By: Ally Pace
Trek through the muddy meadow.
Wipe the dried grass off the bottom of your shoes.
The thick air smells of fresh manure and sawdust. Fields of open grass surround neat meadows.
There is not a weed in sight. There is only the blood curdling sounds of screaming goats.
Hundreds of sure-footed creatures calmly graze around the perimeter of the land, paying no mind to distractions of the world around them. They only lift their heads to let out a deafening yell every so often.
The goats maneuver with haste, sucking in the green pasture as if their lives depended on it.
To most this isn’t a familiar scene, but its purpose is benefiting businesses and individuals alike in the Nashville community.
Josh Delozier lives just south of Nashville on a quaint farm that is filled with barn animals. They are reinventing the weeding business. This isn’t any regular brush removal, this is landscaping by goat.
Pint-sized Pygmys, multi-colored Alpines, and even heavy-bellied Saanens, Delozier and his partner, David Daily, have them all. All of these goats are available for rental to the public.
“I worked at a farm in college where we used goats on the side to clear out unwanted brush,” said Deloizer. “One day, I decided to open up a business based solely on that.”
That was the day that changed his life. Since then, the Goat Guys have seen a demand for their natural landscaping methods.
Delozier wakes up and goes out to check on the goats by 8 a.m. He looks over what progress they’ve made on their latest job. Without startling the herd, he reaches for a pair of pristine silver clippers and lumbers over into the areas that need additional attention.
As the sun goes down each evening, Delozier checks each hoof and tail again. Then, it’s his time to go.
Today is different. This time the heard has finished it’s six-week job.
As another project comes to a close, he loads 105 grazing goats all into one trailer. He carelessly balances a vat of grain on his left shoulder and roars, “Lets go girls!” while he lets out a deep laugh.
The herds of hollow-horned billys lazily gather around Deloizer. Many of them thump their hooves across the frozen earth, bidding adieu to the three-mile stretch of territory they have been occupying since December 20.
Their eyes are fixated on the gallon bucket sitting atop Delozier’s arm. They are somehow still mesmerized by food, even though they have eaten almost every blade of grass on this greenway just outside the Nashville Metro Center.
The Nashville Metro Water Services hired The Goat Guys to clear shrubbery surrounding the levee. The project is the largest that the company has finished to date.
In a world where technology is eliminating jobs at a rapid pace, these goats are going where appliances cannot.
“You can’t get heavy machinery on the kind of hills that are over in this area,” said Goat Wrangle, David Daily. “In order to maintain the structural stability of this particular place you need to tread lightly.”
That’s exactly why the Metro Center has trusted only goats to clear the ground surrounding the levee.
“Heavy equipment on an earthen levee is not an ideal situation and a large portion of the levee had to be mowed equipment that was noisy and emits exhaust into the environment,” said Sonia Allman, Manager of Metro Water Services. “Goats naturally eat the rough forage that grows on the levee. They are small and agile and are not affected by the hazardous terrain – in fact, they love it.”
Many other organizations are profiting from using natural brush removal. The city of Nashville benefited not only environmentally, but also saved money this year by hiring goats to get the job done.
“Due to the rough and steep terrain, it was hazardous and expensive to mow with equipment,” said Allman. “We were paying approximately $100,000 to mow the 3 mile levee. The goats cost less than $40,000. “
While The Goat Guys mainly take on large projects, they will gladly hand deliver a few kids to your door to clear the average suburbian yard in a matter of days.
Many are fascinated by this method of clearing weeds, but “goatscaping” is increasing in popularity. In fact, goats are being used throughout the region to gobble up even the most stubborn plants.
There is almost nothing that this flock can’t stomach. Thistles, fungus, poison ivy. Goats take care of it all.
Parks and Recreation Services in Chattanooga, Tennessee are even using goats to clear Kudzu, and invasive species that has been affecting their local environment for years.
The practice of using goats to trim meadows is becoming an attractive alternative for many due to their natural methods and pesticide free appeal.
“We don’t spray at all. What we do is completely eco-friendly. We’re not going to contaminate the ground in any area,” said Delozier. “People are loving the values behind this business, and seeing the goats makes them happy.”
There is one thing that makes Deloizer’s job much easier than the average landscaping companies. He explains with a gleam in his eye and a wicked grin that the one of the best benefits of using goats is what comes out of their “exhaust pipe”.
To put it bluntly, the goats’ poop fertilizes the ground.
While the feces from the animals germinate the ground, goats eat the plants down to the roots without forcibly removing them. This ensures that any unwanted invasive species won’t reappear.
“The way their digestive system processes invasive plants causes the substances to become sterilized,” said Delozier. “This ensures that they’re improving the quality of land as they browse on it.”
This is one occupation that Deloizer acknowledges requires a deep affection for the animals he cares for. It’s also one that comes with many fond memories.
As Deloizer closes the back of his trailer, he looks at the brood lovingly and releases an almost childish giggle.
“Right now we have ‘round 150 animals total, but we’re expecting to end up with 300 after May,” Said Deloizer. “We usually buy the goats, but most of ‘em this year will be having babies. So that is a big milestone for us. I sure can’t wait to see what happens next for us.”
The next step for this out-of-the-box organization won’t be a small one. While he wasn’t able to convey the details of his next project, Delozier’s childish smile insinuated that what would be next for The Goat Guys, might just be a developing milestone for the business.