Meet "Momma"

Momma, the goat, enjoys some weeds as she “goatscapes.”

(Photo by Elaine Cushman Carroll)

The landscaping crew of five recently made its way through the wooded area behind a pair of homes on Wendell Park, searching for invasive plants like poison ivy.

With a stop here and there, the five discovered their target plants, and not being your typical landscapers, they promptly ate them.

The goatscaping had begun.

The crew of five Nigerian Dwarf goats (Big Momma, Momma, Socks, Charlie, and Marley) are owned by a local goat herder and part of an environmentally friendly movement to clear properties large and small of invasive plants without pesticides.

Goats, it turns out, love poison ivy and are not affected by the agents in it that can cause the itchy rash that plagues most humans.

Although the old-time comic book image of goats often showed them indiscriminately eating things such as tin cans, Harriet Manning and her neighbor Kathleen Patton, who hired the goats, were impressed with what delicate eaters they are.

They selected their targeted leaves and nibbled around overlooked other plants, including a deep carpet of English Ivy, which they don’t like to eat.

Manning said Big Momma came out of the truck driven by the local goat herder first, and Manning was able to lead her on a leash to an area next to the foundation of her house that was deep with poison ivy.

Manning was impressed when the goat nibbled with the ivy right up to the edge of her pachysandra, a groundcover she wanted to keep, and stopped.

After the goat herder, who is eschewing publicity at this point, made a thorough investigation of their joint backyard for possible dangers, a temporary fence was erected.

Manning said the goats scampered into the enclosure and started eating, and as predicted after about an hour of steady chewing, they stopped, lay down for a while, then got back up to eat some more.

With the constant ticking of the electrified fence in the background, Patton said she was enjoying just watching the goats.

Goats like to be in the company of other goats and often establish a pecking (or bunting) order among their members.

“Big Mamma is definitely the boss,” Patton said just minutes before Big Mamma gave Socks a solid head bump to his rear quarters to clear him from her path.

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