Cool. Nature's lawn-mower. I wonder if there are any mini-goats bred around here.
Seattle homeowners may keep miniature goats as petsP-I reporter Angela Galloway can be reached at 206-448-8333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're not kidding: Small goats are now fair game in Seattle.
Seattle homeowners may keep miniature goats as pets, thanks to a measure approved Monday by the City Council.
"This is part of our idea that sustainability involves both the large and the small acts," said Councilman Richard Conlin, who sponsored the legislation at the request of a single goat-loving constituent.
Mike Urban / P-I
Jennie Grant gets a kiss from her goat Snowflake after milking time at her home in Seattle on Tuesday. Snowflake produces about a half-gallon of milk a day, Grant says.
"This doesn't apply to a whole lot of people, but there are a significant number of people who are interested in it," Conlin said.
Miniature goats, which include pygmy and dwarf goats, are usually no larger than big dogs. The average mini-goat might weigh 50 to 100 pounds, according to city officials.
Under Seattle's new rules, they are to be regulated similar to cats, dogs and small potbelly pigs. Owners must get a goat license, at $30 the first year, $20 to renew. Male goats must be neutered; all goats are to be dehorned.
It all started after Jennie Grant's Madrona neighbors began complaining to city officials about her pair of miniature goats: Snowflake and Brownie.
Grant got the goats about a year ago after sampling -- and loving -- farm-fresh goat's milk.
"It didn't have that goaty taste that the goat's milk at the grocery store has," said Grant, who also owns several chickens and a pug dog. "It was sort of a richer, sweeter (version of) cows' milk -- something you could happily put on your cereal.
"I was really concerned about factory farms and I didn't want to buy milk that was from a cow that had been locked in a little area," she added.
These days, Snowflake produces about a half-gallon of milk a day, Grant said. With time and more breeding, she might well have more to offer. Snowflake and Brownie live in a 20- foot-by-20-foot fenced area and a small shed in Grant's yard.
Recently, Snowflake and Brownie apparently got the goat of a neighbor. Someone who apparently thought the goats were unsanitary apparently reported the goats to the city Department of Planning and Development as a zoning violation, Grant said.
"It was sort of this disease scare that turned out to have nothing to do with me," Grant said. "But once you call the DPD, you can't call them off."
DPD told her she had to get rid of the goats, Grant said. So she turned to Conlin "because he lives in the neighborhood and he always seems to have a nice smile on his face."
The next day, Grant got an e-mail back from Conlin's office saying it wanted to help her. While that office researched goat laws in other cities, Grant established an informal lobbying organization: the Goat Justice League.
"We realized it was a kind of a silly issue, but an important one," Grant said. "It sounded strange, but why not?"
They collected 975 petition signatures and signed on 100 card-carrying members, she said. "We would have more, but I ran out of cards," said Grant, who acknowledged the ranks fell to 99 Monday when a goat ate half of one of the cards.
Not long after, her little idea had become city law without much effort. "It was amazingly smooth and clean and fast," she said.
The City Council attached to the law its finding that goats "are considered excellent pets due to their good-natured personalities, friendliness, faithfulness, and hardy constitution."
And the council declared: "Female and neutered male goats do not generate significant odors."
And who knows, maybe llamas are next.
"Why stop there? Why not add sheep, llamas, alpacas -- I mean we could go on," Councilman Peter Steinbrueck said Monday, semi-seriously. "There are arguments to be made that could achieve greater heights of urban sustainability by bringing farms back into the city and farm animals."
CARING FOR GOATS
Goats like to eat corn, oats, alfalfa hay and grass hay. They drink water from a bucket. Like other animals, they also enjoy a salt block. Experts advise using 48-inch cattle wire as fencing.
I didn't do much today either.