In Prospect Park, Brooklyn, today, the forecast might read: ‘sunny with a good chance of goating.’ That’s right . . . this park right about this time of year is overrun with goats all shapes and sizes. And for good reason. With unattended fallen trees that are a sad reminder of a tornado that hit the park some six years ago, on top of damage left from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, there’s a lot of refuse strewn about on this green space. Plus, the overgrown vegetation that has a choke-hold on one section of the park — known as the Vale of Cashmere — is actually harmful to man because it contains some hard-to-remove poison ivy.
Goats entering stage left. . .
The solution for this problem however proved to be simple, based on a premise set elsewhere in the States. In my previous blog “Y’Herd Me?Landscaping Can Get Your Goat,” the remedy for New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina was to bring in some goats.
Hired by the Prospect Park Alliance at $15,000 for the summer season of 2016, the eight-member herd will help restore the Vale of Cashmere, “a dilapidated nook that looks as if it would be right at home at Grey Gardens,” according to NY Times correspondent Jonathan Wolfe.
Herded in from Rhinebeck, NY, these goats are perfect groundskeepers as they are known to eat about 20 percent of their body weight daily. And in appears that tops on their menu choices is of all things — poison ivy. In fact, according to their goat herder Larry Cihanek, “they love it.”
Once the goats—who arrived on May 16th—do their job, the Alliance says their grounds work team will enhance the woodlands with new native plants and trees. And while herd is on the clock, the organizers have scheduled some fun ‘goat-centric' activities that includes a wine and cheese evening soirée in the park, in addition to recreational workshops that teach visitors how to turn goats' milk into ice cream, and spin wool fibers into thread. A full itinerary of these special events can be found here.
The hungry workforce comes from Green Goats in Rhinebeck, New York. They are a mix of of pygmy, nubian, and angora goats, many of which are older animals that have retired from farm life.
They’ll take residence in a fenced-in part of the Northeast Perimeter from mid-May through the early fall, and will be on-site all day, every day.
Apparently not much supervision is required. The eight goat team will be provided with water, but otherwise they’ll be free to wander and munch to their heart's content. “We’re not too concerned about them getting to things we don’t want them eating,” says Grace McCreight of the Prospect Park Alliance.
Sounds like a win-win for man and beast. Goats get an all-you- can-eat-daily-buffet, and the park’s management and attendees get a spanking-new cleaned-up park they can be proud to have their family and friends visit.