John Packard has spent most of his life working in and enjoying the outdoors. During high school and after college he labored and lived on a 200 acre produce farm in Pennsylvania. In 1993 he moved permanently to Wisconsin, where he has gardened and landscaped ever since. As a partner in Mother Nature and Sons (1995-2002) he helped introduce natural garden design and organic maintenance to south-eastern Wisconsin. Since 2003 he has owned and operated Botanica Fine Gardens and Landscapes in Lake Geneva. Botanica emphasizes gardening in harmony with nature, land stewardship and horticultural best practice. John’s horticultural interests include: woodland and prairie restoration, vegetables, conifers, native plants, weed management, artisanal stonework, and enjoying the fruits of his labors with good friends, beer and music at the end of the day.

Recent Blog Posts

Mar 01
About this “Flow Hive” thing…  

Apr 19
Testing Positive for E.A.B.   (2 comments)

Aug 11
Party star Prunus persica: Kill the Baby Peaches II  

Jul 11
Gluttonous Green Goats   (2 comments)

Jul 05
Sandaled Stone Work  

Jun 22
Screen Door on the Solstice  

Jun 11
Kill the Baby Peaches   (2 comments)

Jun 02
Lilly’s Placenta Tree  




Gluttonous Green Goats
by John Packard - posted 07/11/13

The Green Goats arrived at the jobsite today and galloped straight off to their lunch break, a 24/7 buffet of Blackberry and Buckthorn that will occupy their waking working hours for weeks to come.


Kim Hunter and her Green Goats get to work!


The goats’ jobsite is 3.3 acres of a 24 acre “restored” woodland.  “Restored” because in the modern environmental error, nothing is immune to the incursions of human, and without vigilant maintenance, 100s of 1000s of $$$$$s revert to tangled skanky thicket in a few short cheap years.


This Oak woodland has benefitted from nearly a decade of restoration efforts,

but it still requires maintenance to maintain the value of the time and money invested.

The Green Goats will graze the area behind the fence to the right of the path.


The goats’ job is to graze the bad, and thus the good. Goats aren’t picky.  If it’s green it’s gnawed to right to the ground.


Within seconds the Green Goats are at the base of a Bur Oak grazing invasives.


Consider European Buckthorn, Rhamnus carthatica,  an imported marauder, with needle sharp spur branches, and profuse purple berries that are, ahem, a cathartic.  “Watch out where the Blackbirds go, and don’t you eat the Purple snow.”  But for a herd of goats, Buckthorn, and everything else is for breakfast, second breakfast, brunch, lunch/dinner, tea time, snack, munchies, cocktail hour, hors d’oeuvres, dinner/supper, midnight snack and breakfast at the Olympic.


Buckthorn and Blackberry, it's what's for breakfast, second breakfast, brunch....



When they aren’t sleeping, goats are eating.  And they’ve got lots of work to do.  Let’s see what they get done.


Idyll Goats






RSS | Print

Share this story on:


Christopher (Louisiana - Zone 8a) - 07/18/2013

Are goats immune to the adverse effects of consuming Rhamnus cathartica?
{screen_name}'s avatar

John Packard (Lake Geneva, WI.) - 07/18/2013

Apparently! This particular project is densely vegetated with diverse herbaceous and woody plants. The Buckthorn that is there is immature and won't produce much of a fruit set, and not until fall.

I have been told that when grazing a mono-crop of Buckthorn the goats can get sick.
{screen_name}'s avatar