by Nancy Eaton
Al’s Goats of Springvale, Maine have been in residence in the backyard of the Waterford Library. Our goal is an environmentally safe method of eradicating poison ivy and other invasive species. Goats are a safe, nontoxic solution. Aside from the obvious goal of making our backyard safer for visitors, this is also our way to productively educate, honor, and celebrate the Keoka Lake Association’s 50th Anniversary of lake protection and stewardship.
Prior to the herd's arrival, a survey was conducted to determine exactly which plant species were growing on the property. Photos and cuttings were shared with Al’s biologist. Aside from poison ivy, we have ferns, blackberries, locust, wild cherries, buttercups, vetch, ground elder/bishop's weed, goat weed, nan’s bush, the usual saplings, and a number of other plants.
How does it work? According to Al Charon, poison ivy has no natural predators, so any plants eaten by the goats are naturally stressed, and this causes them to get crispy and die. Goat urine also effectively burns out the oils in the ivy. There are a few species toxic to goats, predominantly in the milkweed family, so the site is pre-evaluated for the safety of the goats. A special solar electric fence is placed around the entire area to be consumed, and each day the goats are placed inside. Their goat herder is generally with them throughout the day, and the goats sleep in a nearby trailer overnight. Small areas take just a few days, and goats can eat approximately one acre of vegetation in a month.
For those that missed visiting with them, the goats will also be returning for petting and socializing on Saturday July 3rd from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in the library backyard.