Yes, they're exactly what they look like-goats:
A trip of goats, to be precise, in a section of grassland in our local park:
And, why are these lovely creatures, all 40 of them, all female, roaming about in the city?
Because of this brilliant idea:
This bit of grassland became public property fifty years ago. When it was private land, carragana bushes were planted to divide the area. Carragana was commonly used as a decorative hedge around here; unfortunately, it grows well, like a weed, and unless vigorously controlled, quickly takes over natural habitats:
|A Single Carragana "Bush"|
The goats were brought in as pesticide-free, natural weed control. They loved the vegetation, including the thistles, and were happy to visit with people who came to observe:
|The girls don't leave much on the carragana bushes; they'll stand on their hind legs to munch on vegetation up to 5 feet off the ground.|
This is a pilot project; the park authority will be looking into bringing goats in for the next few summers in an attempt to control what is fast becoming a massive weed infestation. (That's all gone-to-seed thistle on the hillside; all faces of the hill are covered with the stuff.)
I didn't bring a spindle with me. I wish I had-one of the goat herders was telling the children that cashmere came from goats. These goats had lost their undercoats for the summer, so I couldn't tell if they'd ever shed spinning fibre, but it would have been fun to give a quick demonstration of yarn making from goats. Lesson learned: never go anywhere without a spindle and fibre in your bag!