I recently heard of a guy who was getting nasty letters from his HOA because he was, shall we say, less than dutiful in keeping his large lawn mowed. Rather than firing up the mower, he bought three sheep (he obviously had adequate fencing). They kept his grass cut for the summer. He sold the fattened sheep in the fall and made a tidy profit. Plus he saved money on gas for the mower not to mention the time he saved letting the sheep do his work.

Now here’s a guy who is renting out goats to eradicate weeds.

Washington D.C.’s Historic Congressional Cemetery is welcoming some strange guests to its 35 acres this week.

They’ve “hired” approximately six dozen goats, or about two herds, for $750 a day to rid the area of invasive species like poison ivy.

“They really are veracious eaters,” said Lauren Maloy, the program director at the cemetery. “They will eat anything in sight so given a week, hopefully they will clear the whole area.”

A rather elegant solution assuming they can keep the goats from eating things they shouldn’t. Perhaps in the near future we’ll see sheep and goats grazing where once only John Deere was allowed to operate.

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Mark T. Mitchell
Mark T. Mitchell teaches political theory at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA. He is the author Michael Polanyi: The Art of Knowing and The Politics of Gratitude: Scale, Place, and Community in a Global Age (Potomac Books, 2012). He is co-editor of another book titled, The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry. Currently he is writing a book on private property. In 2008-9, while on sabbatical at Princeton University, he and Jeremy Beer hatched a plan to start a website dedicated to political decentralism, economic localism, and cultural regionalism. A group of like-minded people quickly formed around these ideas, and in March 2009, FPR was launched. Although he was raised in Montana and still occasionally longs for the west, he lives in Virginia with his wife, three sons and one daughter where they are in the process of turning a few acres into a small farm. See books written by Mark Mitchell.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I’m skeptical. Goats want to eat the good stuff, the stuff you like to look at. They will eat nettles OK (high in protein) but only when they are desperate will they turn to some of the weeds you most want to be rid of. Maybe it’s different with poison ivy, though. I can’t speak from experience about that one.

    I never thought of poison ivy as an invasive species, since it’s a native plant. But I see that some people include it in that category.

  2. From the couple of places I’ve seen them in action as weed-clearers, they seem to be pretty good at getting rid of kudzu, leaf, stem and root. Though, kudzu is a pretty yummy plant from all accounts, and not just for goats, so perhaps it isn’t the best example.

  3. When I lived in Seattle, goats were a common way of keeping down the blackberries (which are an invasive species in the NW). The goats do in fact prefer to eat almost anything other than blackberries, but the key is to fence them such that the blackberries are the only things available. This works mainly because blackberries form large hedges that are easy to fence.

  4. We’re way ahead of you here in Idaho. There’s an actual business called “We Rent Goats” that rents goats to eat noxious weeds and create fire breaks throughout the area. They’ve become local celebrities.

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