Benedictine Sisters Invite Goats to Big Meal
The Benedictine Sisters of Erie have a big landscaping project underway at the Glinodo Environmental Center across from their monastery in Harborcreek Township. The sisters made a careful decision on who they wanted to do the job. They decided on a herd of goats!
"We have a pretty big problem with invasive species. Plants that are very happy parts in the ecosystem in other parts of the world kind of make their way here and they take over the ecosystem,” says Sr. Jacqueline Sanchez-Small, OSB.
The sisters did not want to use chemicals to get rid of the invasive plants. They didn't want any heavy equipment. So they called a company called Let's Goat Buffalo, from Buffalo, New York. The cute critters are clearing the land the natural way. They love to eat plants and they never get full.
"We always say 'They're full of personality, but never full,” says Jen Zeitler, the founder of Let’s Goat Buffalo. “They are ruminant, which means they have four different stomach chambers. So you'll see them eating. Then they take a break. They lay down and they ruminate, chewing their cud just like a cow would do. Then they get back up and start eating again."
The goats are perfect for the job at the Glinodo Center. The sisters invite people to come and use the trails along Seven Mile Creek. However, the center is being invaded by plants that are making access to those trails almost impossible. The multiflora rose, for example, has big sharp thorns. The goats don't care about thorns. They'll eat them.
"They will eat all the leaves off but they will also strip the thorns,” says Jen.
Lots of poison ivy can be found on the ground leading into the trails. It also winds its way up trees. That's not good for people. The goats...they'll eat it.
"It doesn't bother them in any way which is great for us. A lot of landscapers have difficulty with this. It's not a safe plant to have humans go in and remove. But the goats are happy to do it,” says Jen.
At the end of the day, the goats get into their bus to rest. They must be ready for another day of eating.
The goats will be working every day at the Glinodo Center through August 13. The public is invited to watch. Visitors must remember to not touch the electric fence surrounding the goats. It's also not a good idea to pet the goats because of their exposure to the poison ivy.