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Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

Posted May 13, 2009 12:00 AM by Sharkles

We live in an increasingly green-conscious world. For some, "it's not easy being green"; however, many individuals and corporations have taken steps towards embracing green initiatives.

Recent news from Google suggests that the search engine doesn't just think outside the box when creating software. Creative thinking also characterizes the company's quest to be green. On May 1st, Google announced that it would no longer be using noisy, gasoline-fueled lawnmowers at its Mountain View headquarters. Rather, Google rented goats from California Grazing for a week-long visit to the complex. The animals ate grass and fertilized the land.

According to Google's official blog, "The goats are herded with the help of Jen, a border collie. It costs us about the same as mowing, and goats are a lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers."

Before the goats arrived to feast at the Googleplex, the brush in the area was reportedly 4-ft tall; however, the goats ate through most of it in just a few days. An on-site herder said the goats would do a field-clearing for Google once a year. The herder also reported that a couple of goats got sick because human were feeding them flowers, which are poisonous to goats.

Google Isn't Alone, or Even First to Use Goats

Google may be getting all of the press now, but Yahoo has been using goats to maintain its land for at least a couple years. Yahoo has even uploaded a photo showing goats grazing on its property with the caption:

Once or twice a year, a large herd of goats can be seen just past our parking garage in Sunnyvale, grazing happily on the tall grasses of the hill (cough - landfill - cough) beyond. We have a special fondness for the goats and are always sad to see them go (which, based on their voracity, happens much faster than you'd imagine).

Not to be outdone by Google and Yahoo, Chattanooga, Tennessee has been letting goats roam in a city-owned section of the Missionary Ridge since 2006. The city had been previously overrun by kudzu vines - known as "the vine that ate the south" – that grow up to a foot a day. Chattanooga's goats are now said to be the "official city mascots" and have even inspired songwriter Randy Mitchell to write "Ode to Billy Goats."

When I first heard about this story, I thought it was a joke. Goats? Really? But I think the idea is a good one – as long as you have the time, money and patience to deal with them.

What'sthe most creative or unique "green" idea you've ever heard of?

Resources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/bigMoney/idUS24458641020090504

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/05/us/05goats.html

http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/05/01/google-and-yahoo-both-use-goats-for-lawn-mowing

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/mowing-with-goats.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/04/AR2009050400027.html

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Commentator

Join Date: Sep 2006
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#1

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 8:05 AM

Maybe the grass in Mountain View grows slower, and does not have (goat-poisonous) dandelions -- I don't think a couple herds of goats during the summer would work similarly for lawns here in upstate New York.

How do you tell it to consume 4 inches instead of 2?

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#2

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 9:02 AM

This one's easy for a life-long Hudson Valley resident, born near the banks of the mighty Hudson in Troy, New York: clean up the Hudson River. Many thanks, Pete Seeger, for the great theme songs all these years! :) - Larry

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#17
In reply to #2

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/16/2009 11:53 AM

I've gotta be careful for what I ask for: it was announced in my local newspaper, the Albany Times-Union, that the long-stalled clean-up, a collaboration of General Electric and EPA of the Hudson, started this week(!) at the source-polluted site in Fort Edward, New York, a little north of Saratoga Springs: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=800812. It's getting easier being green!!! - Larry

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#3

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 9:30 AM

I heard of one study where moveable fencing was use to clear land with the introduction first of goats, instead of a brush hog. The goats were moved to the next plot and sheep kept the grass short. Then hogs were turned loose to dig up the roots of problem plants. Worked pretty well!

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#13
In reply to #3

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/14/2009 11:32 AM

One would also need a tortoise to trim the edges of the lawn.

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#4

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 9:53 AM

This sounds like a pretty cool concept. Since my lawn is covered in dandelions every spring, this would be a goats dream. Unfortunately, I don't see my father giving up his lawn mowing ways. I don't think that my father would be willing to trade a messy lawn for a poop strewn uneven cut lawn. Plus, they might start eating buds of the saplings, and that is a no-no!

