The Manner of Goats
By: Marc Deprey
I don’t know everything about goats, but I do work in land conservation and deal with landowners who face problems with invasive species of plants and livestock issues. What I do know is that goats are nature’s eliminator. They really do eat anything and everything.
Around here in northern California, we have a species of blackberry (see Carolyn Robbins, How to Eradicate Blackberry Bushes) that is not native and is extremely invasive. It pretty much takes over any place that has water anytime during the year and since we usually have rain all winter long, that pretty much means everywhere. The blackberries are as delicious as the thorns are sharp and gnarly. So picking a berry can be a bloody affair. Birds somehow get the berries on top of the bush, but everyone else needs to prepare for a prick or two, except the goats. They eat the berries, the stalk, the thorns—well, the whole darn thing! And it doesn’t effect them even a little.
I can’t even put my hand near these bushes before I get my shirt grabbed by the thorns and I find myself trying to walk backwards while being seemingly dragged in. I’ve seen people use a bulldozer on these berry bushes and two weeks later they’re regenerating. People around here hire goat herders to get berry bushes removed and it takes about a day and costs a couple of hundred dollars. They also fertilize the ground for free while doing it.
Why write about goats here? Because when it comes to chaos, stress, disregulation, and manipulation, our kids are goats. They don’t get pricked when hurling insults at us, they can eat the thorns of anger, and they are suited to a way of being that is unhealthy for us. I can’t eat blackberry vines. But my kids can. Now figure we are trying to teach a goat manners. Sounds hard, huh? But luckily ATN is here to help.