Monday, August 17, 2009

Furry, Friendly Weed Whackers... No Kidding!

Goats are revered worldwide for their handy milk, cheese, hair, and (eek!) meat. But here in the States, people have very little interest in goats outside their use as the (head)butt of jokes about animals who’ll eat just about anything. Late last month, however, the city of Carrboro put all “kidding” aside and decided to employ the goat’s oft-derided skill in clearing a dog park full of poison ivy. Articles from the Indy and WRAL chronicle the city’s efforts to rid the park of the itch-inducing weeds with the help of The Goat Patrol.

The Goat Patrol is an environmentally friendly shrub removal service run by Ms. Alix Bowman with the help of some awfully talented goats capable of clearing 1,000 sq. ft. of vegetation a day. Ms. Bowman became interested in goats as vegetation-clearing-devices after learning of their use on the west coast to beat back invasive plant species and to mitigate the risk of wildfires (Google even uses goats!). Both Ms. Bowman and Google praise the goats for their ability to clear land without the use of fossil fuels, unlike conventional mowing methods.

Along with the much-touted fuel efficiency comes the added benefit of non-toxic weed removal. Typically, toxic chemicals are used to kill obtrusive and unwanted plants and weeds. The city of Carrboro’s decision to use goats instead of the common practice of spraying, is another heartening example of how a little creative thinking and ingenuity can greatly reduce the amount of toxic chemicals so prevalent in lives today.

Also, a big WHAT UP to our founder and board member Allen Spalt for sharing these pics of the goats' handiwork.

BGP (Before Goat Patrol), and AGP


  1. I love this! I wish I had a couple of goats to take care of the budding poison ivy in my front yard, but somehow I think my neighbors in suburbia would not really appreciate it. Actually, I think there is a law against it.

    So, unfortunately, I guess I will have to resort to some poison, unless anyone has a better idea.

  2. Hi Mary! Try a vinegar and salt solution on your poison ivy - here's a recipe:
    Toxic Free NC's director recommends getting suited up in long pants, closed shoes, long sleeves, gloves, safety goggles, and something to cover your face before going out to tackle poison ivy. Waiting 'til winter when the vegetation dies back is also a good idea - there's less risk of getting poison ivy yourself while you work.
    Thanks for reading!

    Billie Karel, Program Coordinator
    Toxic Free NC
    206 New Bern Place, Raleigh, NC 27601

    (919) 833-1123
    toll-free: 1-877-NO-SPRAY

    Sign up for updates from Toxic Free NC at