CRANBERRY TWP — Lawn care might not immediately come to mind as weekend entertainment, but the township is looking to change that.
Over the weekend, spectators watched as a herd of goats, plus one donkey, chowed down on weeds in North Boundary Park.
“The nice thing about these goats is they could get into these steep hillsides, especially with how wet it's been,” said Drew Fredericks, the township grounds maintenance manager. “It will eliminate the need for us to get in with equipment. Everything is still pretty muddy and it would just create a mess.”
Goats were among the first animals to be domesticated by humans 10,000 to 11,000 years ago, and they have been used more recently as an environmentally friendly option for lawn care.
A nonprofit in Pittsburgh, Allegheny GoatScape, brought the trend to Butler County with six goats and the donkey to the park Saturday.
The goats were placed on hilly areas that are difficult for mechanical equipment to reach. The herd worked to naturally clear the area of weeds.
According to Fredericks, the “hill-billies” will live on their work site until at least July 4. The goats will be released in primarily two areas around retention ponds: one just south of the veterans' baseball field and the other at a pond between North Boundary Park Road and North Boundary Road.
“We picked those locations for accessibility for the goats and for people to watch,” Fredericks said. “It's an interesting thing for the township and it seems to be a big hit already. A lot of social engagement.”
Fredericks said that goat enthusiasts are welcome to volunteer to help the goats after-hours to make sure they have water and that fences are intact. Aside from the volunteers, the donkey will be with the goats to protect them from predators — such as coyotes.
“I was told that donkeys are pretty aggressive and they won't allow anything to mess with the pack,” Fredericks said.
Fredericks hoped there would be enough people Saturday to create a “human fence” to corral the goats as they are unloaded from a trailer. Once they are established in their work sites, electric fences will be used to keep them from leaving.
“Usually, we have brush mowers once a year take care of these spots, but this year we wanted to try something new,” Fredericks said. “We're hoping they will become an attraction for people to visit.”