For the next month or so, more than 900 goats will be calling the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum home.
“Last year, the Ventura County Fire Department broached the idea with us,” said Reagan Library Director and Herder-in-Chief Duke Blackwood. “We’ve partnered with them for more than 10 years with brush clearance. We’d bring in teams of people to do it, and it was very laborious and noisy. I don’t know how exactly, but the fire department was approached by these people with goats, and they thought they’d give it a try.”
An annual brush clearing is an important part of fire abatement because the library is located in a fire-prone area. The library took on 400 goats last year to clear 13 acres of brush around the property. This year, 900 goats will cover 40 acres. A portable fence is placed to move the goats around and keep them safe. A shepherd will also live on the property for the entire month to watch over the goats and make sure no coyotes or bobcats get them.
The goat program is organized and paid for by the fire department, so no special clearance is required to have the goats on property.
“It’s a very efficient and green way of doing it, and they get right down to the ground. You might say it’s not a baaaaa-d idea,” Blackwood joked.
All right, so these goats don’t need to be issued National Archives ID badges. But are they professional in the workplace?
“Absolutely! And you know what, they don’t complain,” Blackwood said. “And they work 24/7. I mean, they just stay inside the fence and eat all the green stuff—and I mean everything green.”
Both staff and public alike have responded positively to the use of goats to clear brush. “The public just loves it,” Blackwood said. “I mean, it’s a fascinating thing to watch. There are big goats and small goats, and they make funny noises and munch, munch, munch all day long. It’s just amazing.”
This year, the Reagan Library started off with 900 goats, but several baby goats have been born since: a pair of twins and a set of triplets. An informal staff contest was held to name the twins, one of which unfortunately didn’t make it. The remaining twin will be named Jellybean, in honor of Reagan’s love for the candy.
“There’s absolutely no question that Reagan would’ve thought this was a wonderful idea,” Blackwood said. “And you know, Jellybean just might be tweeting soon, so keep an eye out!”
For now, the baby goat triplets have yet to be named. What do you think these three wee baby goats should be called?