What a sight! Four hundred goats on the hillside. Some on their rear legs stretching up into the live oaks. Poison oak, coyote bushes, and tall grasses are quickly shorn and mown.
Sarah Minnick, Vegetation and Fire Ecologist, explains that Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) is working with adjacent land owners, two ranches and a school, to help mitigate fire impacts. Each of these is using the goat herd to achieve fuel reduction as well as other goals.
The MCOSD lets the goats browse within 30 feet of people’s yards to give a “defensible space”. They also graze the ridges to prevent fires and enable access for fire-fighters.
The goats eat invasive grasses. Native grasses and wildflowers generally benefit from some grazing. In this county, highly invasive barbed goat grass is being contained using multiple techniques. Controlled burns, says Sarah, have proved the most successful, but are difficult to implement. They also use herbicides at different times of year, but are hoping to reduce this over time, thanks to the goats, weed-whipping, and other treatments.
Barbed goat grass develops a high silica content as it grows and then it becomes inedible. Catching it early with the goats will allow teams to hand-pull the grass later in the season.
“There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground!” (Rumi). We are currently accepting submissions of your Earth-Love experiences to be published in an upcoming issue. Perhaps, you could take 5 minutes to jot down one of your experiences or send a photo with a short commentary to this link. Thank you so much.
1 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
2 Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.
3 Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.
4 Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
5 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.
6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.
7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
8 Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
9 Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.
10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
11 Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.