The hell with weed whackers. Wissahickon Valley Park prefers goats.
Since 2010, five of them, and one recently deceased, chewed away poison ivy and pesky weeds that dotted the park's five-acre landscape. But after three years, they're moving on to greener pastures.
Named after artists - Rodin, Wyeth, Kandinsky, Caravaggio, Goodwin, and the late Andy Warhol - the goats were part of an informal natural weed-removal study led by the Friends of the Wissahickon.
While it may be new to city dwellers, the use of goats as weed-eaters is not a new concept.
"That's the real reason goats have been on farms over hundreds of years," said Yvonne Post, the goat herd owner. "Because the farmer would always have one or two goats, their job would be to keep the growth down before we invented weed whackers."
Post announced recently that she and her daughter, Deirdre Sheehy, are taking the show on the road to promote the use of goats as sustainable weed control. Their cross-country journey starts Sunday.
The trip will take the goats through Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Montana before ending at their new home on a farm in Molalla, Oregon.
After trials in a few other locations, Post was approached by the Wissahickon group to bring her furry friends to Philly to help control the park's overgrowth. And in the process, she discovered the goats have an appetite for bamboo, poison ivy and other unsightly weeds.
The goats liked ivy so much, "they will actually go up on their hind legs to reach it on a tree," Post said.
Sarah Marley, outreach manager for the park friends, said while the Department of Recreation will use old-school methods such as hand-pulling and herbicides when the animals depart, she hopes to restock the herd in the near future.
The park plans to work with a group from Delaware to bring in some new talent. But the fab five were a special breed.
"We are going to miss the goats," Marley said, "For sure."
- The goats are sheered twice a year.
- They each produce about 3-5 pounds of fiber per sheering.
- After it's sheered, the fiber is processed and lanolin is washed out.
- Fibers are stretched together so it can be spun into yarn or used in other felt projects.