Driving along Fales road in Washington State is a bit like riding a gentle roller coaster. Twists and turns are interspersed with rolling hills, cutting through farms old and new. There are large equestrian facilities and small hobby farms. There are homes with simple fences and some with acres of white, vinyl fencing. This is an area that, despite surrounding growth, has maintained its charm and rural character. It is called Snohomish, and it was home to Pat and Art, the Showalters. If you’ve never been to Zederkamm farm, grab a cup of coffee and sit back – I will take you there.
Driving up to Pat’s house, one must slow significantly so as not to miss the turn. At the end of a long, steep, twisted gravel driveway, you would find Pat and everything she loved. Pat greeted visitors upon arrival, dressed in her farm attire: jeans, checkered blouse, apron, and boots. On rainy days, her small frame would be swallowed up in bulky rain gear, water dripping from the brim of her hat. Still, Pat would smile and laugh, eager to visit and show you around. She wore her long hair pulled back on most days, oftentimes tied up in a scarf to keep it under control. Her smile was wide and bright, her laughter contagious.
If you’re going for a visit at Pat’s place, you’d better plan to stay for a while. She loved to share stories over tea with sandwiches and cookies. She would warm the fire in her woodstove and show you her latest creations. Her home was simple. A chair, a couch, an old braided rug, and woodstove comprised the living room. Beautiful plants adorned the large atrium window, stretching out towards the sun. Pat kept it humid for them with a black kettle on the stove, but she was never sure if her lemon tree was going to survive. Her art was everywhere. Pat’s prized figurines were displayed on shelves, many of them goats. Did you expect cows? More pictures, small plants, decorative plates and tea pots, everything special to Pat was on those shelves. It wasn’t cluttered. It wasn’t in excess. After 80 years of life, these were her keepers.
A short wall separated the living room from the dining room. The large farmhouse table with vintage chairs served as both an eating space and her office. Laid neatly on the table was her inventory for sale: all kinds of handcrafted items that you could take home. Often I would purchase items from Pat for gifts, but sometimes these “gifts” were just for me.
After a nice cup of tea and some goodies, a tour of the farm was in order. This was where Pat truly shined. Another farm gate kept the “pesky” chickens and ducks from wandering too far. It also served as the last resort if a clever goat managed to open a gate or spring his or her buddies from their pens. “You see,” Pat would tell me, “we live with toddlers who are frequently unmonitored. There’s no telling what they’ll do.” This was often followed by a story of the most recent escapade by one of her bucks or does. Pat would open the gate into her world. She would invite you in to see her special place, meet her closest friends. On your walk you would see gardens bursting with vegetables, berries, and flowers. Fruit trees, maple, fir, and cedar – this was a farm rich for the senses.
Zederkamm farm was home to all kinds of animals. Pat and Art raised Nubian and pygmy goats and eventually Kinders. They had chickens, ducks, and peafowl. They even had an orphaned deer, or so I was told. Beneath the towering cedar canopy were small barns, chicken coops, and goat shelters. There were so many chickens and ducks, too many to name. But the goats – they all had names. Study some of the early pedigrees from Pat’s herd, and you will see how busy she was. She was greatly rewarded for her efforts. The animals trusted her. They loved her. It was very obvious. During the day, the animals and all living things on that farm depended on her, and she them.
When I first met Pat, she had already thinned her herd. This was in 2010 and by that time, she wasn’t breeding nearly as many does as she once did. Pat also offered buck service, and business was brisk. I was in awe of Pat every single time I visited. Keenly aware of our age difference, I just shook my head and marveled at her strength and agility. “Here, let me get the boys some fresh hay,” she would say, as she climbed a towering hay stack. Pat was so giving of her time and experience. She loved to host events that would bring her “goat friends” to the farm. Annual blood draws became a big party each spring. Biosecurity was very important to her, and she knew that some people didn’t have access or the means to get their goats tested. Pat would invite her veterinarian to Zederkamm farm, and for a nominal fee, participants could have their goats tested. Problem solved! The day would begin with coffee and doughnuts, followed by a farm tour, blood draws and then lunch! Pat was in her element.
A friend to all, that’s what she was. It didn’t matter if you were a seasoned Kinder goat breeder or a complete newbie, Pat was “always happy to talk goat!” She was a night owl. You could count on her responding to your emails in the middle of the night because that’s when Pat squeezed in time for herself. She would gladly spend an hour on the phone with you if you had questions or concerns. Her voice was calming. No situation was too dire to elicit any form of panic, ever. She would chuckle and tell you, “Ah yes, those pesky goats are at it again, aren’t they?” If you just wanted to talk and find out how she was doing or what she was up to, phone calls at night could last for hours.
On December 2, 2018, the Kinder family lost a beloved friend. Pat left suddenly and without warning, leaving behind an army of admirers. Pat touched so many lives in so many ways. She can never be replaced, but her memory will remain strong in all of us. We can honor her memory by doing what she did. Be a mentor and provide support if you can. Be a calming presence. Be kind.
By Stephanie Lounsbury Griffin