Best of both worlds

The Balentine dream: How this DO takes on both a demanding career and a goat farm

Woodstock Goat Yoga is a passion project of Dr. and Mrs. Balentine’s, located at their home near Woodstock, New York.


On a fine Sunday morning in June 2022, I made the drive up from my home right outside of New York City to visit Jerry Balentine, DO, and his wife Victoria, at their home near Woodstock, New York.

In just an hour and a half, I was transported from the land of high-stress and the go-go-go mentality to a world where the city center had no traffic lights, and thus waiting for locals to make their way across the street at a parade’s pace caused a major traffic jam. The New Yorker in me naturally broke into a sweat. Didn’t they realize I had somewhere to be?! I was not far from my destination, so I told myself to breathe through it.

It was not long after I made it past the pedestrians that I was driving down a country road, with no sign of life for what seemed like miles in either direction. The arrow on my GPS began spinning in circles and I lost phone service. I pulled into an overgrown countryside driveway, stopping right before a weather-worn wooden gate, wondering if I had just unwittingly stumbled into an 80s summer camp horror flick…when a car pulled up right next to mine.

As luck would have it, we were both looking for Woodstock Goat Yoga (WGY), which takes place on the site of the Balentines’ passion project, their goat farm. We soon found WGY, and before I knew it, Mrs. Balentine was driving me across the property in a pickup truck to greet and chauffer the stars of the hour: baby goats.

I tried to not melt with every cute little bleat that rang out from their snuggly little bodies. Stepping onto the mat, I anticipated an experience like those I’d seen on TV and in photos, i.e., goats climbing on our backs while we attempted the cat-cow position. Instead, my fellow students and I used most of the class session to pet the babies.

I spent the remainder of my time trying to figure out how I, too, could live the Balentine Dream without having to give up my medical career that has yet to even begin. So, I posed some questions to Dr. Balentine, and he graciously answered.

Tell me how you ended up here. What were the contributing factors?

Before moving here, I was the Dean of the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM). We had a house in Westchester County, and my wife had an acupuncture practice in New York City. She sold the practice to spend more time in Woodstock and develop the farm. Everything became accelerated with the pandemic. It was during that time that I was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer, and earlier this year I was appointed executive vice president and provost at NYIT. I now work on campus two to three days a week, and remotely two to three days a week.

What advice would you give to others who are in the throes of a demanding career and want to make a similar transition?

I still work in an academic setting, but because of hybrid work, I can spend a few days a week and the weekend up here. Overall, I would encourage everyone to find their passions and hobbies outside of the work environment. This helps balance your life and decrease burnout.

I was in awe of your garden. If I recall correctly, the majority of it was a self-taught venture. Tell us more.

The first step is realizing that there is so much information out there. The real skill set is to determine what is valid and what is not. There are not many double blind, controlled studies on growing tomatoes in the Catskills, so it is a lot of trial and error.

How has being a physician affected your experience up here? How has being a DO in particular played into it?

Mostly, it is a good way to meet other farmers and homesteaders. Once we meet casually, I usually tell them I am a physician and that I’m always available for advice. At some point they end up reaching out to me either for a question or because someone fell, etc. After I drive over to check on them, we tend to develop a closer relationship and appreciation for each other.

Have you ever given or considered giving osteopathic treatment to the animals?

Definitely not. I use my medical skills when necessary, but don’t have a small goat OMM table!

On my way home, I hit that same pedestrian traffic jam in the city center. Except this time, having just passed the hours living life in a completely different mode, I was in no hurry at all.

Woodstock Goat Yoga will start for the 2023 season in April.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

This hobby helps me cope with my grueling medical training

Becoming the medical expert in my family

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