FOUNTAINTOWN — Sitting with her legs crossed on the hay-covered floor of the barn, with a baby goat nestled in her lap, Jone Wheatley Koch enjoyed a few snuggles from the animal.
With three frolicking baby goats in the pin, all begging for attention, Koch, 45, took the time to tell how her sister’s love for the animals long ago led to a thriving business for her family.
Jone’s sister, Jane Ann Wheatley, 47, passed away from cancer two years ago. As a child, she had learning disabilities and couldn’t ride the horses on the family farm, so their parents got Jane Ann a few goats.
“My sister is the main reason we even have goats here in the first place,” Koch said. “She liked the goats and would milk them every night and morning.”
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Tagalong Farms, LLC, 10904 County Road 600W, Fountaintown, located a little over a mile south of New Palestine Elementary School, is now home to more than 100 goats. The family farm operates daily producing goat’s milk, which is then turned into all-natural lotion, soap and other products.
The farm has been in the family since 1980 and is run by Jone, her husband Louie Koch, their three daughters, Lauren, 18, Haley, 13, Ella, 11, and her parents Ben and Joan Wheatley.
While they’ve always shown and milked dairy goats, the family officially started making goat’s milk products six years ago and now process orders daily.
“Cleopatra used to take baths in goats’ milk,” Jone said. “It’s been around forever.”
Each morning the family is up at dawn milking goats in the main barn before heading to work and school. Then in the evening, they milk more, pasteurize the milk, and then turn it into lotion and soap at a processing facility on the farm.
Lauren, the eldest daughter, loves when the baby goats are born and take their first steps. Caring for the animals and watching them mature and contribute to the family business has been rewarding, she said.
“Taking care of animals is a little more challenging than some other jobs kids might have nowadays,” she said.
Lauren will be heading to college soon, where she plans to either study to become a veterinarian or get into the business end of things with accounting. Either way, she said, working with the family business has given her a head start.
All three Koch children have a love for animals and work with the goats as well as show them and other animals at 4-H county and state fairs.
The family sells the products at Mercy Lane Consignment shop in New Palestine and are working on plans to open their own shop in Franklin.
Tagalong Farms also offers tours in the spring so children and teens can come in and see the baby goats and milk the larger ones, along with interacting with pot belly pigs, chickens, rabbits and other animals on the farm.
“With the tours, we wanted to do something for my sister because she loved to show her goats,” Wheatley Koch said.