Sunday, April 6, 2008

Immediate Habitat Improvement

One of our major goals for the back woods is to restore it to a more native form and provide better wildlife habitat. This morning, we looked out the window to see a male Pileated Woodpecker feeding at one of the rotting stumps that had previously been covered with ivy (and surely filled with rats). We'd seen Pileateds in the yard on a fairly regular basis, but usually up high, or flying over. We've never had one feeding right at the edge of the lawn. Before long, he was joined by a female and they spent several minutes plucking away at the bark looking for beetles and other insects. Hopefully they found some and will be back. We'll be watching all the stumps for woodpecker activity.

The Goats Go Home

Noname doing who knows what.
Kalina hanging in the front yard with Spice.

After two weeks with us, the goats left on Tuesday. The job was basically done, so on their final day we brought them all onto the lawn to let them fill their bellies with grass as a thank you for a job well done (and to delay our having to lug out the mower).
Eight goats for 2 weeks has been just right for us. We needed that many goat/days to do the job. More goats for only one week would have been too hard to manage, and fewer goats for a longer time would have dragged on (the novelty was starting to wear off as we kept having to move goats who had pulled their stakes loose from the wet ground).

Spice desperately tries to reach the poisonous Rhododendron

Triona playing in the back yard with the goats
Dan bringing Spice up into the front yard - it's true what they say about goats being pack animals. They were NOT happy as soon as they were out of sight of their herdmates and they would all bleat plaintively back and forth until they could see each other again.
Together again

Kali feeds Delight an apple branch
Kali, unhappy to learn that feeding Delight an apple branch means she will actually take it away...

Bridget feeds herself an apple branch.

Dan bringing Google and Goggle up the driveway.

Spice warming up the driver's seat for Josh.

Loading the last goats up in the van.
We can't thank Jill, Josh, and their goats enough for helping us with this overwhelming job! It has been so fun to have the goats, and it's exciting to feel like we're making headway on the yard. We would absolutely recommend using goats to clear your brush, and renting them from the Goat Lady if you live in the Seattle area.
We are seriously considering getting a pair of goats permanently to help us stay on top of the brush (and to help entertain the neighborhood kids).
Final before and after pictures coming soon.....

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Goats Bring Out the Neighborhood

Triona comes face to face with Noname.

Almost immediately upon the goats' arrival, our next door neighbors were out on their deck checking out the strange goings on. Shortly thereafter, they were over in the yard making friends with our new guests. The Goat Lady told us this is a regular occurance for their clients - many get to know neighbors they've never met before.

We live in a neighborhood where pretty much everyone at least recognizes everyone else. It's a short dead end street, with a one block cul-de-sac, so there are about 20 houses altogether. It used to be the kind of neighborhood where the kids all knew each other and played together. While the goats were here, it was again.

One of the best parts of our goat experience has been the daily visits from the neighborhood kids (and their parents). Every day after school they would come to our yard to check on, feed, pet, help move, and untangle the goats. There was plenty of running, climbing, and getting stuck in the mud in the back woods too. It's what we envisioned when we bought the house, and Triona loved having four 10 year olds to follow around (who were all very patient).

If you are looking for a way to meet your neighbors, we highly recommend goats!

Thierry gives Obie some goat feed once the browse starts getting sparse.

Shannon (Thierry's mom) fends off Google who anxiously awaits a handful of goat feed.

Anna (our champion goat tender) says goodbye to Sugar and Delight on their last afternoon with us.