Hibi Farm is nestled on a sprawling suburban block in a quiet court in Melbourne’s not-quite-inner north. You could be forgiven for forgetting you were in the middle of postwar-built suburbia and instead had been transported back in time to the Swiss Alps, Heidi-style.
Chickens peck around the goat pen, which sits at the back of the yard, beyond the extensive fruit and vegetable gardens. Michi Pusswald, a householder at Hibi Farm, scrapes out the straw bedding. His wife Angelica nuzzles Tessie, a bearded Toggenburg milking goat, leading her up onto the milking stand. Michi and Angelica are on the ‘goater’ shift this morning, and that means an early start.
Hibi Farm sits at the centre of the Hood; a loose collective of local households living the good life. Central to the operation of Hibi Farm is the goat co-operative. Milking the goats is a daily ritual undertaken by one of the 15-odd official ‘goaters’ rostered on. This milk is shared between their households and then further afield as currency in bartering arrangements with friends and neighbours.