Grazing goats help keep noxious weeds out of Boulder

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BOULDER, Colo. — The city of Boulder has hired a unique team of landscapers to deal with a noxious weed problem at Tantra Park.

The park is overrun with invasive plant species like Canada thistle, crown vetch and perennial pepperweed. However, it is not an area that can be mowed or sprayed.

That’s where Mutton Mowers LLC comes in.

“My herd is grazing in the city of Boulder," said Emily McMurtrey. "And they are targeting a few weed species."

McMurtrey is known as “The Goat Lady." She is a former city of Boulder water resource technician but gave the gig up when she became a mother.

“When I got to having kids I needed something that I could make my own hours on,” she said.

In addition to her children, she now has about 60 goat kids and adults.

“They are just part of my family,” McMurtrey said. “Sometimes my husband says, ‘You love them more than me.’ And sometimes it’s true.”

Thursday evening, Mutton Mowers and Boulder Parks and Recreation invited the public to meet and interact with the goats.

“It’s just kind of odd how beautiful they are but how hard they are working,” Polly Rogers said.

The grazing has to be properly timed in order to be effective. The herd needs to mow while the weeds are in bloom. That also happens to be when the plants are most nutritious and most delicious for the goats.

McMurtrey estimates it will take the goats about 10 days to clear the patch in Tantra Park. They could stay as long as three weeks though before moving on to their next project.

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