by Ben Gagnon | Gazette, The (Colorado Springs) | Sep 25, 1999
TETON VILLAGE, Wyo. – On a nearby ranch, a lawn was being weeded, but there were no chemicals in sight, no gardening tools being wielded or even work gloves to be seen.
Instead, 300 goats were having lunch.
The goats belong to Jackson Hole valley resident Lani Lamming, who leases them out up to six months at a time to solve the weed dilemmas of ranchers and residents across the country.
Her goats – she has more than 700 in all – have been attracting some serious attention.
They have been featured in The New York Times, People Magazine and on CBS news.
Lamming’s goats have recently finished getting rid of weeds at the Snake River Ranch and last week were onto their next project on land adjacent to C-V Ranch.
Weeds are part of the goat’s natural diets, and they can digest weeds no other animals on earth can eat without dying – specifically, poison hemlock.
Lamming’s goats also are fond of spotted napweed, Canada thistle, musk thistle and dalmation toad flax, all of which are invasive non- native weeds that grow locally.
The goats do eat grass, but only as a last resort. Therefore, at the end of the day when the weeds are gone, the grass remains. The field serving them their food looked like a white, silver, black and apricot-colored blanket, so many goats were on the grounds.
Lamming likes the apricot-colored goats best. Besides the goats she has in Teton County, Lamming has another 400 in Denver, where she goes once a month to check on them.
Lamming presides over the goats with the help of her husband, Fred, who supervises the Teton County Weed and Pest District.
The couple met at a weed conference. “These are working goats and they know it,” Lamming said, leaning on a shepherd staff. “They have a purpose. They’re fun to be around. These guys love to work and they like to eat.”
For Lamming, the job is low-maintenance. All she really needs to do is check on them because Scoot, the Lammings’ dutiful border collie, happily rushes to herd the goats that stray.
When the goats heard Lamming whistle, they stopped playing and gorging. Lamming whistled for Sarge, the oldest of the goats and their leader, to come to her.
At first, Sarge hesitated, unusual for a goat who usually comes promptly when called from even a mile away. As Lamming whistled, all of the other goats, who were busy eating, stopped their meal and watched Sarge, waiting to see what he would do.
When Sarge finally ran to Lamming, all of the other goats followed in two single-file lines.
If she can handle Sarge, Lamming said, “I can handle the whole herd.”
She first got into the weed-eating goat business in graduate school at Colorado State University, where she received a master’s degree in weed science. Aware of goats’ affinity for weeds, Lamming said, “I thought it would make a good service, but I had never seen a goat in my life.”
She met a woman who owned some goats and things began to click. Since it was launched more than one year ago, Lamming’s business has taken off.
Based on the number of calls she has received for goat weeding in the last year, she should have 20,000 goats, she said, but for now, 700 will have to do.
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