My Google alert popped up two articles this morning.
The first, from the Salt Lake Tribune. The notice against copying their article is pretty prominent, so I'll be safe and make you follow the link to read the article. Full link with some neat pictures here.
Weed problem? Hire some goats
By alicia greenleigh
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated Jul 27, 2010 04:08PM
Goats may be the garbage-disposals of the animal world, but a new landscaping trend has them putting their stomachs to work.
The second is from a Seattle Post Intelligencer blog, here. I spent a week with Tammy Dunakin in 2008. She's the owner of this herd and the business Rent-A-Ruminant covered in the article below.
Add this to the tourism guidebooks: Seattle's goats
You know you're vacationing in Seattle (or the Swiss Alps) when...
Upon leaving your hotel, you see goats grazing underneath a viaduct.
At first, Becka and Kirstyn Lazur thought the animals were horses. The sisters, in Seattle on vacation, spotted the goats as they walked away from their hotel late Tuesday morning.
A closer look showed the animals were too small to be horses. On second thought, they were probably too hungry as well.
"We thought it was a museum -- some kind of goat exhibit," said Becka Lazur, who is from Connecticut. Her sister is from Los Angeles.
Not so. The animals seen scouring the Pine Street Hill Climb this week might best be described as working goats -- a new social class of Capra aegagrus hircus that's showing its face around Seattle more often lately.
Just think of them as hairy little eating machines.
The goats spotted by the Lazur sisters Tuesday belong to Rent-A-Ruminant, a Vashon Island-based company that rents goats out to property owners and government agencies who need to clear vegetation.
The goats will be clearing the hillside through Friday.
In this case, Rent-A-Ruminant was hired by the Seattle Department of Transportation. The Pine Street Hill Climb was too steep to be cleared with equipment. And prolific drug use under that area of the Alaskan Way Viaduct means the area is riddled with needles and other paraphernalia dangerous to humans.
But not to goats.
"Goats don't catch people diseases," said Rent-A-Ruminant owner Tammy Dunakin. "I've never had a goat come down with an injury. It's amazing what they can be around and not get injured."
Dunakin said business has been good for her company this year. The goats-for-hire industry is still catching on locally, and it hasn't penetrated many markets in other parts of the country yet.
Besides being an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional methods of clearing landscape, Dunakin said her herd of 60 goats adds something special to the neighborhoods in which they work.
"People just love it," she said. "They stop and take pictures, and they ask questions. It just makes people really stop and chill out -- and it makes them happy."
Chloe and Josie Margarones (ages 9 and 7 respectively) stopped to watch the goats Tuesday with their mother and 3-year-old brother. The family drove from their Seattle home to Alaskan Way specifically to watch the goats -- and to learn a little more about the animals.
The sisters were worried at first that the goats might get a stomach ache from eating so much.
"We had a big, long discussion about how goat mouths are different from ours, and how they can do this," said the girls' mother, Leslie Margarones.
Three-year-old Nikolas knew what was up: "They're eating a snack."
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