by Lynn Cornelius Jablonski | The Coloradoan | June 24, 1998
I was delighted to see the article, “Will Work for Food,” about goats as a tool in organic weed control.
My once spurge-infested acreage north of Fort Collins is not brown and dead from chemical herbicides, but a rich green living pasture due to those wonderful weed-eaters. While grazing is no quick fix, chemical management widely used is not working alone. Goats are the perfect addition to a management plan that is healthy for our increasingly polluted environment.
Our linear thinking needs to shift to a holistic one. It is evident that the dominant perspective of identifying a problem, then seeking to eradicate that problem in one fell swoop is unrealistic: We live in an ecosystem -each of us is part of this whole. Balance is critical and we cannot understand, or ever begin to heal our planet’s challenges by compartmentalizing our bodies and our environment, seeing each as independent from the other. Until we start to sense the interconnectedness of ourselves and the earth we will never overcome any environmental problem.
I am learning that dealing with weeds is complex, and until we get past the instant gratification mentality of wanting that quick fix, we will always be at odds with the Earth.
I believe we need to employ all the tools we can to achieve balance. While chemical herbicides may be useful, indeed necessary in certain areas, fragile ecosystems around wetlands and waterways need sensitivity in the approach to weed control. Goats are a wonderful part of the solution, the perfect companion to a holistic weed control program. They not only have an appetite for spurge and other noxious weeds, they encourage healthier soil through fertilization, and their hoof action aerates and conditions the soil.
Another important aspect often over-looked is the benefit of watching the cycle of life in my own backyard. To see babies that have been born since these goats have been here. I’ve interacted with this land I live on more this past month than any other time. Observing these creatures has been immensely satisfying -an intelligence and gentleness exists in these animals that could teach us all about what it means to be living with the earth, getting into step with the cadence of its rhythms.
I would like to recognize and thank Loyd Berry and the Larimer County Weed Control office for adopting goat grazing management into their cost-share program, and for showing a willingness to work toward a healthier environment.
Lynn Cornelius Jablonski lives in Fort Collins