’re amazing, they really are,” Wheeler said. “The biggest question that is coming up … is fencing, because they are notorious for getting out.”

John and Holly Fielding appear to have that issue handled. Fenced enclosures in their backyard lead to the plastic-covered, greenhouse-style domain of Ripple and Caprecious, two female goats that share space with about 25 fledgling hens, not yet able to lay eggs. Caprecious’ name is a blend of “precious” and “capricious,” references to the goat’s personality.

“This is the chickens’ winter range, right here. And the goats’ winter range,” Fielding said last week, as the animals roamed and snacked inside the enclosure that’s familiar to passers-by on Oak Street.

A few feet away in the Fieldings’ yard is a chicken coop with 23 laying hens and a doghouse that’s home to Angel, a Great Pyrenees who watches over the miniature Old Town farm.

City law allows as many as five hens in some residential districts, after the Steamboat Springs City Coun­­cil approval in December 2009.

“We get about a dozen eggs a day, and we eat about a dozen eggs a day,” Fielding said. “Two growing boys, you know?”

City planner Jason Peasley said a permit process is required for six or more hens. Fielding said he hasn’t applied for that permit but knows of “quite a few people around town” with more than five hens.

“If Barb (Wheeler) decides the city has to do something about it, then she’ll send me a letter,” he said.

Fielding received a similar letter from city staff about a year ago, informing him the goats were not compliant with city regulations. Wheeler said that letter came after a complaint from a Fairview resident who faced goat restrictions after that neighborhood was annexed into the city.

“I agree with him — it’s not fair,” Fielding said. “He should have his goats back.”

So, rather than conform to existing regulations, Fielding began working with city staff to change them. Wheeler said she’s had no complaints about the goats from Fielding’s neighbors and has no plans for enforcement.

“I’m not going to do anything about it right now,” she said.

Dogs and fences

Cynthia Cantele has 12 goats at her state-registered “C” Goats Dairy off Routt County Road 14 in the Blacktail Mountain area.

She said the animals have varied uses, including weed control, carrying loads on wilderness trips, and providing meat, milk and fiber.

“They serve a purpose, whether it be meat, psychology or friendship,” she said.

Cantele said a revised city ordinance could be a benefit to children in 4-H programs, who could take care of goats at their homes for a 4-H project. But significant care would be needed, she said.

“My concern is fencing and other dogs. … It’s what the dogs are going to do to the goats,” Cantele said. “If people have (goats) tethered, they’re just like meat hanging on a string. … That’s where you’d have to be a responsible pet owner and take provisions for your goat.”

Fielding said he bought his family’s Old Town property in 2002 and has had goats there for about five years. More could be on the way around May 1, when Caprecious is due.

“We’re expecting kids,” John Fielding said.

He praised the efforts of city planning staff in working through the process so far.

“They have been extremely helpful and forthcoming to make reasonable accommodation and to go forward with the work of creating a new, more appropriate ordinance.”

Comments

bill schurman 3 years, 9 months ago

Move to the country. That will solve your problem.

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John Fielding 3 years, 9 months ago

.

Thank you for your suggestion Bill, it is an attractive prospect to have the ability to have a milk cow too,as well as horses right at hand instead of boarding them in Strawberry Park. But it is not feasible for us under the present circumstances, perhaps in a few years when the economy improves.

But for me,it is not really just about solving my problem. I honestly feel the greater problem is that of that unfortunate soul who lost his beloved goats when they were outlawed. His distress has become my motivation. My moving would not help him at all, but legalizing goats can solve both of our problems.

The nature of the problem is curious, no complaint has been made these five years for noise,smell, flies, mistreatment, or any infringement on anyone's rights to the quiet enjoyment of their property. One might say thus no problem exists. So if a City ordnance prohibits an activity that is not a problem, clearly a modification to the ordinance is appropriate. The legalizing of urban chickens is an excellent example.

In a government of, for, and by the People,it becomes our responsibility to work within the system to continue to form a more perfect Union. If people were only motivated to solve their own problems with the laws, slavery might still be legal.

.

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callguinness 3 years, 9 months ago

John,

You had me on your side, seems like if they are not a problem for anyone, and you are truly treating them well then the rules should allow what you are doing.

However, the last sentence about slavery still being legal totally through me for a loop, what was the point you were trying to make with that? Before I drag you over the coals I think you should get a shot at explaining that a little further.

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

John, I like what your doing. It sounds like a perfect set-up. You have your small farm and it's a great atmosphere for your family. If the city does approve you - they will have to approve all the othe requests, from city residence, to have small farms within the city limits. This could turn into a real problem for the city!

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cindy constantine 3 years, 9 months ago

Bill- Is it the snow and gray that is making you so crabby? Perhaps a lower price on your house will get you out of here faster since prices are continuing to go down for those anxious to sell.

John- I applaud what you do and enjoy walking by your house which I do often. Maybe lowering the lot size requirement to 1/3rd of an acre is the answer. A more sustainable lifestyle is a step in the right direction for all of us to consider.

