On the Use of Goats
I used to think that I didn’t like goats. My childhood memories of voracious petting zoo goats plowing through the cracked corn in my palm right down to the skin without courtesy or sympathy( you can tell this really affected me for a while) told me that goats were animals to steer clear of. Thankfully its still possible to keep an open mind these days and my experience with the two goats here at Bertrand Farm have rewired my brain to appreciate and enjoy working with these animals. I am even beginning to believe that I was a goatherd in a former life. Every evening I make a point to spend time with them. I usually walk out past their quarters and they know its time to forage. They follow me as I lead them to a spot that needs some weeds suppressed and there they go, eating away at the living salad of an invasive tomato family plant and some mugwort, and wild mustard. They even helped me find a new edible weed. its a mustard but it tastes very strongly of horseradish, its quite good as a garnish. They seem to prefer these wild invasives to grass and clover when in abundance and in good company. I think they feel safe in my presence, or they just know they will get attention for being good goats.
At the very least, these goats are useful and full of surprises. When put to the right task they are extremely useful and can turn toil and strife into profit and enjoyment of life. When faced with a problem, they are crafty and display incredible intelligence(though this is a euphemism in some cases). I had been reading that goats will eat almost anything green, which can be a blessing or a burden depending on how we use this habit. I have been reading a lot about some innovative people using goats to clear invasive vegetation from an overgrown area, leaving behind ‘plant-accessible nutrients'(manure), and then planting a food forest succession on the spot. The corners of our pasture could use a little rejuvenation, and I think grazing the goats there intensively could be the first step to creating a nice tree garden on each of the four. It could provide shade, forage and support diversity all at once. Here is a picture of one of our residents happily working for us, though I don’t think she sees it that way.