Working goats?


“A goat will eat anything. A goat could probably eat a bike.”

— David Guion

Just this week two dozen goats were brought into New York City’s Riverside Park to help curb the spread of invasive plants. The goats were put in the park as part of an effort to curb invasive species and keep the forest safer and sunlit for a variety of woodland creatures. Probably because it is 2021 and we spent 2020 not doing much of anything but social distancing, this was a huge event with people lining up to take photos and stare in wonder at the goats parading about.  


I honestly think city people are just wired differently than country types. I can offer someone a glimpse of goats wandering around doing whatever they want at our house anytime. No appointment necessary. My social media regularly features lost and found livestock. 

“Large pig seen running east on State Route 558” or “Three holsteins in our front yard. Please retrieve.”  

Are urban goats better trained than mine? Are these professional, masters-level, goats? I ask because mine make a beeline for our front porch, back of the barn and anywhere they are NOT supposed to be if left to graze. Are NYC goats somehow immune to this temptation? If not, I am imagining a herd of goats just milling about the front of the MET. Perhaps hailing a cab.  

In mid-2020, a San Jose, California, neighborhood was inundated when 200 goats flaunting all social distancing guidelines descended on their manicured lawns and streets after they broke free from a nearby hillside they had been hired to clear.  

Back in 2018, dozens of goats grazed a suburb of Boise, Idaho, after they walked off the job at a nearby park. They were eventually rounded up but not before doing some damage to a number of suburban landscapes. It turns out goats are not that discerning. Wild flora and carefully cultivated suburban landscaping are surprisingly similar to a goat’s palate.

In 2015, Seattle police took 10 goats into custody after the goats allegedly ran free threatening children before finally being detained. I wonder if they called them the Billy Goats Gruff gang?  

These incidents sound much more like the work ethic of the goats I know.  


We started out with goats because my mother-in-law has a wonderful sense of humor and thought they made great gifts for our children. She was correct, and I have mostly forgiven her. 

The selling point for the adults was that goats are so awesome at keeping ravines and other tricky spaces clear. We have many acres that run along the property and up into the old orchard. It’s just too much to mow. Goats seemed PERFECT. They could happily munch away, and we would keep the wilderness somewhat at bay.  

Then, I spent years chasing goats around our property. Goats, for the record, who have ample pasture, fruit and berries, even a clear running creek. They spend too much time looking to escape that I think they deeply suspect the grass simply must be greener on the other side of the fence. They also believe that patio chair cushions are delicious.  

Once they taste sweet freedom — and my boxwoods — they seem reluctant to undertake anything I would call hard work. There are weeds they could pull, vines they could nibble and brush they could clear. Instead, they stand around on the patio or porch as if they are waiting for someone to take their order.  

Over the years our goats have been very helpful in eating some weeds in the ravine by the house. They have also eaten countless shrubs, string lights, a shopping bag and a pool noodle. Those are only the things we know about. I’m sure there have been more. They also get sweet feed and hay, mind you. I think the pool noodle is more of a delicacy.

I must have the wrong kind of goats. Mine are not working goats. They are not particularly well trained. They do not come when called. They are adorable though. Big eyes, sweet expressions, playful ways. For years people have asked me what kind of goats we have? Having learned of the wonders of “working goats” I now know the answer to that question.

What kind of goats do I have? Decorative ones.  


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Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in rural Appalachia with the always popular Mr. Wonderful, two small dogs, one large cat, two wandering goats, and a growing extended family.



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