Usually, it takes hard work and machinery to remove weeds and excess vegetation, but this time of the year it requires only big appetites.
For the 16th year, Lani Malmberg has brought her herd of more than 500 goats to eat their way to results at Bear Creek Park just outside of west Colorado Springs.
The goats are divided into two groups. One group consumes noxious weeds in the park to protect a community organic garden. Another group, overseen by Malmberg’s son, Donny Benz, is in the Mesa Road subdivision near Garden of the Gods, gobbling growth that could fuel wildfires.
It’s just one of many stops Malmberg and Benz make throughout the year as they hire out their gulping goats to similar jobs across much of the country.
“There’s getting to be more and more of this all the time as people are questioning pesticides and the health effects of pesticides and herbicides on people, on their pets, and on the earth,” Malmberg said. “This is a natural way to deal with all of that.”
Malmberg said the goats eat rough weeds and brush; fertilize, irrigate and aerate the soil; and mulch to make the soil healthier.
Three border collies help manage the goats, which will spend several weeks in the area.
The Bear Creek Garden Association, a nonprofit group that manages the community garden, raises money to pay for the goats.
Malmberg said the only problem the goats have is being threatened by unleashed dogs owned by park visitors. She said a dog attacked and injured a goat Wednesday, and asks that visitors obey the county’s leash law.