Arts & Leisure Gardening

Have you heard about goatscaping?

ZORA, THE LEADER of the “goatscaping” herd hired to clear away brush in an eco-friendly way, digs into her job on a Middlebury property. Photo by Doreen Peterson

Zora, quiet, commanding, leader, with purple graced around her neck, motions the group she has charge of. A nod of the head indicating this is my area, you work that patch. Her group of five have purpose, happy to be guided, never ceasing in complete annihilation of vegetation. The quietest of munching. You wish your uncle Harry would eat so quietly at the Thanksgiving table.

Zora, a cashmere goat accompanied by her four goat workers, brings gentleness and peacefulness to the typically clamorous task of removing vines, shrubs and all else that resolve to grow where you envisioned a meticulously maintained lawn.

THREE GOAT MEMBERS of the Soil Rich crew check out the watering tub inside the cordoned off area they are designated to devour. Photo by Doreen Peterson

This morning the trailer containing Zora, Tulip, Strawberry, Biscuit and Garnet arrived at our neighbor’s yard. Oh so silently they were led to the pen that had been set up the night before. Yellow-checkered mesh, holding a small electric charge outlines the vegetation area that will be cleared by the goats. A large watering tub lies on one side of the pen, assuring great hydration throughout the day.

The task does not need to be explained, or broken down into smaller tasks; the workers do not need encouragement. Simplicity, enjoyment, this is what the goats do best — EAT! And eat they did.

They quickly developed their own strategies. Tunneling, obviously a favorite, began the day, that is, until the littlest one could no longer see her friends and began a soft bleat. It increased in volume until one of the other goats found it to be important or annoying enough to respond. The chorus continued until the young goat again laid eyes on her friend. But the drama did not end there. Zora, cherishes and demands the tranquility of her work, and quickly responds to such a ruckus, (barely above a whisper to my ears) assuring the youngest will make more of an effort to keep close to her companions in future eating endeavors.

The expansive eating continues all morning, taking a small break, only after hours of munching, laying down, for the briefest of breaks, only to rise and continue eating. What manager would not love workers with such conviction in their tasks? They are impressive, in beautiful shape, not fat, so one needs to ask, how do they do it?

Alex McCarthy and Bridget Gosselin, are offering “goatscaping” through the company they created, Soil Rich LLC (soilrichvt.com), located in Middlebury. They bring their goats to clear difficult areas of your property in an eco-friendly process. And for some homeowners the huge bonus is the visit of goats onto their property.

When asked, Alex and Bridget will describe each goat’s personality and the social structure of the group they brought. They are happy to share the over abundance of knowledge of their goats, and all the wonderful adventures they are having with raising and nurturing them. The welfare of the goats is their primary concern. They watch closely as the goats manage the work, making sure they are safe, that there are no obstacles that will be difficult for them. Several times, Alex or Bridget would hop into the fenced area to assist in making the goats area more manageable.

They are finding this community extremely welcoming to their new business and they say their bookings are showing that goatscaping is filling a need in this area of Vermont.

Few moments in life bring together all that is good, all that is gentle, working toward the same goal, clearing land, providing food, quietness, harmony between goats and humans. It was a morning of meditation watching Zora and her accomplices working. What joy the goats have brought to our community.

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