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John Fielding 3 years, 9 months ago

.callguinness

My point there was simply that the laws regulating the keeping of human slaves were not a problem for those who held no slaves. The motivation of those who worked to repeal those laws was the calling to improve the lot of their fellow humans, to be their brother's keeper..

evelyn

If the City makes the keeping of other animals a use by right, within certain reasonable parameters, as is the case with dogs, cats, hen chickens, and various other creatures, there will be no requests required for approval, hence no burden to the City to review and process them. If the City's only responsibility is to respond to complaints of real problems such as mistreatment of animals, creating a nuisance for the neighbors, etc, that will be little burden and an appropriate use of resources.

.

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Mike Heineke 3 years, 9 months ago

If the goats and chickens do not meet city regulations, than why are they still there? What am I missing here?

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exduffer 3 years, 9 months ago

Shark, it is just like illegal apartments in town if nobody complains there is no point in enforcing the regulation. Maybe that is not such a good example.

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exduffer 3 years, 9 months ago

Shark, it is just like the leash laws. If my dog is well behaved, why should I obey the regulations. Hold on, I will find a good example.

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

Their was a complaint made by the Fairview resident. Apparently his complaint was ignored. I've learned our planning departments don't and won't enforce the regulations they set.

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John Fielding 3 years, 9 months ago

.

The complaint by the Fairview resident was not ignored! It was the basis from which all this action has proceeded, which if successful will satisfy his complaint far better than simply causing the removal of my wife's goats It does our planning department great credit that they are willing to judiciously administer the law rather than blindly enforce it. A thoughtful review of a non-compliant condition necessarily includes examining options for mitigation, including considerations for variances or revisions of statutes.

.

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Jeff_Kibler 3 years, 9 months ago

What happened with the horses within the City Limits?

Specifically, those just off the core trail?

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paul potyen 3 years, 9 months ago

John,

You have my wholehearted support. Thanks for all your work on this, and good luck.

Paul

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Brian Kotowski 3 years, 9 months ago

I was indifferent to this until the slavery jive. I'm still indifferent, I suppose, but it's become more of a challenge to take Mr. Fielding seriously.

Hyperbole much, John?

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John Fielding 3 years, 9 months ago

Sorry Sep, using an H- bomb where a hand grenade would do I guess. I just picked the most obvious example of a law that needed change, prohibition would be better, or the one most closely related, the urban chicken ordnance.

But I was indifferent too, knowing that unless I created a problem that generated a complaint I would remain unmolested in my pursuit of living foods. Because the basis of the complaint was that benign enforcement policy, I became motivated to help solve the complainants issue.

In truth I would prefer all such laws be changed so only when there is a real problem is there cause for action by the government. But the nature if things is such that that may never happen, and having a complaint based enforcement policy is the next best thing.

.

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tcb 3 years, 9 months ago

How about the City tells Fielding he can have goats on his property just as soon as he cleans up the eyesore that his property is. The place looks like the winter testing grounds for Saran Wrap.....and has for years. The goats and chickens only add to the "country" look....the place appears to belong in the Appalachians. Wow.

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Mike Heineke 3 years, 9 months ago

Hope I can get in on this in time before the city makes a decision. Got me some good dog gone animals coming in on the UPS truck sometime this week. Got me some big ole birds from fllod ravaged Australia, some homeless lizards, some 12' long harmless snakes, 14 racoons, and some way too cute baby skunks. Figure I can have fresh eggs, skins for new boots, and maybe some new wraps for the kids before next winter. What do 'ya think? Might me on to something big here in the Boat. Maybe open me up a little stand on the corner by November for the tourists. Thinking also also about a city wildlife map for the tourists. I'll light up the cages and all that neat stuff. Wow! Can't wait for that big brown truck to show up. Gotta figure out what to do with all the poop though. Hum.......

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Troutguy 3 years, 9 months ago

John, is there a way to keep your dog from barking all day, every day? I live in the same neighborhood and hear your dog bark constantly at anyone who walks by. Heck, it barks when there's nobody around. Just walks up and down the fence line barking at nothing. It gets real old real fast. My friends and I have nicknamed him Barky.

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Neil O'Keeffe 3 years, 9 months ago

Gotta be pretty to live in the City! God bless ya John and Barky too!.

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bandmama 3 years, 9 months ago

LOL! ok, first let me say that goats are a terrific small animal for the benefits they provide. grew up around them and my sister still raises mini's. My son also had an intolerance to cows milks and a I owe a goat a thank you for helping to feed my child when I couldn't. That being said... do they really belong in the city? There are two of them, How much space to they have to be goats and what are the conditions in which they are kept? Goats really are a cleaner animal than some, but I am more concerned with the chickens. (and yes, I was raised around them too, and know the MESS they can make, unless free range and allowed to be natural "Chicks".) I have NO problem with keeping those critters, but within city limits? They SHOULD be a restraint on the number of farm animals allowed within the city limits, and the space that is availible to keep them. NOT fair to them or the neighbors who MAY not have bought thier homes with the idea that a Rooster would greet them every morning. On the other hand John, would love to buy some of those eggs. They are of a much higher quality and taste that what is at the store. if you ever get that cow? Sign me up for a gallon or two of the surplus. miss IT!!!! About that poor barking dog? LOL! When I was a little girl, one of our goats was a bit attracted to our dog, he also had a serious crush on a collie down the street. Had to finally turn him loose on a NANNY goat farm. maybe the dog is telling you he/she has been violated. Dont forget the poor thing when considering equality among the critters. Leave John alone and let him feed his kids some real food. If the animals are being kept humanely and cleanly, who cares?

