Dancing Goats and Singing Chickens Organic Farm isn’t a typical farm.
Founded in 2017, owner Dr. Muhammad Ayub teaches residents different aspects of agriculture through hands-on experiences in different workshops.
The farm, located at 14062 Yelm Highway SE, also grows and sells its own produce, including tomatoes, chili peppers, artichokes, cucumbers and rhubarb. It also has a plethora of young fruit trees that will someday bear fruit. People can also purchase seeds for crops, including a pasture mix, a cow’s pasture mix, sheep’s pasture mix, goat’s pasture mix and an assortment of vegetable seeds.
As well, Dancing Goats and Singing Chickens Organic Farm offers monthly classes about gardening, composting, greenhouse construction, honey bees, solar panels, biochar, growth of mushrooms, hügelkultur mounds, where garden beds are built from rotten logs and plant debris, and more.
“We can’t do anything about climate change, but we can teach people,” Ayub said. “We function like the local grange by doing all the workshops and educating, helping the children. We had more than 120 kids come to the farm with six or eight teachers, and we showed them around seven different stations. They learned about gardening, composting, honey bees, hügelkultur mounds. It was the normal workshop classes we offer but simplified for children.”
Ayub said another popular event at the farm is its free community yoga, which takes place for 16 Saturdays during the summertime.
The farm itself sits on 12 acres of land near Southworth Elementary and was founded on Valentine’s Day. Ayub said the farm has had 120 different people work at the location, including 40 women, 40 veterans and about 40 formerly incarcerated individuals.
“We believe everyone should get a second chance, and they’ve given us no trouble,” Ayub said of the former inmates. “They show up happy that they have a job coming out of jail, and we’ll never ask them what they were in for. Who are we to judge them? All we want to know is are they honest, trustworthy and strong? We can teach anyone anything out here.”
During the summertime, Dancing Goats and Singing Chickens Organic Farm typically has 55 sheep, 55 goats and about 600 chicks. In addition to emphasizing use of recycled materials, Ayub said the farm also collects rainwater to use in the summer for watering produce and the animals. The summertime is an economically productive period for the farm, while Ayub said the winter is used to work on its social impacts.
“In the winter, the kids will come in for the petting zoo and tours,” Ayub said. “Other than that, we have only eggs and honey, firewood. We also sell seeds, $10 per pound. The honey that we stock up during the summer, we sell continuously now. The chickens stop laying during the winter because their pituitary gland isn’t stimulated. Because the price of hay has gone so high, we do butcher some sheep and goats because we can’t afford to carry them through winter.”
Those interested in interning at the farm during the summer can apply on wwoof.net. Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a 50-year-old organization that aims to connect community members with organic farmers to promote a cultural and education exchange while building a global community of ecological farmers and sustainable practices.
Ayub has housed numerous interns at the farm in the past for a 12- to 16-week internship in camping trailers on the property.
“Before, we used to have interns during the summertime before COVID. They’d live in the house in a bedroom, but now, all over America, the new rule is the interns — both males and females — should have their own living quarters,” Ayub said. “We have several trailers from the auction so our interns can sleep there.”
Dancing Goat and Singing Chickens Organic Farm also offers residents a special and hands-on opportunity to improve their home garden’s fertilization. For just $1, people can visit the farm, some coming from Lacey and Olympia, and shovel manure into their own bucket.
“BYOB used to be bring your own booze. Now it’s bring your own bucket,” Ayub said, adding people can buy seven different types of manure. “We give them a shovel or pitchfork, and they work.”
Hans Abbott, a worker at Dancing Goats and Chickens Organic Farm, has done landscaping and gardening-related jobs in Pullman for 35 to 40 years, he said. Now, at the Yelm-based farm, Abbott does a little bit of everything.
“I do anything that has to do with simple electricity, framing, fencing, gardening,” Abbott said. “I’m a master gardener. I’ve been gardening all my life since I was 12 or 13 years old. I offered Muhammad free labor to do some renovating of some of the garden spaces he had here. Once he figured out that I’m a pretty good worker with a good attitude, he offered me an opportunity to come out and join the community and work a little bit.”
Abbott has also worked on various projects on the farm, including the construction of a cow shed, several paddocks, a roofed pavilion, arbors and more. Because of his love of gardening and landscaping, he began improving the farm’s aesthetics.
“We’ve come a long way in the two and a half years I’ve been here, with getting it looking better. I’ve planted tulip bulbs on the front end and really anything that brings color and pretty,” Abbott said. “... A little bit at a time, I try to add some things to make it look like a perennial garden. But it’ll take two to three years for it to really take shape.”
Ayub said he’s been focused on the nitty-gritty aspects of the farm, such as construction of different sheds for animals or greenhouses but is now able to focus on the farm’s looks.
“For six years, we’ve been working on soil fertility and, now, we’re reaping the benefits. When people used to come visit us during [the pandemic], they’d say, ‘This was so ugly,’ and ‘We knew when immigrants bought this, they’d make it look like sh-t.’ My wife and I got offended. She’s from Sweden. I’m from India,” Ayub said. “The thing is, when you go to a bakery and they’re in the middle of baking cookies, bread and all, the place looks dirty. There’s flour over here, sugar over there, but once the bread is baked and the cookies are baked, you taste it and realize how nice it is. It’s wrong to criticize when we are in the middle of a project.”
With less than nine weeks until springtime, people can follow activities at the Dancing Goat and Singing Chickens Organic Farm by following its self-titled Facebook page, or call 360-489-2830.