Goats return to the Issaquah Highlands

June 15, 2010

By Kirsten Johnson

Residents of the Issaquah Highlands welcomed herds of goats into their backyards last weekend.

On June 11, 120 goats were rented and brought to the highlands to eat a half-acre field of weeds by 28th Avenue and Julep Street. The goats came in for the second year in a row as an alternative weeding method to using human labor.

“The first time we brought the goats in, it was very successful,” said Russ Ayers, Issaquah Highlands Community Association landscape manager. “It is much better than using people. Hiring man-labor costs around $35,000 and the goats cost about a quarter of that.”

Along with costs, using goats as an alternative to standard weeding methods helps reduce the carbon footprint of the highlands community.

“This whole thing was really about going green. This whole community is about going green,” Ayers said.

The goats arrived via trailer from Rent-A-Ruminant, located on Vashon Island, where they reside in winter.

As soon as the trailer’s doors opened, the crowd gathered around cheered as the goats poured out and made their way to the field to begin munching away.

The goats were a comical delight for spectators to watch. Adam Pond, of Issaquah, came with his wife Ruby and daughter Nicole to see the goats for the second time after seeing them the previous year.

“They’re all really neat. They each have their own personalities,” Pond said. “My daughter laughed a lot at them last year and really enjoyed them.”

Members of the community seemed to agree that the goats are a unique, clever solution to a common weeding problem.

“The goats are much better than machinery and people hauling stuff. It’s really no fun for people to do this,” said Andy Beadle, of Issaquah.

“The fun thing is it lets all these city kids visualize, see and smell real goats working,” Ayers said.

Two hundred and fifty more goats are scheduled to arrive 10 days after the first herd. The goats will eat about 12 acres of weeds.

Kirsten Johnson: 392-6434 or isspress@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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2 Responses to “Goats return to the Issaquah Highlands”

  1. R. Butler on June 28th, 2010 10:09 am

    I think goats are a great idea when it comes to cleaning out berry vines, noxious weeds, scotch broom, and the like. They take only a couple of days to do their job, reduce costs and man-power.

    On that positive note, I’d like Ms. Johnson to take a look at the front page of the Seattle Times for Monday, June 28, 2010. Lupins are an important part of keeping pollinators healthy plus they are nitrogen fixers to the very poor natural soil of Issaquah Highlands. To call them ‘weeds’ is doing this valuable plant a dis-service.

    The green belts that are full of these important wildflowers were the first to be mowed down to bare dirt by the goat herds. This included the goats climbing and killing the pine trees and other deciduous trees planted by Port Blakely. Now we have no beautiful purple hillsides, no sweet scent, and no trees. With the mild winter and long spring weather these valuable plants, with their supporting ecosystem, stayed longer than usual – a real treat. Poor timing with the goats.

    Who will go out and remove all the trash and dead trees? There is a lot of it still left from last goat season.

  2. Issaquah Highlands goats featured on ‘The Colbert Report’ : The Issaquah Press – News, Sports, Classifieds in Issaquah, WA on October 14th, 2010 6:01 pm

    […] goats returned to highlands hillsides in June. The goats — more than 120 from Rent-A-Ruminant on Vashon Island […]

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