We began our journey with goats after purchasing Hilltop Place Ranch at Leakey, Texas. After assessing our land, we knew that goats were the perfect animal for this rocky, steep, brushy place. In 2015, we purchased the Medina ranch location, which is not as steep but has a lot of brush that is available to clear and will provide the older goats with an easier terrain to manage during their elder years.
The initial herd of 52 high percentage Boer cross does arrived in May 2006.We began breeding them to a purebred registered Boer buck named Natal. The first kids were born in the spring of 2007. Then we were on our way to immersing ourselves in the goat world. The ranch has been a way for us to come full circle to a way of thinking and living which is similar in values and work ethic to the farms in northeastern North Dakota from whence we came.
After learning about raising goats, building necessary fences and shelters, and trying to sell the goats through auctions and 4-H show wether sales, we decided we wanted to control the care and disposition of the goats from our pasture to your plate, as well as, possibly occasionally, provide some high quality commercial breeding stock to people with existing herds or newcomers to the goat business. We felt that was the best way for us to ensure the best possible treatment for our animals.We also want to provide you with the healthiest and highest quality meat that we can produce. We believe in promoting local products and sustainable agriculture, while being good stewards of our land and our animals. Hilltop Place Ranch goat meat cuts are antibiotic and hormone free and have minimal processing with no additives.The goats are raised on natural pasture browse, as well as, supplemental non-GMO food and hay such as alfalfa, coastal, and peanut. We try to secure hay that has not been sprayed with herbicides, but due to the difficulty of finding good hay at a reasonably reasonable price with transport included, occasionally, we are not certain of what has been used on the hay. Our animals also receive supplemental salt and minerals as needed to ensure their best health.If it is absolutely necessary for the well-being of the animals, parasite treatments are sparingly used. No animals that are in the meat product stream are ever given antibiotics.If antibiotics are ever given to save an animal's life, it will not be put into our meat product.Our animals have access to a large pasture every day and shelter from inclement weather.Our does kid near our home, so we can assist any of them that need assistance. They are usually put into their own hay-bedded pen with their kids in order to bond and get rest and a little recovery before having to compete for food again with the other mothers.
We love our animals and most of them are friendly enough to be petted or at least enjoy sitting in the pen with us. The hardest parts of our job are when we lose an animal to natural causes and when we have to take the animals to the processor. We value their lives and appreciate the great sacrifice they make for the use of the food that comes from them. Every animal that dies on the ranch is given an end with dignity and prayers to send them back to the great beyond. We are with nearly every animal when it is born and we are the ones who take them from the ranch in our own trailer and deliver them from the trailer into their final pens at the meat processor. They receive a blessing for a peaceful end and thanksgiving is made for their life and their sacrifice. It has been a journey for us to understand that it is exactly people like us who should be raising livestock, because we treat them with dignity and respect every day they are with us for their contribution to this world. We hope that this love and care will shine through in our products and our encounters with you, our customers and friends. Goats are curious, loving, beautiful animals that provide a delicious, low fat meat alternative for the discriminating and adventurous palate.
If you are in our area and wish to visit the ranch to see our herd in their natural environment, please call to make an appointment. We will do our best to accommodate you. During kidding season, we prefer to limit visitors, due to our extra workload, so visits may not be available during that time (usually March through April). We are running a working ranch and since the goat lady has to do most of the work by herself during the week, often weekends we are very caught up in doing projects that are necessary to maintain the operation, so we may not always be able to accomodate guests. We are proud of what we do and love to share goat tales and information on being good stewards of animals and land.
The Medina location is amenable to the production of vegetables, pecans, and beef production, so that is something that could be available in future years. Both locations may be available for ranch cabin and camping accomodations in future years (beyond 2017).
In the words of the great animal lover St. Francis of Assisi, we offer this prayer for all animals and for us:
God Our Heavenly Father, ...By our own fault we have lost the beautiful relationship which we once had with all your creation. ...Give us the grace to see all animals as gifts from You and to treat them with respect for they are Your creation.
We pray for all animals who are suffering as a result of our neglect. May the order You originally established be once again restored to the whole world.....Amen.
