GREEN: Who ya gonna call? 'Goat busters' change the local landscape

Farmer Jace Goodling and his goats go to work in the woods of the third hole at Farmington Country Club.

What do a goat, a weedwhacker, and President Bush have in common? All are skilled at clearing brush, but according to Afton goat farmer Jace Goodling, only one can claim the "most environmentally friendly" title.

"It doesn't create any pollution; there's no compaction of the soil; there's no toxic herbicides involved; there's no noise," says Goodling. "If you're looking for a green way to get rid of vegetation, this is the greenest way to do it."

The idea came to Goodling when he heard of a few fellow goat farmers getting some use out of their less-than-best stock.

"I've got a bunch of goats, and some of them just aren't good enough to eat, so I've got to make them earn their keep somehow," says Goodling. "So then I heard about this farmer in Seattle who was using his goats to clear building lots before they lay the foundation."

Since getting the business started in April, Goodling says he's had clients ranging from homeowners to golf course pros, each seeking to clear the land while keeping clear air, too. It didn't take long for Goodling to realize he had a method that worked.

"The first one we did was a vineyard, and they wanted to get rid of the vegetation on the ground of the forest, so they couldn't give the pests that attack the vines a place to hide," says Goodling. "After seven weeks, it was the difference between an Amazon jungle and scorched earth."

In each case, there have been dogs on the premises, a cause for concern given that canine attacks are one of the most common causes of goat death. For this, Goodling had an immediate solution.

"I found this kind of fencing that's 42 inches high and looks like the netting in a soccer goal," says Goodling. "Each of the strands has an electric charge running through it, and once the goats or the dogs touch that, they don't want to go near it."

As it is with most landscaping work there's the concern of what gets left behind. On this point, Goodling says he'll take the Pepsi Challenge against conventional tactics any day.

"Usually, you have to get rid of a bunch of dead leaves and branches, and you may have dumped poison into the ground if you used an herbicide," says Goodling. And if environmental concerns weren't enough to compel clientele, there is, of course, the whole concept of natural herbal processing.

 "With this," he says, "there's nothing to haul away, and you get a nice natural, fertilizer at the end."