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John Fielding 3 years, 9 months ago

. Bandmama The animals are very well cared for, the chickens have a winter range in the greenhouse of over a thousand square feet of deep leaf mulch where worms are always available for the scratching. No roosters allowed, nor billy goats, ladies only. Come on by for a visit and you'll agree these animals fit in well in the neighborhood, and try some eggs, they are really good. This is a city only by comparison to the rest of NW Colorado, folks in the real cities will tell you this is a little country town.

Troutguy, You're right about the dog, bugs me more than anyone else I assure you. She is just over 1 year old now, still learning. We have changed the bark control regime several times now, and it is getting better, but we still have some real challenges there between the college kids taunting her and the fox den right in her view across the street. Come spring I plan a privacy fence for her, that should also help. But if you're walking by, just sing to her "oh you're myyyy Angel baby, yes you're myyyy Angel baby..... that should do the trick!

tcb, My daughter calls it the "Plastic Castle", but each year there is more glass and less plastic. Pity is that much of the glass is also temporary, salvage to serve the need till the final version is in place. It will be elegant in the end, patterned antique slate roofing over a curved, two tiered octagonal atrium, massive cornices and crown moldings, the whole Victorian look. But times have been hard, I once thought I'd have it done in between five and ten years working solo, but between my wife's untimely death and the economic conditions it will take probably twice that long. I'm working as hard as I can, often 60 hours a week, but it is a big job. I appreciate your patience.

Paul, thank you for your efforts to support our transition to a more sustainable community.

Neil, and the many who have spoken to me personally, thank you too.

John .

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bandmama 3 years, 9 months ago

John, Ladies only?!!! And the space sounds pretty right on. Again, would love the eggs! (and a good goat cheese too....ummmm!!) Very good point about the pooch and that little corner. Love to see the work in progress, you have a super spot of Steamboat! (PSSSSTTTTT...... ever heard of community service, lots of locals who made a bad call and need to do the time, cool spot seen by a lot of folks, On the way to CMC....just saying.....)

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hereandthere 3 years, 9 months ago

Community service to work on someone's private residence?

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

Mama, You've got to be from Missouri! Now to the barking dog situation. Great Pyrenees become more protective as they age. Their wonderful dogs. Their job is to protect. They love people but as we have seen with the sheepherders dogs, they will destroy an intruding animal. It's their nature. Their barking is triggered not only by visually seeing the intruder but thier sense of smell. We own a Pyrenees. We live under the Flat Tops. When she barks it echos so she feels threatened and continues to bark. After a bit she has worn herself out and comes inside for a nap. It works for us because are neighbors are few and far between. John- it's only going to get worse!

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bandmama 3 years, 8 months ago

hereandthere-one poster called it an eyesore. I was saying that there are folks who need to spend some time doing a service for the community, and since CMC sits so closely to it and come on, we all know that CMC is very much into public image. I am sure that administration could find a few students to help Mr Fielding out while making a difference. ftp- I resent that!!!!! Arkansas all the way. Except for that first cousin marriage thing. I refused.

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John Fielding 3 years, 8 months ago

. I do not expect the privacy fence to fool the dog. Its purpose is for the benefit of the pedestrians, to reduce the volume of the barking they hear, and to not have to see that very large dog challenging them. I plan to use slabs so the fence will be 11/2 to 4 inches thick, enough to reduce the noise level substantially.

But the main stay will still be the bark collar. She is learning to respect it, and so I do not have to fasten it tightly any more. I plan to introduce a placebo some time this summer, so while the real one charges she may still be deterred. Even then, there will still be a part of the day when she will be allowed to bark as she pleases, mostly exchanging communication with the other neighborhood dogs. I am learning which neighbors are day sleepers and trying to accommodate their schedules.

She does not need to bark much to do her job, the foxes know her well and keep their distance. The bears will be back soon, and when the dumpster at the Old West Steakhouse yields too little they will test the defenses again. Last fall my wife was in the corral when one approached. Angel, at only 10 months old, gave such a fierce challenge that it went right up the nearest tree. My wife was reluctant to leave her protector and so waited half an hour, shivering in her bathrobe, for it to get over its fright and leave.

Life in a small town can be so entertaining!

.

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bandmama 3 years, 8 months ago

John and Holly, Thank you so much for your hospitality and the tour and the eggs!!! Enjoyed meeting both of you and the critters. The place is a work of art in progress and I am sure that when finished..WOW! Angel really is an angel and very polite. The critters are all kept well and I dont think anyone has any point in complaining! Thanks again, a Pleasure! Bandmama.

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kathy foos 3 years, 8 months ago

I used to own goats and they love to roam and play.I cant imagine having to keep them from running around.The picture's of the goat are beautiful.Maybe Seesuki could replace that Palin picture with the goat?Just kidding.

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