No, actually, I wouldn't*. Even human foragers don't want to munch English ivy, poison ivy, goutweed, and other invasive plants that have run riot in now-sunny areas of Prospect Park after hundreds of trees fell victim to Superstorm Sandy.
But goats? They'll be happy to help. The park has hired a gang of experienced weed-whackers from green-goats.com, the brainchild of former dairy goat farmers Ann and Larry Cihanek. Their team of power-mowers has already gone to work in Liberty State Park and Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, among other urban sites; this, however, is the first time that goats have come to the rescue in Brooklyn. And predictably, the media went mad.
At a press conference yesterday, park officials introduced members of the press to the eight goats who will work, in three teams, in fenced enclosures along the park's steeply hilly and overgrown eastern edge, as part of a multi-year woodlands restoration program.
This guy, named Raptor, was more interested in nibbling bark than weeds. (For this reason, some young trees will get goat-guards.) Raptor is a breed called the La Mancha, bred for almost non-existent outer ears. This collegue more than made up for it with extravagantly lengthy ones.
Photographers called out pleadingly to the goats in paparazzi fashion, but while some had perfected "Blue Steel" and even "Magnum," others shrugged off the attention with goatish aplomb.
Few visitors petted the goats, although we were not forbidden to do so, perhaps because we were warned they might have rubbed their hairy flanks on poison ivy. Undeterred, I bonded with a perfectly charming goat named Skittles. I am a goat-whisperer! (Hint: If they are scratching their backs with their horns, scratch that spot for them.)
Needles to say, this being Brooklyn, concerns were voiced over the goats winding up as someone's dinner. Mr. Cihanek said he wasn't worried; the goats, he recounted, tend to bring out the protective best in people. The few who have escaped their enclosures have been rounded up and returned, often by folks from cultures fond of their culinary potential. Let's face it: People love these creatures, and not just because their four stomachs can handle 25% of their body weight in vegetation every day. The goats will remain in the park, says the Alliance, "until their work is done."
The woodlands restoration, funded by post-Sandy grant money from the National Parks Service via New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, goes beyond goats. According to the Prospect Park Alliance, historic preservation work will happen sometime in the future in the (sadly neglected) Vale of Cashmere (whose leaky pond, right, is now a mucky swamp) and also atop Lookout Hill, whose trees were decimated by Sandy.
- Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
- A kiddley divey too, Wooden shoe!"