This is quite a good idea, I believe. It is ideas like this that positively contribute to our environment.

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#11
In reply to #4

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/14/2009 7:40 AM

"Plus, they might start eating buds of the saplings"...

My dear friend, the goats will eat everything... grass, hedges, saplings, tree bark. In a month your yard would look like a Army training ground. It would be fun to watch the Googlians pulling their hair when the goats will run havoc in the parking lot, jumping from car to car.

I love American innocence...

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#5

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 10:46 AM

http://fiascofarm.com/goats/poisonousplants.htm

I had to clear this up for myself, the first entry said dandelions are poisonous to goats and the later one suggested they are not. I'll post it here in case someone else wants to be clear too.

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#6

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 1:17 PM
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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 4:36 PM

Great video, Kaplin - enjoyed it! Another version of Kermit's song, a softer version, was also done by a French artist now living in the U.S. southwest, Naim Amor (video performance on KCRW.org). - Larry

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#7

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 1:23 PM

I wonder how much gas was used transporting to and from the area - I couldn't find an address on the web site. As far as emissions reduction, I think that is a good idea, but gas consumption could be a draw if the pasturage area is small enough - unless they bought the goats. Baaaaaa

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#12
In reply to #7

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/14/2009 8:37 AM

Mike, I just noticed that your motto. It fits the case in discussion pretty good...

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#9

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/13/2009 10:58 PM

David Banner did not like to go green

it is a drop on a Hot plate IMO, No humans no polution!

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#10

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/14/2009 7:21 AM

We can use their dung for biofuel and fertilizer and they are delicious when they are young. Cabrito!

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#14

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/14/2009 12:39 PM

In Georgia, they have had goats maintaining the hillsides near Buford Dam for over 15 years. The slopes near the dam are to steep to mow. The area has a tall fence around it to keep the people out and the goats in. Seems to be working pretty well.

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#15

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/14/2009 9:13 PM

Would it not have been 'greener' to leave the hillside vegetation as mother earth had provided? Trading a green hillside for "fertilized" land seems unnatural, considering fertilized is simply a fancy word for goat manure.

Viewing/smelling decaying goat manure, on what was once a green hillside, seems foolish, let's see if the goats really are invited back next year.

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#16

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/15/2009 6:09 AM

Here in Malaysia there is a radio spot encouraging everyone to use the internet less as two typical searches use as much energy as boiling a kettle of water.

My first reaction was "so?" And then my second reaction was "BALDERDASH!"

I fully believe in reducing wasted energy, that is a big part of my job-reducing wasted energy and preventing carbon emissions for no good reason, but stopping internet usage? What we get everyone to get in their car and go to the library to look up information? Or maybe they drive all over town searching for something when they could have found it on the internet in seconds. The commercial is stupid.

Here is Google's stand on the subject substantiating my balderdash assessment.

"Recently, though, others have used much higher estimates, claiming that a typical search uses "half the energy as boiling a kettle of water" and produces 7 grams of CO2. We thought it would be helpful to explain why this number is *many* times too high. Google is fast — a typical search returns results in less than 0.2 seconds. Queries vary in degree of difficulty, but for the average query, the servers it touches each work on it for just a few thousandths of a second. Together with other work performed before your search even starts (such as building the search index) this amounts to 0.0003 kWh of energy per search, or 1 kJ. For comparison, the average adult needs about 8000 kJ a day of energy from food, so a Google search uses just about the same amount of energy that your body burns in ten seconds.

In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. The current EU standard for tailpipe emissions calls for 140 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven, but most cars don't reach that level yet. Thus, the average car driven for one kilometer (0.6 miles for those in the U.S.) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches."

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: Is Going Green Getting Your Goat?

05/17/2009 9:51 PM

Yes , the electric plant just keeps working, so when i stop internet i go out in the car burning gas.

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