Goat yoga is a thing – people do yoga with goats on them – but a town in Conneticut has ordered Aussakita Acres Farms to stop.
Town officials say mixing livestock and meditative exercise is not allowed and have ordered farm owners to stop the sessions. The farmers say they will not stop, so the confrontation will continue at least through the end of the month, when a zoning board of appeals hearing is scheduled.
For the past several weeks, guests at the 5.6-acre farm have paid $25 each to do the “downward dog” and other yoga moves while small goats clamber on their backs, nuzzle their faces and occasionally pee on their mats. The farm in the town’s northeastern corner runs a total of four, hour-long sessions on weekends, and classes average 48 participants, farm co-owner Tracy Longoria said Monday.
Through the plan of conservation and development, Manchester leaders have encouraged the town’s few remaining farmers to diversify, and that’s what she and her partner have done, Longoria said. Aussakita (a pairing of two popular dog breed names) offers duck eggs, pet pigs, alpaca fur, close encounters with miniature llamas – and for the past several weeks, yoga with goats. It’s all part of surviving as a Connecticut farmer, Longoria says.
A cease and desist order issued on July 26 says the activity violates rules on allowed uses in “rural residence” zones. A special exception approval or variance would be required, Zoning Enforcement Officer Jim Davis wrote in the order. Failure to comply with the order, Davis wrote, could result in fines of up to $2,500 per violation. The zoning board of appeals has scheduled a public hearing on the issue for Aug. 30.