Brooklyn’s Backyard celebrated the grand return of its four cloven-footed weed munchers on May 10, when a herd of goats who the Prospect Park Alliance hired to snack the summer away on grass, weeds, and even poison ivy returned to Prospect Park.
The furry weed whackers are highly effective, non-toxic, and always come to work on time, according to Prospect Park Alliance Forestry Technician Alexandra Kerr.
“The goats, they’re pretty productive,” Kerr said. “That’s why we brought them back this year.”
Last year, the alliance hired a whopping eight goats to munch on unwanted plant stuff, and the four-legged lawn mowers proved so effective, park managers sent them back to the farm for fear they’d start gnawing on more attractive leafy greens the park would rather keep undigested, according to Kerr.
This year, they decided on hiring roughly half the number of seasonal laborers, including a New Zealand kiko goat named Max — who stands out thanks to his black coat and curly horns — and three Swiss Tauernsheck goats named Unicorn, Swirl, and Cinnamon.
Max is the only goat returning from last year’s job, and he’s also the most active in trying to escape the goat’s hilly enclosure in the Vale of Kashmere, said Kerr, who hinted that he may coming up with a plan to break out.
“He’s the one brushing up while we open the gate, and I think he’s studying how we put the fences together,” she said.
Max is also very affectionate, according to Kerr, although she said her favorite is the other man of the herd, Unicorn.
“Max is definitely the one who comes up to me more, but I really like Unicorn,” she said. “He’s very sweet and docile.”
The goats will munch away on weeds in the Vale of Kashmere for a few weeks, before park managers send them over to Lookout Hill, where they’ll continue their important mission of filling their 16 bellies — each goat has four — with undesirable plants.
Meanwhile, park workers will be shoring up the hill at Vale of Kashmere against erosion, as they plant more-welcome species of shrubs and ground cover as part of a federally funded restoration project.
It’s unclear exactly how long the goats will be in the park, and while Kerr suspects they’ll be there until September, their stay is dependent in part on how hungry they are and how quickly they chew through Prospect Park’s less welcome plants.
Of course, not all goat grazing stories end well. In 2014, animals used to clear unwanted green in Dumbo where loaded into a butcher’s van and sent to their doom.
The Prospect Park Alliance is inviting park patrons to get up close and personal with their four-legged employees at Prospect’s Lefferts Historic House [452 Flatbush Ave. near Ocean Avenue in Prospect Park] May 21, 1–4 pm. Free.
*Yes, we understand they are goat and not sheep. But we figured we could get away with it.