What goes around, comes around: Mowing with Goats

[Flickr CC License]

I grew up in the country of Pakistan, with goats as a normal part of life.  No, we never had our own, but neighbors did.  Flocks of goats wandering the fields, eating anything they could get their teeth on to, were just part of the landscape.

And now we have Google, arguably the poster child for modern corporate technology, using… goats… to maintain part of the landscape at Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountainview, CA.

This has generated some predictable discussion on the blogs:  Is it good? bad? Indifferent?  One of my favorite researchers on topics like this is Umbra over at Grist.org.  She weighs in the important goat question this week:

You tell me: would you rather look out your office window at a riding lawn mower or at a herd of goats? And which would you rather hear as you lounge over breakfast on Saturday, baaaaa or rrrrummmmrrr? Not that visual and aural preference should dictate environmental actions.  There are other good reasons to use goats for mowing.

It appears that on almost every count, goats win.  Umbra even offers us an opportunity to rent goats for ourselves if the mowing is just too much to keep up with.

All of this contrasts strangely with a sign I saw on the campus of the world headquarters of another corporation in my own home town just today.  “This nature reserve is set aside for our employees, family members and guests.  No pets allowed.”

Hmmm – a nature reserve, but no pets allowed?  Seems like someone needs to update our dictionary definition of ‘nature’…