Last week there were deer in my yard. The week before that it was a gopher, and the week before that a fox. Apparently, the fruits, veggies and flowers that I grow are so wonderful that they're irresistible to a variety of critters. So, I was more than a bit surprised when I learned that some homeowners are actually paying to have hungry goats move in and eat their landscape. If, like me, you're skeptical, read on to learn why you just might want to rent-a-goat.
3 reasons you want a goat hanging around
1. They provide eco-friendly control of weeds and brush. Avoid contaminating your landscape with harmful herbicides by employing goats to chomp down overgrown vegetation.
2. They produce manure that is beneficial to your garden. As an added benefit, goats will produce manure that is a valuable garden amendment containing vital nutrients.
3. They're personable and cute. Okay, cuteness is in the eye of the beholder, but goats are social creatures that enjoy the company of humans--especially kids.
There's a rent-a-goat organization near you
Throughout the country there are businesses that rent out goats to homeowners. Historically, these organizations have been more popular in the west, but they're quickly gaining popularity as far east as Maine.
Heather Lombard of Kennebunk, Maine, rents her herd of goats to local clients. According to the Portland Press Herald, "Clients can rent the Scapegoats herd – Bernadette, Cleo, Gertrude, Molly, Ray, Sawyer and Zephyr – for $500 a week. They can clear a quarter- to a half-acre a week, depending on the density of the growth."
Lombard cautions, "The herd will not trim the unwanted growth right down to the ground –after all, they’re goats, not lawnmowers...but they will eat the plants, strip most shrubs down to woody stalks and trample the brush into material that will be a lot easier for a property owner to clip and haul away, saving hours, if not days, of hard labor."
What happens once Lombard's goats arrive? According to the Portland Press Herald, "Lombard transports the herd to the property, sets up the fence and goat house, and checks on them every day, but clients have responsibilities, too. They must put out fresh water twice a day and check the voltage of the fence. If the fence needs to be moved during the week, Lombard charges an extra $75. The rest is up to the goats, who tend to work hardest in the early morning and midafternoon, in between short naps."
Rentagoat.com and Rentaruminant.com are national franchise goat rental organizations. Small business people like Lombard in Maine can be found throughout the country. Homeowners in the greater Seattle area can contact The Goat Lady. In Idaho try We Rent Goats. Enterprising goat owners also rent out their herds via Angie's List.
5 things to consider before the goats arrive
1. Local zoning regulations. It's a wise idea to consult local zoning codes before the goats arrive to be certain that they're permitted in your neighborhood.
2. Goats are boisterous. No, they don't blast hardcore rap from their stereos, but they are vocal. It's probably a good idea to give next door neighbors a heads-up that some noisy backyard guests are arriving.
3. They need a friend. Goats are herd animals, so they want at least one pal around. Only rent from rent-a-goat organizations that provide more than one goat.
4. Hard to corral. Goats are escape artists and chomp through many types of fence. So, give careful consideration to your fence before the herd arrives.
5. They won't mow your lawn. Goats don't eat grass. So, if you're looking for a lawn mower consider sheep.
photo of goat via Shutterstock