RIDLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Neighbors were both relieved and puzzled to learn that a herd of goats had temporarily taken residence in a nearby park.
They were not wild animals roaming the Philadelphia suburbs. Rather, they were each unique employees of Amazing Grazing LLC, a family business based in Concordville, PA.
"It is a really interesting concept. I would call them landscapers," said Elizabeth Gieder, who grew up on a nearby street. She and other families flocked to the park to see the goats as if it were an impromptu zoo.
The hard-working livestock were hired for an odd job as a last resort. Residents who live adjacent to Blackrock Park Field House were concerned about the steep hill eroding in their backyards.
Sprawling with thick brush and vast vegetation, it was too dangerous for landscapers to assess. It was also impractical to clear using machinery, for the fear of washing chemicals into the playground below.
Poison ivy, oak, sumac, and other plants riddled the hill. But within four days, more than a dozen goats had eaten away the majority of the obstruction.
"They're eradicating all these invasives that are just really overwhelming to the homeowner," said Bruce Weber, who co-owns Amazing Grazing with his wife, Kristin.
These super-goats were also fighting a second cause during their fancy feast. Their love for eating young grapevine resulted in the eradication of a feeding source for the ever-growing population of spotted lanternflies.
"This is what the goats were born to do. They love to eat this heavy stuff, so it's perfect," said Kristin Weber.
The once verdant entanglement of vines and leaves is now a dull slope of roots and branches.
"We can see the erosion now that comes down the hill," said Tom Donahue, Commissioner for Ridley Township's second ward. He is looking forward to addressing the potential collateral damage, such as lost fencing and backyard space.
Unfortunately, the team of goats has moved onto their next assignment. So, neighbors have lost a key source of entertainment that has distracted from the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few days.
Nevertheless, the bonds created among the audience of this farming phenomenon will not be forgotten.
To learn more about Amazing Grazing, visit their Facebook page.