Rent-A-Goat

Ivy. Nigher-invulnerable than nigh-invulnerable

Brooke here:

So there’s the wisteria, and then there’s the ivy.  The wisteria is a nigh-invulnerable infestation similar to a b-movie villain… dastardly, nefarious, and numerous, but eventually beaten to submission.  Sure, it pops back up for the sequel (Wisteria on a Plane: Death Smells Fantastic) but it can and will be beaten.

And then there’s the ivy.

The ivy is everywhere.  Everywhere.  If it’s not paved or a tree, it’s covered in ivy.  In fact, most of the smaller trees are covered in ivy.  And wisteria.  But mostly ivy.  The bottom third of most of the larger trees are covered in ivy.  If something has been left outside for a couple of years, it has been covered in ivy.

We think it's a weight bench.

I described the situation to a guy at the local gardening center and asked for a recommendation.  He told me we should find a good realtor and look for an apartment.  But I think we might go with goats.

Wait, is that mint?

Apparently goats are murder on ivy.  I had always heard about renting livestock for various purposes… dogs to chase geese, geese to eat berries, and so on.  I just hadn’t realized that there was a nationally-renown goat rental agency local to Greensboro.  For about $400 a day, you can rent a herd of goats and the goats do what goats do.*  We’ve been planning to remove all of the ivy ourselves by hand, as hiring specialists to douse an acre and a half of land with chemicals and then haul the dead stuff out is close to $2000 and dang that’s a baffling amount of cash to give to someone to poison your yard.

So we’re looking into goats, because goats are cute, are environmentally-friendly(er), and we might as well go ahead and solidify our reputation as the neighborhood’s resident Crazy House before the holidays come around.

* I’m assuming this will involve some cleanup following the goats doing what they did, but such is life.

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22 thoughts on “Rent-A-Goat

  1. Anonymous

    Truly, the Goat is mightier than the Ivy.

    For my junior year of high school I left the south and went to a school in southern California, south of Fresno, and literally in the raisin fields. We had a goat and some sheep for the express purpose of keeping the huge field trimmed. Or so I assumed, because they did a great job of it. I recently moved to Charlotte, NC for college, and while I have yet to see goats, I could easily see this as goat country. At least it’s not bat country, because then I’d have to leave.

    I hope the goats help! It sounds much better to let loose furry livestock than to let loose deadly poison.

  2. djheydt

    There was this old song called Mairzy Doats…

    which translated, “Mares eat oats, does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy … a kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?”

    No, I wouldn’t, but if they will, go for it.

    Albany Hill, near where we used to live, is too steep to clean off with machinery, and it isn’t just a question there of ivy smothering everything: the weeds grow tall in the wet winter and spring and dry out in the summer, and you’re living in a tinder box. So the City of Albany rents goats every spring to eat up the weeds, which they do with dispatch.

    As for kudzu, I’m told you can make good paper out of it….

  3. annoyedwabbit

    My family had a few goats (only one now, alas) to act as lawnmowers and brush eaters, because we have a seven acre field surrounded by forest. Left alone, this would rapidly become a seven acre short forest surrounded by taller forest. Goats make great brusheaters, but you will probably want to rent them for more than one day – they start with the tastiest stuff, and then eat less and less appealing things as they get more and more bored. Oh, and all the trees where the goats are penned will end up neatly trimmed to the exact height of a goat on its hind legs, whatever that happens to be. 🙂

    Goat droppings are small, hard, and separate, like deer or rabbit droppings. Cleanup would be minimal – maybe taking a broom to any brick areas they happened to poop on.

    Our goats also ate wisteria, and adored mint.

      1. annoyedwabbit

        They ate our wisteria, as I recall. Then again we got goats partially so they would eat the poison oak… turns out our goats didn’t care so much for poison oak. *sigh* they’re weirdly picky.

  4. G

    I had a friend who had good success clearing weeds and ground cover and so on with a butane (I think) torch designed for the purpose.

  5. Stephen

    In New Zealand, the corresponding pest is gorse. In Scotland, they make great hedges out of it. In New Zealand, it went wild and covered the hillsides, great impenetrable mounds of the stuff. Tough, impossible to kill, and thorny.

    Goats are good for killing it off too. First you chop it out, then you put the goats in there to keep eating the shoots. Got to leave them there for months, though, so I wouldn’t want to rent them.

  6. Goats are wonderful at cleaning brush. If you end up liking them, you can also get a few of your own, let them have babies, get up at 5am to milk them, then remember to do it again at 5pm before dinner, and have goat milk whenever you want it. Goat meat isn’t bad from a less-than-one-year-old, also.

    That’s what I did. But I didn’t actually *like* goat’s milk, so I gave them to my sister.

    One or two goats around where I live would only cost about $50-100 each, and then you’d own them and they could take their time cleaning stuff out.

  7. My Word

    I don’t know what a goats costs over there, but I think it might be cheaper to buy a few goats. I would clear the trees out a bit first though.

  8. Rick

    Yeah, I would buy a goat or two if you have space. It’s cheaper, they don’t require feed, and they’re big enough that possums don’t carry them off.

  9. Katebat

    Buying the goats is a great idea, so long as there are no bans on livestock in a residential area. Some cities get all picky about that sort of thing. Might have something to do with them escaping and causing havoc in town, eating your neighbors azaleas and hydrangeas, that sort of thing. What stuck me as funny was you can rent a herd of goats for the express purpose of feeding them. Made me giggle. And as an offshoot, you’d have goat fertilizer spread throughout your yard for the same fee…. 🙂

    1. And that’s what I get for not reading the comments. You know, they also make great pack animals and you could never buy milk again if you let one kid– plus, goat’s milk is supposedly better for you than cow.

  10. Greg

    For the ivy covering the trees, what worked for me was to cut the base, and remove at least a one-inch section (I don’t trust the ivy not to try to grow across the gap, but that may not be needful). A few days later, the ivy up the trunk should be dying, but not yet so dry as to be brittle. Then you just get a crowbar to start a few feet of the ivy off of the trunk, and pull it like a rope. Just walk back away as you pull, and the angle will do the rest. All the little feet will give way well before the tree would (unless the tree is dead. Don’t screw around with a dead tree like that) and so then you will eventually get a giant pile of dead ivy, and an ivy-free tree.

  11. djheydt

    Owning your own goats sounds like a feasible plan, IF you want to and IF your local laws permit.

    As to the idea of getting one boy kid … grown billies tend to smell kind of pungent.

    1. annoyedwabbit

      A wether (castrated male goat) might make a good pet! We had two wethers, and they smelled no worse than goats usually do. They’re also not as unfriendly as the bucks can be.

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