The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles in Pursuit of Peace, Pastures, and the Perfect Cheese

Many people dream of leaving the workday world for a life of simplicity and freedom, and Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz did just that. Feeling like something was missing from their city lives, the couple began to dream of an existence that was closer to the land and became captivated by the idea of themselves as… goat farmers. Realizing that they knew little about goats, and even less about farming, they gave themselves a year to explore the world of goats and decide if that was where they belonged. In THE YEAR OF THE GOAT, the reader can jump in the “goat mobile” and follow their adventures as they ditch their big-city lifestyle to trek across forty-three states in search of greener pastures and the perfect goat cheese. Along the way, the reader is introduced to a vivid cast of characters–including farmers, breeders, cheese makers, and world-class chefs–and learns everything there is to know about goats and getting back to the land. From the largest goat auction in Texas to a small Indiana dairy, from a Tennessee barbecue cook-off to a tasting session with New York’s premier maitre fromager, from Chicago’s famed Billy Goat Tavern to the rolling pastures of Northern California, the couple pursues all things goat. But readers beware: when it comes to goat cheese, it can be love at first bite.

Part food memoir and part picaresque travel narrative, THE YEAR OF THE GOAT marries the author’s twin obsessions with food and all things goat and tells the story of one couple’s fascinating journey.

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What people are saying about The Year of the Goat

A few thousand miles’ worth of earnestly documented visits to such goat-focused destinations as halal slaughterhouses, goat chariot races, goat barbecues, and even the experimental goat farms of Auburn, Alabama, “the epicenter of research on goat reproduction”, can hardly fail to awaken in the reader a genuine appreciation for, if not the world’s finest cheeses, the endearing creatures (human and animal) that make some of those cheeses possible.


Delightfully, Hathaway’s honest, whimsical prose and Schatz’s photography make The Year of the Goat just as captivating as the couple’s story — [It’s] told with such earnest passion and curiosity, that it¹s impossible not to root for these two as they wind their way around the country.

The Lillith Blog

The Year of the Goat immediately engaged me. Hathaway’s writing style is easy going and light, which makes it delightful to read. Her writing style reminds me of Ruth Reichl in its grace and accessibility.

Fork and Bottle: Food Commentary Book Reviews

Hathaway and Schatz’s goat odyssey might be a little extreme — but the oddest observation in this charming and uplifting tale is that [they] aren’t alone — Hathaway and Schatz end their journey on their own farm. The goats are in pens, but their owners are free.

Anyone who has watched someone fall in love will recognize the symptoms: It’s sweet; it’s naive; it’s insane; it’s contagious. But what Hathaway and Karl Schatz, her fiance (and photographer), have fallen for is the idea of raising goats.

– Washington Post

Hathaway’s descriptions of the characters they meet–both human and goat–are funny and vivid … This is a book for anyone who’s ever imagined going back in time to a simpler life–or anyone who loves cheese.

Entertainment Weekly

Hathaway pokes fun at her naive notions of rural life with a wicked humor that nicely balances the naked earnestness of the endeavor. The details of animal husbandry and cheese production will intrigue those interested in food’s origins, and many readers, particularly city dwellers, will also be captured by the personal story of a young couple’s unusually mindful efforts to build a meaningful life together.


Hathaway gives … a modern twist by emphasizing “terroir,” the idea that “food is rooted in the land,” and of connecting “the palate to the place.” Local-eating, slow-food activists will find much to chew on here.

Publishers Weekly