In 1868 William and Albertina Rohrs homesteaded a section of land not far from the cemetery located on the hill above Orting Washington, in the foothills of Mount Rainier. In 1903 their son Fred, came from Minnesota and purchased 120 acres from them. Fred and his wife, Lucy built the house which is now, Old Goat Farm. Fred worked for the county and raised six children in the home and the property remained in the family until Lucy died in 1968.
At that time the property was divided among the six children. Since then the property has been sold and divided many times but the house remained. The house now sits on just three acres and became the property of Greg Graves and Gary Waller in 2005.
Greg was just out for a lark with his friend, Linda, helping her dig some topiary at a nursery near Orting. That was Dec. 10, 2004. By the end of the year, Greg and his partner, Gary, had bought the place, captivated by the charm of the century-old farmhouse, gardens, pasture and mature trees.
Before the topiary expedition, and Waller’s magical first visit on a foggy Christmas Eve, both Greg and Gary had no plans to move. There was just something about the place that captured both their imaginations. Now many years later they are happily settled into Old Goat Farm, caring for dozens of animals and running a little specialty nursery.
Much of the farm infrastructure, including the charming old barn, was already in place at Old Goat Farm. The vegetable plot was fenced with espaliered apple, plum and pears. Outbuildings, clipped hedges and vast old trees with mossy trunks defined the beds and borders.
A number of domestic birds and a couple old pigmy goats came with the property. Since that time both goats, and most of the birds have past on, but have now been replaced by many more. There are now two younger goats, Ozzie and Harriett plus about 90 birds of all types.
Despite all the maintenance in caring for plants and animals, the guys set right in on projects. They cleared out the blackberries behind the chicken yard, planting maples and a hedge of shrub roses for summer and fall color between the farm and the forest.
Not wanting to leave their old garden behind, Waller and Graves brought 25 truckloads of plants with them, the starter kit for the garden. They set in rejuvenating the old garden beds, digging out shrubs past their prime and a number of invasive plants.
Storms come and go changing the property, sometimes dramatically, but the guys adapt and change the garden up a bit. There are constantly new projects some planned others not.
The one constant at Old Goat Farm is Christmas. Gary has a passion for Christmas that is unsurpassed. He has always pulled out all the stops and decorated to the nines. It probably isn’t a coincidence that Gary saw Old Goat Farm for the first time on Christmas Eve. He immediately started to think how cool it would be to decorate that old house. Being a Victorian type farmhouse it lends itself well to being decorated. When we say Gary has a passion, that’s putting it mildly. Every room has a different theme and every room has a tree including the bathrooms and hallways. There are usually between 14 and 17 trees in the house and at least a half dozen outside.
The Christmas décor is actually a collection that has been forty years in the making. Currently there are about thirty different themes that Gary chooses from. They are never the same from year to year (that would be too boring).
About 2007 a friend of Greg and Gary’s talked them into sharing the Christmas magic with her garden club. Since then it has taken on a life of its own. Now there are about 30 individual Christmas Teas. Without any advertisement they sell out by the end of summer. For many friends and neighbors it has become a Christmas tradition. There is nothing quite like Christmas at Old Goat Farm.
Life is always changing and always interesting at the farm. We hope you have the opportunity to come visit and step back in time.