Goats for rent

IMG_20150713_095557707We had seven guests staying in our back yard last week. We put them to work clearing away invasive plants during their six-day visit, and they did a great job.

They weren’t campers. They were goats. We hired them from a local business called Goat Girls because the marshy land north of our vegetable garden had become an impenetrable thicket of multiflora rose, bittersweet, swamp dogwood, honeysuckle and glossy buckthorn. These plants had taken over the back third of our yard and were coming for our garden.

IMG_20150708_091123219Joe Willie of Goat Girls put up a nylon electric fence to enclose the area we wanted cleared. Then he and his daughter brought in the goats: Dan, Crumpet, Tumbleweed, Amethyst, Rose, Ivy and 4-month-old Munchkin. They tromped in and went immediately to work, chomping  and trampling the vegetation.

IMG_20150708_093822130All we had to do was give them water twice a day and occasionally splash them with insect spray. And we had to make sure not to touch the electrified fence, which keeps the goats safe from predators like coyotes. Joe came by every day to make sure the goats were OK, and he moved the fence one time to give them new land to conquer.

It was fun watching the goats go about their business. When I mentioned to friends that we had rented goats, I realized that the enterprise had a very high “cool” factor. And we were able to rid our yard of those invasive nasties without using herbicides or fossil fuels.

When people asked how much it cost, I was tempted to say, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” The total charge was $575.

IMG_20150708_081749551Goat Girls was founded in 2010 by Hope Crolius, an old friend and newspaper colleague. Using goats to clear land is common in the West, and on the East Coast people are realizing the value of these prodigious weed-whackers. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst hired the Goat Girls to get rid of poison ivy on their trails, and some people use them to clear land where they want to start a garden. The Goat Girls even eat Christmas trees!

IMG_20150713_095654943The back part of our property is visible once again. We can now encourage useful or beautiful plants like ostrich fern, elderberry and fuki, along with the existing oak, willow, red maple and tamarack trees. There’s still work to do clipping and hauling the woody stalks of the invasive plants, and hacking them down when they grow back. But it is pleasing to see a longer vista out our kitchen window instead of a solid wall of  jungle vegetation.

The Goat Girls definitely earned their keep!

For new readers of this blog, here’s a handy index of more than 120 past posts, separated into categories such as simple living, frugality, gardening, fruits & vegetables, life lessons and climate change.



3 thoughts on “Goats for rent

  1. This is SO COOL! I wish Star (Eversource) would use goats to remove vegetation under the power lines of Cape Cod instead of the planned herbicides. Goats are so much better for the environment. Kudos for having thought to rent some.

  2. Pingback: Past posts: A simple living index | Adventures in the good life

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