Monday, as I headed home from the grocery store, I noticed wire fencing along a stretch of the main road I couldn't recall seeing before. I also got a quick glimpse of what I thought were a couple of dogs behind the fence as I sped by. It struck me as odd but my brain quickly moved on to other things and I didn't give it any further thought until the next day as I headed home from a doctor's appointment and once again noticed the fencing. This time the "dogs" I thought I'd seen on Monday came more clearly into focus.
Lest you think this is unusual, I can tell you it isn't. Although I haven't seen a herd of goats quite this close to my neighborhood before, they're often used to clear brush on our peninsula, especially in connection with fire prevention efforts. You can find a video of a larger group hard at work in 2021 here.
I went home long enough to pick up my camera before heading back. In retrospect, it would have been smart to have picked up my telephoto lens too but, when parking in this area proved to be a bigger issue than I'd anticipated, I decided it would be best to quickly snap a few shots and be done with it before I got a ticket. Had the weather been cooler, I'd have walked the four miles round trip there and back but yesterday was the first day of what forecasters are predicting may be the worst heatwave of the summer season so that prospect wasn't at all appealing.
|He looked at me as if saying: "Are you talking to me?"|
|"What do you want?"|
|"You're interrupting my chewing."|
|Losing whatever interest he had in me, he turned back to business|
Two other goats were equally hard at work but the large majority were congregated in the shade at the top of the slope along the fence taking a break.
|Another industrious goat|
|This one paid me no attention whatsoever|
There was another group of goats further along the road of roughly equal size but the angle of the sun prevented me from getting a good photo of them. I'd guesstimate that this herd totaled 30-40 individuals. On numerous occasions, I've seen a woman walking a small crew of 4-6 goats, presumably leading them to or from small brush clearing assignments but there are services that hire out the animals en masse to clear larger areas. Fire Grazers is one of the most prominent but I've no idea where these particular goats came from. One source I found claimed that thirty goats can clear a half-acre area within three to four days. The goats will eat all kinds of brush, including poison ivy. Electrified fencing is often used to protect them from predators and prevent them from wandering off, and shepherds and guard dogs are often part of the package.
I hope the goats aren't bothered by the heat! It looks as though it could take them a few more days at least to clear that slope along its entire stretch. I have a couple more trips that will take me along the same route later this week and I'll be sure to check their progress.
All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party