Blue Mountains Councillor Brent Hoare has found an environmentally sensitive way to clean up his yard - goat power.
A dozen Mudgee goats moved into the weedy empty block next to his Hazelbrook home on Wednesday. They are expected to remain for up to three weeks.
The Greens councillor for Ward 2 wants to clear the site for his new hemp house without the use of herbicides.
The 780 square metre block is overrun with jasmine and pittosporum. At $70 a day for the goats, it worked out cheaper than hiring manual labour and heavy equipment.
A couple from Dry Creek Farm supplied the goats and said it's the sixth Mountains property in the past three months utilising their goats as an alternative to block clearing. The couple set up a temporary 100 metres of electric fencing as a pen. Once secure and the site checked for toxic plants and shade, the weed eaters got to work immediately.
Dry Creek's Michael Blewitt said they removed weeds (mostly blackberry) from their own 260 acre property over a year with 20 goats and then cottoned onto the idea that other people might have use for them.
"We'd also run out of food for them," he added laughing. It almost profitable enough for him to give up his day job at a council.
Mr Blewitt said one of their first yards in Katoomba attracted an audience every night, with the neighbours relaxing over wine and watching the goats in action.
"It was the talk of the town. The first Katoomba job they were spending their evenings drinking wine out with the goats … they were having a couple of glasses of red, they sent us a photo with the goats."
Cr Hoare said he too was enjoying having the country goats living next door. He was used to handling goats, having had a job in his university holidays in the late 1980s as a goat wrangler on a New Zealand farm.
"It was a big job getting them all dosed up. One of many university jobs. They were quite wild, to be able to drench them you had to grab them by the horns and hold them between the legs. It was good exercise."
Cr Hoare hopes others will be inspired to consider the alternatives to herbicides and he will submit a proposal to council to investigate using goats as an alternative weed mitigation strategy.