Mary Walker-Chyle, "The Goat Lady" Ranch Manager/Co-Owner grew up with her parents and three brothers on a small family farm near Hoople and Park River, North Dakota. Between her formative years on the farm and her return to agriculture, Mary received a BS in Home Economics/Textiles with a Business Minor from NDSU in 1981and began her working years in the fashion industry in Los Angeles. Mary also worked in the healthcare and accounting industries while in LA. Upon moving to Houston, Mary again worked in the business area of the healthcare field and earned a JD from the University of Houston Law Center and an MPH from the UT Houston School of Public Health in 1995. Mary practiced law in Galveston and then ran her husband's medical practice from 1997-2003. In 2006, she began her current position as the ranch manager/co-owner of Hilltop Place. Mary lives at the ranch full time and does chores every day. She is with the animals by 7 am and puts them in their pen for the night before she goes in for the evening. It is probably the most physically demanding job she has ever had, but it beats working out at a gym and is good for the soul as well. Mary has embraced the return to a slower pace, solitary life, and has found goats to be wonderful animals for whom to care. She believes strongly in the importance of small farms/ranches in bringing back a sense of community and economic development for rural areas that have suffered greatly from the impacts of corporate farming. She is also dedicated to improving the lives of farm animals on this ranch as well as throughout the agricultural arena in whatever small ways she can. Mary's second full time job is running the upper level regulatory and business management side of Kerrville Cancer Center. She would rather approach health from the preventive side, but enjoys the beautiful patients she gets to know through her position as a co-owner and upper level executive of the Cancer Center.
Valerian And One of the Little Boys
Valerian Chyle, Jr., Ranch Co-Owner,grew up with his parents and seven siblings on the farm near Lankin, North Dakota and then in the farming community of Park River, ND. Valerian received a BA in Chemistry from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN in 1985, an MD from UCLA in 1990, did an internship at Baylor College of Medicine in 1991, and completed a residency at the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas in 1995. Prior to returning to ranching in his spare time, Dr. Chyle served as the Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at MidSouth Imaging in Memphis, TN, an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at UTMB Galveston, Medical Director of the Georgetown Cancer Treatment Center, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Texas Cancer Center, Round Rock, and currently serves as the owner and Radiation Oncologist of Kerrville Cancer Center in Kerrville, Texas. Valerian shares the vision of being a good steward of the land and animals with which they have been entrusted with his wife Mary. He has also designed and built a 25,000 gallon rainwater collection system at the ranch and directed the installation of a 3.5 KW wind turbine and a solar system to power the goat pen area. He sees the health benefits of eating grass fed, naturally raised, humanely handled animals as an important component of a healthy diet and is excited to be bringing another source of healthy protein that has been humanely handled to his local community. He is looking forward to the possibility of other meats and crops at the Medina location.
Lady Di, Great Pyrenees Extraordinaire, Livestock and People Guardian, joined us the fall of 2007. We found her on the road on the way up to the ranch. She was over 40 lbs underweight, had fleas, mange, ear infection, all kinds of worms, and was severely dehydrated and exhausted from obviously having puppies somewhere. The vet did not know if she would live. A lot of love and tlc and a lot of help from above made her well. She is a beautiful, loyal, caring, fierce guardian. She does not have a full time livestock guardian job, because Sina, our donkey, does not like to share that job with her. She does patrol the perimeter and lets us know if anything is "up". We are blessed to have her with us. Some say we rescued her, but we think it was a joint rescue.
RIP Zoe, Chief of Security until June 2013, joined our family in 2001 when we were living in Georgetown, Texas. She was a purebred German Shepherd who was adopted from a very nice family in the Austin area, who could not keep her because of their child with health problems of whom Zoe became overprotective. Zoe was very excited when she moved to the ranch. She enjoyed hiking and exploring with her best friend Zeus - who passed away in 2009 (FMI - google "The Story of Zeus"). Zoe was loyal and smart and she loved to bark at the goats, the donkey, the chickens, and anyone who entered the property. Unfortunately, Zoe watches over us these days from above. She passed away on June 6, 2013. She was a wonderful guardian and will always be missed.
Since we lost Zoe, we adopted Lord Remington, a Great Pyrenees/Saint Bernard July 6, 2013 and we adopted Axel "the father of peace", a beautiful, extremely sweet German Shepherd, who had been severely abused and who was only with us in person from May 2014 through early October 2014. After Axel's death, we learned of a new girl who needed a home named Simone. Simone is a beautiful traditional looking German Shepherd who we adopted in early December 2014. She has become the new Chief of Security. I am hoping to find the time to add pictures of Simone and Lord Remington soon, but pictures take more time and effort to upload to this website, so in the meantime, you can visit our facebook page to see many more pictures of the dogs, cats, goats and people at Hilltop Place.