Goats arrive to landscape the highlands
July 14, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah Highlands’ backyards will resemble barnyards for the next few weeks as goats landscape vacant land.
About 120 rented goats set to work July 6 on about a half-acre along 24th Avenue Northeast. Goats are nibbling high grass and invasive species, such as Himalayan blackberry and Scotch broom.
The first herd — from Rent-a-Ruminant, of Vashon Island — chomped across TV screens and YouTube in a lighthearted spot about goat landscapers for PEMCO Insurance.
Watch the four-legged landscapers work from three locations: South Pond, where goats will work on the hillside between the pond and homes on 24th Avenue Northeast; 1499 24th Ave. N.E., where a trailhead meets homes located above South Pond; and two trails that cross a large tract where goats began working July 11. Access points for the trails are at 30th Avenue Northeast at the west end of Harrison Street, or from 28th Avenue Northeast at Julep Street.
Issaquah Highlands Community Association Landscape Manager Russ Ayers said he and his colleagues hoped for the goats to cut down on unsightly, unwanted vegetation.
“It’s not just to mow the grass,” Ayers said.
A second herd was set to arrive from Healing Hooves, of Edwall, Wash., within days of the arrival of the Rent-a-Ruminant goats. All told, about 350 goats will nosh on 12 acres of highlands hillsides before the month is out.
Rent-a-Ruminant owner Tammy Dunakin set up a lawn chair to watch the goats work and occasionally slide down the hillside on their hindquarters.
“They’ve eaten a lot already and they’re having fun,” she said.
Dunakin said she planned to sleep in her pickup to spend the night alongside the herd.
Ali Harris and her 17-month-old daughter Abby walked to a side street July 7 off 24th Avenue Northeast to watch the goats work.
“Any way to get rid of weeds is fine by us,” Harris said.
Ayers said the community association turned to ruminants because areas in need of landscaping are too steep for human crews to reach safely or cheaply.
He said nearby residents welcomed the goats. For instance, homeowners nearest the site talked about throwing a wine-and-goat-cheese party.