By Dena Martin
The Times 

Grace Coulston Receives National Recognition for Raising Goats

 

December 7, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Grace Coulston takes a break from competition to show some love to Sanguine, her favorite doe who is due to deliver babies next month.

Youth goat breeder is selected to JABGA board and is highlightedin rural living magazine

WAITSBURG – When Texas goat expert Fred Homeyer met Grace Coulston, he was immediately impressed and asked her to share about herself in the "Goat Tips" article in the November 2017 Ranch & Rural Living magazine. Homeyer was judging a Boer goat show in Corvallis, Ore. when he was introduced to Coulston, who he describes as a "bright and shiny young person." Anyone who knows Coulston will agree that the title fits.

Coulston's outgoing personality, unflagging energy, and genuine concern for helping others are just a few of the qualities that make her sparkle. While at the Corvallis show, Coulston and another girl spontaneously organized a just-for-fun showing contest that raised $250 for the Oregon Meat Goat Producers scholarship. Coulston emceed the show.

The 16-year-old Wait-Hi sophomore owns and operates her own goat herd, Sorghum Hollow Boer Goats, with the assistance of her mother, Melanie Gagnon, and grandparents Mary and Jim Atteberry. She currently has about 30-40 goats and is building a solid name for herself in the goat world, according to Gagnon.

Coulston was recently approached by the Junior American Boer Goat Assocation (JABGA) who asked her to fill an unfinished term on their board. She accepted, and plans to run for an elected board position when she finishes this current term.

"The adult board members know of Grace and wanted her on the board because she is a really good public speaker and isn't shy," Gagnon said.

JABGA junior directors provide governance, direction, fundraising ideas, and promotion of Boer goats. Two members are selected from each of five areas across the country.

"I want to be on the JABGA board because I've been a member for three years and have attended many JABGA shows in our region one area. I would love to be able to bring my ideas and innovation to the board and see them, hopefully, be used to better the goat industry," Coulston said.

Coulston began raising goats at the tender age of four when Waitsburg residents Jake and Michelle Long made a deal with her. They gave her two pregnant does under the condition that Coulston would sell the babies and pay them back $200 for the does. Coulston made the deal and never looked back.

She then traded hay for some Boer goats from family friend Leslie Bader-Robinson and Coulston began showing at county fairs through 4-H and open goat shows. Gagnon said Deb Callahan and Veronica Deal, who raised goats at the time, were a huge help getting them started as well.

"Basically, we started out by taking everyone's animals that might die and that they didn't want to deal with. And we got to practice tube feeding!" Gagnon said.

Today, Coulston is a member of JABGA, the Oregon Meat Goat Producers, and the Snake River Meat Goat Association. She shows her own goats and also shows for others. She usually shows every weekend from the first of April through October and travels throughout Washington, Idaho and Oregon. If there is a show-free weekend, Coulston will often attend a Jackpot where she can make money.

Money can be made at shows, but building a name and reputation is most important, Gagnon said.

"It takes years to build a reputation, which is based on the shower's attitude and the quality of the animals," she said. "Someone just offered Grace $3,000 for a doe, which she turned down. People just want to win and don't want to start at the bottom of the class."

Coulston currently interns with WSU students Maddie Fenton and Trevor Clemens in Touchet. She helps care for the goats and is learning about artificial insemination and genetics.

"I have learned many new things that I can add to my goat operation from them. In the future I hope to intern under an operation, possibly in Texas or Oklahoma, to see and learn from goat owners down there," Coulston said.

Coulston plans to become a veterinarian, specializing in large animals and livestock. She has already built a rapport with Dayton veterinarian Kennie Reeves and the two occasionally swap advice and ideas.

Her immediate goals are to get the most out of her experience serving on the JABGA board, run and be elected as a junior director for the next term, and to compete in Nationals.

Coulston was hard pressed to name the best part about her business.

"It's hard to have only one favorite aspect about raising and showing goats, but if I could chose two the first would be the goats themselves. They are always there for me when I need a friend or partner in crime. I most definitely love my goats," she said.

Also, the people I have met from showing goats are the best and most fun to be around. Some of my closest friends are those I've met from showing goats and the memories I've made are priceless," she added.

Courtesy Photo

Coulston poses for a photo op after showing a winning goat in Ellensburg.

 

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