Ear: Goats

Every now and then a goat or two can be spotted blithely mowing someone’s lawn in Astoria. Well, the Chelan County Fire District 1 kicked it up a notch or three when it hired around 320 goats from Billy’s Goats Targeted Grazing Services of Ephrata, Washington, to clear out dry grass, etc., that has become a wildfire hazard near Wenatchee, Washington, the Seattle Times reports (bit.ly/goatslope).

The critters are chowing down on everything in sight, creating a defensible fire zone in an area that is too steep (35 to 50 degrees) to be accessible to mowing machinery. And besides, goats — who work in two shifts, grazing 15 to 16 hours a day — are a lot cheaper than human labor, at about $1,600 per acre. Better yet, the bill is being footed by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. Some of Billy Porter’s goats are pictured, courtesy of the company’s Facebook page.

In case you’re wondering, the goats are protected by a moveable electric fence, a very large guard dog named Nanny and a herder named Todd Waits, who really enjoys his job. “The best thing,” told the Seattle Times, “is being alone in good company.”

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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