Goats Again at PVE
With all of the rain this spring, there is a good possibility that Laurel Creek may become choked with excess growth. What happens then? A few years ago, the creek was so overgrown with poison oak and other brush that it was invading the patios on the backside of the 3000 Building. What to do? Goats are used in most of the Bay Area to clear the brush to reduce the fire hazard and make the parks more usable for the public. PVE received permission from the Nature Conservancy to do the same.
That year was quite a sight. About 250 goats arrived with their goat herder and his Anatolian guard dog. For those not familiar with the Anatolian, they average about 200 pounds. Their primary purpose is goat protection at night from coyotes, wolves and even mountain lions. Their training begins at birth. The goat herder arrived in his truck with a trailer carrying the goats and his sleeping quarters. First, he installed a portable electric fence to keep the goats in a specific area. Some of our residents were skeptical about the goats eating poison oak. Certainly, the seeds would be passed through the goat and we would have more poison oak next year. Not true! The goat’s system neutralizes the seeds, so they do not grow.
The goats immediately attracted a fan club and chairs were set up, so residents could watch. The primary warning was to not try to pet them. No matter how strong the urge, don’t touch them. As they eat the poison oak and other foliage their heads get covered with pollen, liquid and who knows what else. It took a few days to convince some residents, who broke out in poison oak. And you did not try to pet the Anatolian for the same reason. Another surprise and bit of excitement was watching the goats climb into trees.
After about three weeks the goats were ready to depart. They provided extensive conversation among residents after they were gone. But lo and behold, in a couple of years they were back to once again clean up the new brush that had grown. This is a normal procedure, so the major invasion of the weeds could be permanently neutralized.
However, the major attraction of that year was that about 25 of the females were pregnant. So, by the time they left, there were at least two dozen new “weed eaters” with them. Since then the creek has been fairly easy to maintain and continues to be the beautiful natural area that we are fortunate enough to have running through the middle of our community.