Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

Local goats thrilled with post-rain bounty

Ways to Subscribe

This year has gotten off to a wet start, and that means high times for landscaper George Gonzales and his herd of brush-eating Boer goats.

This year has gotten off to a wet start, and that means high times for landscaper George Gonzales and his herd of Boer goats.

Rains have made the hills greener, as the vegetation has grown taller. But soon it will be summer and that same brush will dry out, which can lead to some pretty nasty fires.

Sure, one could hire a landscaper to clear the brush, but there's a cuter option out there: goats.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09:  A herd of 100 South African Boer goats chews on tough weeds and dry grasses to clear a steep hillside lot near the Angels Flight funicular railroad on September 9, 2008 in the Bunker Hill high-rise district of downtown Los Angeles, California. Leaders of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency rented the goats as an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to using gas-powered weed-whacker-wielding humans. Human workers would have charged as much as $7,500 to clear the 2 ½-acre Angels Knoll lot. The goats cost only about $3,000 and there will be no overtime charges. An additional 50 goats will be added to the herd soon to help complete the job in the next week to 10-days.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: A herd of 100 South African Boer goats chews on tough weeds and dry grasses to clear a steep hillside lot near the Angels Flight funicular railroad on September 9, 2008 in the Bunker Hill high-rise district of downtown Los Angeles, California. Leaders of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency rented the goats as an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to using gas-powered weed-whacker-wielding humans. Human workers would have charged as much as $7,500 to clear the 2 ½-acre Angels Knoll lot. The goats cost only about $3,000 and there will be no overtime charges. An additional 50 goats will be added to the herd soon to help complete the job in the next week to 10-days. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

George Gonzalez runs Ranchito Tivo Boer Goats out of Chino Hills. He recently talked with Take Two's A Martinez. 

Highlights

How long have you been Southern California's goat man? 



I've been in the business of goat prevention for about 15 years. It's like a hobby, but being a Christian person, I use it as a ministry also. 



I started with one goat with my stepson. We were doing the fairs, doing trophy work and trying to get a trophy for good-looking animals. And I told my wife, "This is going to cost us $800 a month in alfalfa to keep these animals here." So I figured another way to pay for it was brush clearance. 



People think I was kinda crazy, but the thing is, I've been 15-20 years in this business, and it pays its own way. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Goat-keeper George Gonzales watches over a herd of 100 South African Boer goats chews on tough weeds and dry grasses to clear a steep hillside lot near the Angels Flight funicular railroad on September 9, 2008 in the Bunker Hill high-rise district of downtown Los Angeles, California. Leaders of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency rented the goats as an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to using gas-powered weed-whacker-wielding humans. Human workers would have charged as much as $7,500 to clear the 2 ½-acre Angels Knoll lot. The goats cost only about $3,000 and there will be no overtime charges. An additional 50 goats will be added to the herd soon to help complete the job in the next week to 10-days.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Goat-keeper George Gonzales watches over a herd of 100 South African Boer goats chews on tough weeds and dry grasses to clear a steep hillside lot near the Angels Flight funicular railroad on September 9, 2008 in the Bunker Hill high-rise district of downtown Los Angeles, California. Leaders of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency rented the goats as an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to using gas-powered weed-whacker-wielding humans. Human workers would have charged as much as $7,500 to clear the 2 ½-acre Angels Knoll lot. The goats cost only about $3,000 and there will be no overtime charges. An additional 50 goats will be added to the herd soon to help complete the job in the next week to 10-days. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

How did you approach your first client? How did you explain to them how this would help them? 



I told them exactly what I tell people now. You may replace this house you've burned down, but you may not replace the souvenirs: your marriage license, pictures of your family. You don't even have a toothbrush when you leave. So you should have fire prevention 200 feet from your house. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09:  A herd of 100 South African Boer goats chews on tough weeds and dry grasses to clear a steep hillside lot near the Angels Flight funicular railroad on September 9, 2008 in the Bunker Hill high-rise district of downtown Los Angeles, California. Leaders of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency rented the goats as an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to using gas-powered weed-whacker-wielding humans. Human workers would have charged as much as $7,500 to clear the 2 ½-acre Angels Knoll lot. The goats cost only about $3,000 and there will be no overtime charges. An additional 50 goats will be added to the herd soon to help complete the job in the next week to 10-days.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: A herd of 100 South African Boer goats chews on tough weeds and dry grasses to clear a steep hillside lot near the Angels Flight funicular railroad on September 9, 2008 in the Bunker Hill high-rise district of downtown Los Angeles, California. Leaders of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency rented the goats as an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to using gas-powered weed-whacker-wielding humans. Human workers would have charged as much as $7,500 to clear the 2 ½-acre Angels Knoll lot. The goats cost only about $3,000 and there will be no overtime charges. An additional 50 goats will be added to the herd soon to help complete the job in the next week to 10-days. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

We've gotten a lot of rain lately. How does brush this year compare to previous years? 



Well, this brush before would be like 2 feet. Now it's about 5 feet tall. In some places, it's even taller than that. It's going to be a danger this year coming. You're gonna have 5 feet of brush around your home. You better get a goat man in there, because it's gonna be really dangerous this year. 

Let's take a look at the equipment you're using. I mentioned Boer goats earlier. Is that your goat of choice for this kind of work? 



Yes. These goats are from South Africa. They're brush animals, and they weigh about 200 pounds, and they eat all day long. They have four tummies. They will stand the 110-degree heat in the summertime, and they stand on two feet like a deer and eat up into the tree about 5 feet. 

A herd of 100 South African Boer goats chews on tough weeds and dry grasses to clear a steep hillside lot near the Angels Flight funicular railroad on September 9, 2008 in downtown Los Angeles.
David McNew/Getty Images
A herd of 100 South African Boer goats chews on tough weeds and dry grasses to clear a steep hillside lot near the Angels Flight funicular railroad on September 9, 2008 in downtown Los Angeles.

No goats were available for comment. 

Press the blue bar above to hear the full interview.

(Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.)

Stay Connected