More On Goats For Vegetation Control

A few days ago I wrote about Google using goats to control grass on their property. Techcrunch didn’t seem impressed and was worried about the jobless human mowers.

The city of Mesa, Arizona has used 70 goats for the last 50 months to clear vegetation around a water reclamation plant. They expect to save $10,000 by using goats.

Besides being cost effective, it reduces the use of fossil fuels, toxic chemicals and pesticides. It’s a pollution-free way of ridding the three retention ponds of compromising vegetation, Satter said.

Goats’ bodies break down plants in such a way that they won’t grow back when it becomes waste, making the job more permanent than what a machine can do.

It’s not mentioned how many people it took to mow the grass with machines vs. taking care of goats. I suspect goats are more labor intensive that mowers.

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Google Mowing With Goats

Google is mowing their large areas of vegetation with goats. This is a great idea, something I may investigate when I get the grass growing in the back yard.

At our Mountain View headquarters, we have some fields that we need to mow occasionally to clear weeds and brush to reduce fire hazard. This spring we decided to take a low-carbon approach: Instead of using noisy mowers that run on gasoline and pollute the air, we’ve rented some goats from California Grazing to do the job for us (we’re not “kidding”). A herder brings about 200 goats and they spend roughly a week with us at Google, eating the grass and fertilizing at the same time. 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.

New Mexico Scorpions Still Loosing Money

First Scorpions game in Rio RanchoAn Albuquerque Tribune article discusses how the Scorpions didn’t make enough money during their first season in Rio Rancho to cover costs. They didn’t make enough money when they were in Albuquerque, either.

I can certainly see why they would thing the grass will be greener here in Rio Rancho, really what did they have to loose? I’m still concerned, how long will they continue to loose money? What if Rio Rancho’s growth doesn’t happen as fast as it needs to? Real fans are already driving to Rio Rancho to watch the games, what else will be done to attract new fans?

I’m still surprised to hear people complain about the drive to the Arena. Unser Road did suck, but it’s mostly better now. Any major city with major league sports have much worse traffic problems than Rio Rancho. I don’t think people know how good they have it.

Lawnmower Zen

I need a lawnmower. Despite the fact that I haven’t been able to actually water the lawn, nature has conspired to provide me with weeds. No no. It couldn’t sprout grass, it had to sprout all manners of plants that are not grass. Although my Black & Decker CST2000 12 Volt 12″ Cordless GRASSHOG Trimmer / Edger does a good job, it’s not up to the task of mowing my lawn.

I have no desire to deal with the tomfoolery of a gas powered device. I’m a modern man, and I’m willing to accept the limitations of a electric powered lawnmower and allow the power plant to do the polluting far away rather than generate the pollution in my back yard. Lets then, stick to what I know, Black & Decker.

At first I looked at the Black & Decker MM875 19″ Electric Mulching Mower. I gotta have a mulcher to fill my compost bins, otherwise don’t waste my time. The reviews seem positive, and it seems to meet my needs. Although it may test the limits of my needs, I’ve already said I know going into this that there will be limitations and at about $200 I can handle it. This, however is a corded mower. I can’t bee seen mowing my backyard with a cord hanging off my mower. What am I, some kind of jerk?

Moving on to cordless models I find the Black & Decker CMM1000 24 Volt 19″ Cordless Rechargeable Mulching Mower. Yes yes, I know i read the reviews. I can handle the limitations of a electric mower already. I’m willing to go over the lawn over and over again to get it all cut. One thing I failed to initially notice was the price, at $400 – $500. That’s in US dollars.

I guess I won’t look like some sort of jerk pushing around a corded mower, for that matter any kind of mower. At least for now. By the way, looks like iRobot is going to come out with a Robotic Lawnmower. Oh sure, it will be just as cheap. I will buy two.

Ditch Digging

Spring appears to be here, with summer just around the corner. Time to get the backyard ready and get grass growing. Thankfully the previous owners had grass growing and working sprinklers. What I need is a modular and scalable sprinkler system, since I plan have more than one source of water and many more things to water. I will need to dig up the current system and redo the primary control system.

IMG_7443.JPGThe problem with New Mexico soil is it’s a layer of sand on a layer of clay. When thats been covered up with rock and plastic for many years, with no water to soften it up, you end up trying to dig through cement. The best method for digging is to dig a small hole, fill it with water, let it soak, then dig a little more out. Plus the previous owners surrounded the control valves with cement, making it even harder to get in there.

IMG_7444.JPGToday I managed to dig about 30 inches where the control valves are. Why they hell they are that deep I have no idea. In New Mexico you only need about 18 inches deep for the valves. It’s just insane and I’m going to have to remove some of the concrete to get to to the valves. Something I was hoping to avoid.

IMG_7445.JPGI also forgot to mention the other valve. Once valve controls the sprinklers and the other controls… something else. I have no idea. It goes out to the yard but there’s no other obvious sprinkler heads. All I know is it’s busted and was making a nice little spring in the yard. I managed to dig that pipe up to find a huge crack. Once I replace it I should be able to tell where it ends up.

Unexpected Benefits

This house was listed with the clause that the seller would “clean up debris and weeds”. There was quite a bit of weeds and some “debris” but it wasn’t so bad. When I made my offer I said I would would clean up the weeds and crap left behind. They accepted my offer and the rest is history.

On the final contract, they put back in that the Seller would clean up the weeds and debris. WTF? According to the seller’s agent, it was “already scheduled”. OK, whatever. Last week the people they contracted to clean up the place, and oh boy did they do a terrific job. Some of the debris had value to me, but the clean up costs vs the costs of the items more than likely even out. Check out these before and after pics.

Front of the house, not a lot of weeds here, but it was nice to have it cleaned up. Makes a difference in the look of the place from the road.

Front of houseFront of house

The partially finished storage shed. I think there was some interesting things in here I would have liked to have had. There was also a big wood pile next to it which was taken.

Other weird out buildingOther weird out building

This is the back yard, showing the back 1/4 acre that hasn’t been devleoped. I didn’t expect them to clean up these weeds.

Rest of back yardRest of back yard after weeds removed

The vegetable garden. Again, will be a lot easier to get stuff growing here too.

Vegetable gardenVegetable garden after weeds removed

The once grassy area in the back yard (sprinkler system is present). It will be a lot easier to get grass in now.

Back yard (partitioned)Back yard (partitioned) after weeds

We Could Use The Summer Monsoons Already

Most people may not expect this, but Albuquerque has a very wet summer most of the time. The summer monsoons usually bring in a lot of rain especially during June and July. We can get near half our rain for the year this way. But this year is different. Instead we are treated to temperatures in the high 90’s. Although not unusual to get temperatures this high, its unusual to get them this high for this many days. They say a ridge of high pressure is keeping the summer monsoons away from New Mexico and it may let up next week.

I blame the lack of rain (partially) on my issues getting the grass growing and for all the bugs that have invaded our house. We have ants, beetles and all kinds bugs that we usually don’t see in the house.

We have been pretty lucky not to have a lot of water restrictions imposed on us, but if the rain doesn’t come soon next spring is going to be unpleasant.