Madison Casdorph, 14, wants to be a veterinarian, and she’s already working toward her goal.
During a summer visit with her grandparents in Ohio when she was 8, her grandfather took her to a county fair where she saw a goat being born.
“I thought it was so cool how that happened,” she said. She was so impressed that she wanted to have goats of her own.
“She talked to her grandpa and he liked the idea, so the two of them convinced my husband and me to get a couple of goats,” said her mother, Laura.
She and her husband, Michael, got five neutered males and one female.
“Then she decided she wanted to have babies,” Laura said. “So we did a lot of research into quality and what breed type. We settled on this breed (Nigerian dwarf dairy goats) because they’re smaller, and at the time, she was 8. This breed is ... friendly and great for young and old.”
That was the beginning of Madison’s Meadow, a small farm Madison runs at the family’s Beech Island home.
Over the years, the farm has been home to about 40 Nigerian dwarf dairy goats, different breeds of chickens, two roosters, three pigs and a quarter horse. She has Great Pyrenees dogs to help protect the animals, plus two cats and one German shepherd.
She also shows goats at the South Carolina State Fair and South Carolina Dairy Goat Association. On the business side of the farm, she breeds and sells baby goats, and sells eggs and chickens.
While running her own farm is a lot of fun, it’s also a lot of work, Madison said.
“You may see people on TV do this and think, ‘Oh, I can do that’, but it’s not that easy,” she said. “You have to make sure every animal is happy. You have to give them medicine. You have to make sure they have water and they get enough feed. It’s hard work.”
Madison has learned responsibility by taking on a majority of the farm’s duties
“We truly put most of this on her and we do that for a reason,” Laura said. “If mom and dad did all the work and she just did all of the fun, she wouldn’t be getting a true appreciation of what this endeavor entails, so when it’s time for her to take it on herself, she’ll have a realistic perception of what needs to be done.”
Last summer, Madison participated in the Ag-Discovery program at Alcorn State University as a rising eighth grader at North Augusta Middle School. AgDiscovery is a joint program between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and universities and colleges and is for youths 13 to 17. Each university or college’s program focuses on a specific area of agriculture.
This year, Madison applied to programs at four university sites and got accepted to them all, but settled on the program at Kentucky State University, which is geared more toward those interested in veterinary medicine and animal science.
The 13-day program kicked off Monday and features activities such as animal autopsies, group presentations, field trips and recreational activities. Activities focus on science, technology and math.
Attending the program last year affirmed Madison’s career goal of becoming a veterinarian, she said.
“Ever since I was little, if I saw an animal, I just had to help it somehow,” she said. “I love working with animals. I want to do the very best I can to save them.”
However, her experience in raising and breeding her own animals has also taught her about the cycle of life and she’s prepared to handle the tough decisions veterinarians sometimes have to make, she said.
While Madison’s away, her parents will take care of the animals, she said.
The rising ninth grader, who will attend Silver Bluff High School, wants to attend Clemson University for her undergraduate degree and then go to the University of Georgia or Ohio State for veterinary school.
For more information about Madison’s Meadow, visit www.madisonsmeadow.com.