The goats finished a large thicket of blackberries on a slope overlooking Puyallup. The goats did a great job of opening up the site which would have been very difficult with equipment due to the steep slope and soft soils. The site also had a number of native shrubs, including willows and salmonberry. The goats did strip the bark off some of the willows but the willows will sprout back, and goats ate the lower portion of the salmonberry plants which will grow back with time. The goats opened up the site making it possible to get in and cut off the blackberry canes. On going work will be need to keep the blackberries in check.
Craig took advantage of the habits of the goats to make it easy to pull the goats off the steep slope. Goats like to bed down in an area where they can see, in case of predators. The first area the goats cleared was on the top of the slope, and each night the goats went back up the hill to bed down at the top of the slope. The night before we were leaving, the goats bedded down at the top of the slope and Craig put up one 16 feet piece of netting to cut the goats off the lower slopes. The next morning Craig was all ready to start taking down the large pen. It took about 6 hours to put the fence up and about 2 hours to take it down.
Next we moved to help another private homeowner with another stand of blackberries near Auburn. It was a great site for me as I could run around off leash as long as I did not wonder over to the neighbors. One of the sites the goats worked on was around a small pond. The goats spent about two hours eating blackberries, cattails and other vegetation. The client wanted to be able to see the open water. The goats cleaned up the edge of the pond but did not wade into the pond to eat the cattails that were standing in water. Goats generally do not stand in water unless it is really hot and they want to cool off.
We loaded the goats up last Friday and headed to Oregon. It was a long drive. Traffic was bad in a number of places. Driving 25 miles an hour on a freeway seems to be a little crazy. Craig hoped to make it to Hood River in 4 hours, and I could tell he was not happy. It took 5 1/2 hours with only one short stop. Next time Craig said he will think twice about traveling on a Friday, especially along the I-5 corridor.
In Hood River we are working next to pear orchards. The first pen the goats worked in was an old apple orchard that had been taken over by blackberries. Some of the blackberry thickets were over 8 feet tall. Craig used the metal panels and the hedge trimmer to get the goats on top of the blackberry thickets.
The next pen has blackberries and poison oak. Yes, the goats can eat poison oak without any problems. Craig has to be careful when he is walking through the pen and be extra careful that the friendly goats do not rub on his bare skin. The goats have not eaten poison oak before but they are doing a great job of eating through the thickets. Craig has not let me go into the pen, but I do not mind. I do not think I like the sound of poison oak.