Meet the gardeners... Image credit: Goat Patrol
When I wrote about learning how to scythe, commenter Dallas asked "whatever happened to using goats?" Actually, the practice is alive and well. Arizona has already hired goats to clear brush
, and a company in Carrboro, NC is offering goat-based, chemical free land clearance that they claim is the greenest option out there. But is it? Goat Patrol brings its team of crack vegetation clearance specialists (aka goats) wherever they are needed to clear scrub, from blackberries to kudzu - apparently they even love chomping on poison ivy! Servicing homeowners, businesses and even the local town council, Goat Patrol will assess an area needing to be cleared - including checking for potentially hazardous plants like rhododendrons - and then set up an electric fence to contain the goats in the desired area. They then bring in the troops, and let them chomp until the job is done.
On the face of it this is about as green as it gets - bringing in creatures that were quite literally born to eat whatever stands in their way. However, the pedant in me has to ask this question - how far and how often are the goats transported? After all - moving around a truckload of goats has got to be a relatively energy intensive activity, compared to a couple of weed whackers. (Or even a can of roundup!)
I definitely don't mean to put the idea down. Certainly from a noise, local air pollution and runoff standpoint, Goat Patrol has got to be one of the greenest possible options. After all the byproduct is a great green fertilizer for the gardens that will be planted - and it could even produce milk if Goat Patrol were so inclined (they do not curently milk their goats). It is also a fantastic way to reengage people with the idea of using nature to manage nature - as opposed to just throwing whatever technology or chemistry we have at a problem and hoping it goes away.
But I must admit the efficiency angle worries me slightly. Maybe every neighborhood needs a goat patrol? That way they can be herded to where they need to go without the need for fossil fuels. If anyone else has ideas for greening the transport of these green landscapers (bike-powered goat trailer anybody?!), leave your comments below. Likewise, if you think I'm just being a pedantic so-and-so, feel free to let me know.