WHERE ARE THEY NOW? City still getting their goat(s)
“These were higher than my car,” Donna Lindblom says, nodding towards the snow-covered thistle stalks that are thick on the ground at the southern end of Kamloops’ Tournament Capital Ranch.
These days, many of those stalks are closer to knee height. In some places, they’re barely visible through the snowpack.
In the distance, the thistle-destroyers move across the ground in a strange, seething swirl, a waddling mass of horns and fur and teeth.
They have, Lindblom notes, gotten much fatter since their original summer debut in the city, when they arrived for what was supposed to be a 10-day pilot project in Kenna Cartwright Park.
Thistles are good eating — nearly as good as alfalfa — and the ranch has more than enough to satisfy 350 hungry goats.
Donna and Conrad Lindblom, who own and operate Rocky Ridge Vegetation Control, have used goats for weed control for more than a decade.
But, before the economic downturn their work mainly took them to forestry cutblocks.
When work in that area slowed down several years ago, they began offering their herd to communities with invasive-plant problems.
In June, that led them to Kamloops, where the goats were tasked with grazing 33 hectares of knapweed-infested nature park.
At the outset, the city knew it liked the price tag of the herd — $300 per hectare grazed, compared to $820 per hectare to have the weeds pulled by prisoners, or $1,000 per hectare to treat them with pesticides.
The real test, says parks supervisor Shawn Cook, was whether the goats could actually make a dent in the weeds.
“From what we’ve seen, the results were fantastic,” Cook says.
The goats have a couple of advantages.
For one, their digestive systems break down weed seeds, slowing the spread of the plants.
They’re also deployable in highly sloped areas, of which Kamloops has a serious supply.
By the end of the summer, the Lindbloms and their goats had entered into a temporary use agreement with the city.
By September, they were grazing the Tournament Capital Ranch. They won’t leave until some time this coming spring. Even then, the herd won’t be gone for good.
In the new year, Cook says the parks department will bring an invasive-plant master plan to city council that includes goats in a big way.
“The plan would be to use them every year, basically,” he says.
“You would see them throughout our parks system if we do this in the future.
“They would be all over the place within the city.”