Fifteen years after their Year of the Goat, Karl Schatz and Margaret Hathaway, the owners of Ten Apple Farm, are living the life they envisioned. When visitors stay at the Airbnb guest house on the Ten Apple Farm property in Gray, they invariably tell Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz “they are living the dream.” The couple agree wholeheartedly.
Now in their 15th year as goat farmers, they’ve parlayed an intriguing idea into a homesteading lifestyle, complete with a menagerie of animals, an abundant garden and three daughters who have never known any other way of life. The couple were methodical and thorough in the pursuit of their dream. They call 2004 “their Year of the Goat”—a time they spent traveling around the country, visiting farms and weighing whether they could create a similar way of life. The answer, evidently, was yes.
The first seeds were planted when Hathaway and Schatz met in New York. He was a photographer and photo editor at Time, and she the manager of the popular Magnolia Bakery. They were both happy in their jobs, thoroughly enjoying the city.
“It wasn’t until we moved in together, and got a dog, that we became more domestic,” says Hathaway. “On our days off, we thought about what we could do together, and that was visiting farmers’ markets, cooking at home and generally nesting.”
The idea for the Year of the Goat took root, eventually sparking the move to Maine and the search for a farm to call their own. Schatz grew up in Hallowell, in the kind of family that tapped their own maple trees. Hathaway, a Kansas native, had never lived in the state but she has taken to it, embracing every aspect.
Most days Hathaway can be found in the compact farm kitchen, baking scones, coffeecake and cookies for the girls or anyone who happens to stop by. Ingredients are seasonal, mostly coming from the backyard garden and apple trees. Homemade goat cheese also figures prominently.
She honed her homey baking style during her tenure at Magnolia. “My style is the 1950s home baker,” she says, pulling a rhubarb coffeecake from the oven. She offers farmstead baking classes as well as jam making, cooking with chevre and even Thanksgiving turkey processing. Together, the couple is planning immersive “day at the farm” experiences. Participants might start with fresh eggs and warm scones for breakfast, then enjoy a hike and goat milking, a cooking workshop and finish with a farm cocktail on the porch, made with garden-fresh lovage simple syrup.
You can call it agritourism, but “it’s really just an excuse for us to invite people over,” Hathaway says. “If you sense a pattern here, we just really like entertaining.”
Goat hikes are offered several times a week, through all seasons. “The emphasis is more on goats than hiking,” says Schatz. “We started it as a way to get the goats out of the barn during the winter so they don’t go stir crazy. A lot of people who come wouldn’t necessarily seek out a hiking experience, but once you put a goat into it, a walk in the woods suddenly becomes very appealing.”
The hike is just a little over a mile, with different routes depending on the season. In winter, snowshoes are the preferred footwear when conditions are right. Schatz is like the alpha goat, leading a pack that includes Prunella, Bobette and her son Lafayette, with Moxie, Maxine and Emma Rose bringing up the rear. “They’re herd animals,” he says, “so they just all follow along”; 7-year-old Sadie assists, cautioning visitors not to touch the goats’ horns.
Goat milking is always part of the experience. “People are surprised and delighted how easy it is to milk an animal,” says Hathaway. “For however brief the time is they’re here, they’re forming a relationship with this animal and the natural world.”
Thanksgiving at Ten Apple Farm is a favorite day for the family. “It’s the holiday that was made for us,” says Hathaway. The family raises their own turkey, and a couple more for friends. They’ll have at least 30 people join them for a feast, which might include masterpieces such as a three-course deconstructed turducken: “A chicken confit appetizer, smoked duck and roasted turkey,” Schatz explains. The rest is potluck, “but it’s really hard to get Margaret not to cook everything herself,” he adds.
Last year, while in the midst of finishing their second edition of The New Portland, Maine, Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Coast of Maine, a compendium of stories and recipes from local chefs, Thanksgiving guests were assigned dishes from the book to prepare, easing the recipe-testing burden.
“We’re at a transitional point now for the farm,” says Schatz. “Until recently, we’ve both had jobs off the farm, and the animals were a side hustle. We’re now trying to make it more full time, front and center.” This means more workshops, such as pickling and canning, and holiday baking in the charming kitchen, as well as a fuller schedule of goat hiking.
“Like the Year of the Goat, we’ll give it a whirl and see how it goes,” says Schatz. “We do it because we love it and we love sharing it,” adds Hathaway.