Friday, August 9, 2013

Goats ~ Weed Control ~ Kamloops, BC

We love Kamloops and these very hot days of summer can often lead to finding something cool to keep ourselves from overheating.  We have beautiful parks and a cool refreshing river to spend time at or go boating but instead we would do some hiking today in Kenna Cartright Park, we’re on a mission. 

The goats have begun their climb up the hill in Kenna Cartright Park
Blue skies over Kenna Cartright Park, Kamloops, BC
Donna and Conrad Lindblom of Grande Praire, AB own Rocky Ridge Vegetation Control.  This weed control is a job actually done by goats with a lot of guidance from Donna and Conrad!  They have been hired by the city to bring 200 goats to eat these noxious weeds as an alternative to using pesticides on the hills of Kenna Cartright Park.  What a great idea!
We're getting closer to the herd of goats
Goats move across the hill
We stopped at their camp and had a visit with Donna but Conrad and the goats were already on their way to their job site and although we could see them, it looked like a long hot hike from where we stood.  Their destination was up and over that hill and I didn’t think that would happen for me so we quickened our step and hit the trails to see them before they disappeared over the hill.
The herd of goats moving across the hillside
Goats eat making the way to their destination
Lucky for us, Donna had called Conrad telling him we were on our way so he slowed the herd down a bit so we’d be able to catch up.  Conrad explained that the goats were eating knapweed and the toadflax which is going to seed by now, but goats digest what they eat so will not distribute the seeds in their droppings, unlike some other animals.  
These goats were only a few feet from the herd
Working the outside of the herd
The goats are quite intent on eating these weeds and waste little time doing that.  They stay together as a herd with very few stragglers, although some might wander a few feet away but not for long.  
Owner sits on his horse and watches the herd
Conrad Lindblom and Maverick watch the herd
Conrad rides a horse for herding the goats; today it is Maverick.  They zigzag their way across the hillside while the goats eat on the move.  We were surprised at how quickly they did move but they were on their way to ‘greener’ pastures to spend their morning.  
Their heads are down and the goats are busy eating
Goats eat their way across the hill
While Conrad took a moment to explain some of their job to us, the goats continued to move until he called out, “get back” and the herd of 200 goats really did all turn around and head back the other way across the hillside.  Once he caught up to them to carry on their way, Conrad says, “come on, let’s go” and that they did.  Well behaved goats! 
These goats are standing up in order to reach the best leaves at the top
They'll reach if they need to
Goats can eat between 4 to 5 lbs of weeds a day and that would be a lot of weeds!  Their small feet cause very little damage to the sensitive grasslands they’re grazing on so this is a win win situation. They can climb, too, so nothing will interfere in getting that tasty morsel on the higher branches.  The kids (baby goats) are with their mothers and are learning what their duty as part of this herd will be.  They’re never too young to learn.
The dogs watch the herd constantly, safeguarding and keeping them together.
Two of the watchful dogs
The Lindbloms also have dogs that work with the goat herd.  They paced around the herd and quietly do their job helping to keep the goats all together.  Their presence keeps the bears away so that protects the goats, as well.  
The Great Pyrenees at work keeping the herd together
The dog patrols the herd
The goats and dogs are not bothered by visitors nor are they concerned with anything other than their own job.  Hikers need not be worried about the dogs or goats while out on their walks.  There is a sign posted at the bottom of the hill asking that hikers keep their dogs on a leash while out on the hills. 
They've reached the crest of the hill and disappear behind the trees
They're on their way 
We stood and watched as they disappeared over the hill onto their next pasture.  Once the goats have had their morning fill, they will return to camp and spend their rest time chewing their cud.  Once they have taken care of that business, they will head back out for more munchies.
Three horses alternate riding with the goat herd.
Babe and Skipper wait their turn
Meanwhile back at camp, Babe and Skipper patiently wait for the herd and crew to return so they can have their turn working their shift later in the day.  

I was eager to see the goats while they were doing their job in Kenna Cartright Park this year and was lucky to have had a brief visit with both Donna and Conrad to learn more. They are on their way to Logan Lake when they leave Kamloops and will be busy working over there for a spell but hopefully we’ll be seeing them again next year with their goats taking care of business in the park. 

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