Monday, August 16, 2010

Got a big yard? Rent-a-Goat. Seriously.

Leave it to industrious Americans to find a way to make a couple of bucks replacing traditional lawnmowers with mother nature's original lawnmower/weedeater combination. The goat.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, August 4, that goat-rental companies are popping up all over the country with website names like, Their mission: clear your lot of grass, weeds, wood-hay-or-stubble with a good old fashioned goat. The Journal reports that in many cases goats are not only better for the environment, they are cheaper, too.

I have a personal interest in this story.

At least twenty years ago a close friend of mine, who is a potter by trade and a lover of all things mother earth, decided that he and his family were going to spend a few years teaching in Namibia, Africa. So he needed to unburden himself of all the things he couldn't store or care for. Two of those "things" were a male and female goat. He knew I had an acre lot with a fenced pen in the backyard and concluded that I was his best option for the goats.

"I need you to take my goats," he said, "they are no trouble and your kids will love them." Only one of those two statements was true. I didn't reply with a "yes" or a "no" to his request, but one day he arrived at the house and in the back of his green Ford station wagon sat the goats.

"Nobody else would take them and we're leaving tomorrow."

I took the goats.

I am city boy. I grew up thirty miles south of Philadelphia. Bottled milk was delivered to our door every morning. By a dairy. In a truck. My mother could walk to the grocery store. I walked to school. Nobody, and I mean nobody, had a farm animal in his yard within 10 miles of my house.

But that day, my daughter who had talked us into getting chickens and rabbits and kittens now had two goats.

All that to say -- when the Wall Street Journal story says that goats will clear a hillside of every living thing -- I believe them. I couldn't feed our goats enough shrubbery, pecan leaves, pecans, and yard clippings to keep them happy. They ate everything in sight.

Our goats lasted about six months at our east Fort Worth home, then we gave them to a goat farm. My friend is still teaching in Namibia. And the Wall Street Journal article is well worth reading.
My friend, John Hunter, teaching pottery in Namibia: click here
Wall Street Journal article: (click here)
Rent a Goat: (click here)

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