“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Goat Landscaping

Page A8 of the Trib-Review today has a small article titled, "Goats Take on Job of Clearing Meadow".

Andover, MA -- A Boston suburb has some new landscapers that will work for food; a half-dozen goats clearing and maintaining an overgrown public meadow.

Under a pilot program in Andover, Lucy McKain's dairy goats will rotate their grazing around the meadow for an all-you-can-eat buffet of grass, brush and other growth. The goats can clear as much as a half acre every three days at no cost. AP

Unfortunately I can't find it on their site. So I searched Andover, MA and found some history of the project in the Boston Globe and the Andover Townsman.

Town considers using goats to trim land By Bethany Bray

In an effort to go green, Andover may soon go goat....The plan would save the cost, man hours and pollution that goes with keeping the area up with large, commercial mowers, said Bob Decelle, conservation commission special project manager, and could be the start of a bigger program, encompassing other types of animals and additional conservation properties in town.In this summer photograph, you can see the line where the fence was moved from the prior grazing area. When you give the goats a limited amount at a time, they do a better job of clearing that one space. Otherwise they would just choose the best stuff and the rest would continue to grow and seed. That's where the use of the temporary fences comes in.

Here’s something to chew on

In Andover, a resident’s goats seem the answer to maintaining an overgrown park

'Unlike sheep, the goats will munch on the coarse and tall vegetation that has been spreading across the hillside meadow. If no action is taken, he said, the space could be lost as many Massachusetts meadows have, overtaken by advancing forests.

“There’s major ecological payback to having it stay as a meadow,’’ Douglas said. Songbirds, hawks, and nesting creatures such as mice, he said, all benefit from a meadow with forest on its edges.'

For sure the goats have made an impact on how much mowing has to be done on the few acres we have fenced. And then of course the fuel and pollution savings. We no longer see saplings in the field. The multiflora roses always fight back, but the goats love them.

Right now we have the kid herd outside the main fences with electronet, cleaning the alleys along the property lines, and any portion of fields we can stretch the fences to. We will continue to do this on clean areas (as in free from goat manure), till we get some real freeze. Then we can let them go back to some of the same areas and take the food down closer to the ground. Its amazing what they will eat as the choices get reduced.

Until then we keep moving fences to new grass and browse, and the goats get to chose their lunch. Soon the choices will be slim, and the hay will come out.

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