Most people I know hate mowing their lawns. They hate getting up Saturday morning to battle their healthy grass that keeps stretching towards the sky. Some folk like to be up before dawn to attack their lawns while ignoring the muttered complaints from neighbors who hate to be woken up by the noise.
Some people prefer spending money to buy a riding mower so they can play as they attack the weekly growth while others like to use a push mower because its cheaper and leaves a smaller carbon footprint because it does not use gas.
The state of Oregon decided to go green rather than use mowers and people to take care of a 9 acre park near the capital in Salem. They hired a herd of goats to wander the property, eating to their hearts content while keeping the grass and invasive plants under control. Unfortunately, they forgot one thing about live animals. When an animal eats plants, it is going to produce poop. So if you hire a herd of 75 goats, they are going to provide quite an amount of poop that might be more than needed to fertilize the park.
This resulted in the city hiring people to clean up the extra poop from the park. In addition, the goats did not know they were only supposed to eat only the invasive plants. My experience with goats is they love to eat what ever they can. I'm not sure they know one plant from another unless its something that does not taste good.
So the city ended up firing the goats for three main reasons.
1. They indiscriminately ate the plants rather than just the invasive plants. The goats ate hazelnut and maple trees, blackberry leaves but not the thornes in addition to Armenian blackberry, English Ivy and other invasive plants that were choking out native plants.
2. The goats cost 5 times the amount of human landscapers. The goats cost a bit over $25,000 while a human with a prison work force only cost about 4000 in a 6 week period.
3. They left stinky poop scattered around the park. Many people detested the smell.
Friends who have used animals to keep their lawns "mowed", and maintained, set up a movable fence system so they could keep the animals within a certain space and moved the fence around before the animals could over eat the area or drop too much poop. Perhaps the issue was the goats could wonder around the 9 acre property at will?
The state of Oregon did say they would consider using the goats again for special projects but did not specify what constitutes a special project.
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