We stopped by the farm of the famed @goatsofanarchy Instagram account to talk to the woman who started it all…
I’m pretty certain goats have become the new cats of Instagram. Who follows @goatsofanarchy, the Instagram account that grew 30k followers in one night? It’s got to be one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen, and Leanne Lauricella is the brains behind this amazing operation. Once an NYC event planner, now turned goat lover/animal rescuer, she traded in her heels for a pair of muck boots. She now is the proud mama of 11 goats, a pig, a mini pony, a donkey, a dog, some chickens and give or take a few other farm animal friends. She focuses on rescued animals, goats specifically, locating them and giving them the love and care they were once left without. After turning vegan 4 years ago, she discovered an instant compassion for farm animals, and now has dedicated her life to them.
Join us as we talk to Leanne about her story, and recap our amazing day at her farm below!
Warning: Cuteness Overload.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the Instagram account that you run?
My name is Leanne Lauricella and I am the creator of the popular Instagram account, Goats of Anarchy. I am a native Texan but moved to NYC in 2005 for a change of scenery. My plan was to stay on the East Coast for about a year, but that year has quickly turned into 11! I run an account featuring 11 goats and some of their other farm friends. I am sharing their lives through Instagram in hopes that their followers will fall in love with them and start to view farm animals as sentient beings.
How did your love for goats come about?
I was working in NYC as an event planner. In 2011, I got married, moved to New Jersey and began commuting. I can’t remember what made me do this, but there is one particular drive home that changed my life forever. While sitting in tunnel traffic, I got out my phone and started searching “factory farming” (confessing to a traffic violation here). After reading very little, and seeing several images and videos, I became a vegetarian right there in my car. This was about 4 years ago. Over the next few months, I continued to research factory farming and decided to become vegan. It was the easiest and best decision of my life. Once you fully understand what (or who) is in animal products, and how they are made, it is impossible to eat them. Becoming vegan gave me an instant compassion for farm animals. I was curious about them and wanted to know more about the possibilities of relationships with humans. I remember seeing goats in fields and found them interesting. One day, my husband stopped by a goat farm and I knew instantly I wanted some of my own.
What was your life like pre-goats? Where were you, and what were you doing?
I lived in NYC for about 6 years and worked there for 10. I had a great job as an event planner and I knew I was lucky to have it. After the stock market crashed in 2008, times were tough for a lot of people, and I always felt lucky to have a job that I liked. Although I enjoyed many aspects of my job, it was very stressful and required my attention around the clock. The commute was awful, the stress level was high, and I often asked myself, “Is this what life is?” I was feeling completely unfulfilled and I knew there had to be something more meaningful.
GOA Assistant, Paige Bellucci.
What ultimately made you decide to leave the city and start your farm?
After moving to the suburbs and adopting my first two pet goats, it became that much harder to get excited about my job. I adopted three more goats and it was clear to me that this was the lifestyle that I wanted. Now, with five goats and a few chickens, the workload outside was building up, and I was loving every minute of it. It was time to make a change, so I decided to trade in the high heels for muck boots. Some people have called me foolish or irresponsible for quitting my job without a plan but, for me, it was a leap of faith.
I was so surprised to find that goats are so friendly, affectionate and playful. To me, they are very much like dogs and I wanted others to know this as well. I started an Instagram account to document their lovable characteristics and silly antics. On my very first day of unemployment, Instagram featured one of my photos on their home page and I acquired over 30k followers in one night! To this day, I still have no idea how they came across my account, but I am forever grateful to them. To me, the timing of this was no coincidence, and I took this as a sign that I was on the right track! I now have almost 200k amazing and supportive followers!
You take in a lot of rescued animals and look after them. How do they get in your hands?
I adopted many of my animals from the Barnyard Sanctuary. Of those animals, two of them came from a horrible cruelty case, two from irresponsible breeding, three were owner-surrendered and one was rescued from a meat auction. My three newest rescues came to me through people who contacted me through Instagram!
Your Instagram account has gained a large following in a short amount of time. What’s the experience been like? How do you go about posting and interacting with your followers?
My experience has been both exciting and overwhelming. The increasing popularity of Goats of Anarchy is bringing great opportunities my way. Every week I am doing interviews, blog articles, photo shoots and other exciting things I will be announcing soon! I try to post about three times per day to catch several audiences and to stay connected with the followers who are truly interested in the day-to-day activities of the goats. I answer as many emails and private messages from followers as time allows but, unfortunately, it’s just not possible to answer them all. For the last couple of months I’ve had three baby goats running around my house and I imagine that’s similar to having triplet two-year-olds!
It feels like goats are the new cats of Instagram. How do you feel about the influx of people taking them in as pets?
I’m excited and terrified. I want nothing more than for people to view goats as they do dogs or cats, but they are much more work than dogs or cats. Some of the messages I receive make me want to cry. People are buying baby goats without researching anything about them and they have no idea what they are doing. For starters, you can’t just buy one! Goats are herd animals and MUST be with their own kind. Having only one goat is a cruel and terrible thing. Promoting goats as pets instead of livestock without causing an influx of careless breeding, and buying has been the biggest challenge.
What advice can you give people who want to have one of their own?
Please research. Goats are not as tough as everyone thinks. There is so much you need to do to get prepared. They are wonderful animals and wonderful pets, but preparation is key. I have written a blog article with some of the basic things to know before getting your first goats. You can read about it on www.goatsofanarchy.com.
How has the adjustment from city life to farm life been?
One word. EASY!!!!!!!!
Each goat has a personality of its own. The pony and donkey, too! Do you feel like you have a personal connection to each of the animals?
Oh absolutely! Every animal has its own personality and they are all completely different! Jax is a lover, Tig is a chewer, Lyla is feisty and Ansel is a troublemaker. Their personalities are every bit as complex as those of dogs, and my relationship is different with each one of them.
What do you hope your fans and followers learn/take away from what you’ve been doing with the farm and rescued animals?
It’s never too late to follow your dream. Life is fulfilling when you are doing something meaningful. Knowing farm animals is so much more rewarding than eating them.
I hear you have a lot of future projects in the works. An enchanted goat park might be one of them? Tell us what’s next!
The biggest priority right now is moving. We need more space! I am completely out of room and can’t take another animal where we live now. When my husband and I bought our house we had no idea we would have farm animals. If all goes well, we will soon own a home on a wooded lot so that the goats can roam freely and forage in the trees. I would love to build a barn, a goat playground and lots of bridges and platforms among the trees. I envision an enchanted goat forest!
What’s been the most rewarding for you since starting @goatsofanarchy? Have you seen a community grow from it?
I have made lots of friends through Instagram who share my same passion, most of whom I have never met! We all share a bond and it’s great to have this online community so that we can be a support system for one another.
Shop Pet Project.
Videos by @pipusthewise
Photos by Jana Kirn