In Portland, you can rent a goat to mow your lawn, which is just another point in that city's favor. The idea of hiring a goat to keep the grass trim might sound a little out-there, but they might be nature's perfect lawnmowers—they even provide their own fertilizer. Would you retire your lawnmower for a goat? Goats have some advantages over normal lawn mowers: They can get to places where normal mowers can't, and animal mowing actually retards regrowth because the animals' digestive systems sterilize the seeds. And goats let you avoid the fumes from gas-powered lawn mowers (no word on the fumes from the goats themselves). Most of all, they're hilarious. It would be like living in a petting zoo!
Of course, there are drawbacks. Anything plantlike that you don't want eaten would have to be protected. Also, they're animals and need care like any other living creature, so you can't just buy one, drop it in the yard, and leave.
But you know what they say, why buy the goat when you can rent it? Goatfinder.com, a goat classifieds site, has a whole state-by-state section dedicated to temporarily renting goats. According to Eco-Goats, a renter of mowing goats, their critters have handled areas from 12-foot-by-60-foot backyards to 20,000 acres. On the smaller scale, Eddie Miller of Heritage Lawn Mowing, in Ohio, was profiled in The New York Times for his sheep-powered mowing business. For $1 per sheep per day, he rents out his sheep for lawn-cutting services.
Goats can even do large-scale clearing work. Tammy Dunakin, the owner of Rent-a-Ruminant, says it takes 60 goats about three to five days to clear out a quarter of an acre of dense vegetation. They can eat brambles, stickers, weeds, and even poison oak, and they have a special love of invasive species like kudzu.
Google even used goats to mow its Mountain View campus.
Would you use a goat or sheep to cut your grass? Have you used one? Let us know in the comments.