by the Farm/Fields Subcommittee of the Land Conservation Committee, and Thom Wright, Paul Westerfield
We have made great progress removing invasive plants, but we still have large thickets of multiflora rose, which crowds out native plants and diminishes the nesting success of birds (U.S. forest service: (http://na.fs.fed.us/spfo/invasiveplants/factsheets/pdf/multiflora-rose.pdf )
To remove these impenetrable thickets, we could spray with glyphosate herbicide, we could flatten them every year with a ground-compacting, gas-burning brush-hogger, or….
Hey, how about getting goats to eat them? A Boston Globe article recently reported on the growing use of goats, which love to eat the roses, thorns and all. Their hooves do not compact the soil as a tractor does; their stomachs grind up the seeds; they leave behind natural fertilizer; and they get into crevices that a tractor would miss. Goats are enclosed in solar-electric net fencing that can be moved wherever needed. (http://www.thegoatgirls.com/see-goat-girls-in-boston-globe/)
Some of us will remember cuddling the two adorable little goats that Dining Services Director Paul Westerfield brought to the Inn awhile ago. Paul has them now at his farm.
Paul and Thom asked the Fields and Farms Subcommittee of the Land Conservation Committee to discuss bringing the two goats to our land to eat invasive plants. Paul would be in charge of the goats’ housing, fencing, water, health, and safety. The subcommittee did not want to put itself in the position of voting whether or not to approve the goats. However, they were intrigued. Members expressed enthusiasm and also raised some cautions. “Let’s try it” was the general sense of their reaction.