It started with a photo on Facebook – the report of goats taking over a hillside near Laguna Honda Hospital. After more reports over the next few days, we decided we’d heard enough of the rumors and had to go see them for ourselves. All we knew was that the goats were near the intersection of Laguna Honda Boulevard and Clarendon Avenue – an unusually natural corner of San Francisco with the sprawling Laguna Honda Hospital, SF’s city run nursing home, on one side and the Laguna Honda Reservoir , on the other. The reservoir is owned by the water company that hasn’t been used since 1906 when the pipes where damaged in the Great Earthquake. Since the reservoir no longer stores or moves water in San Francisco , the water company, the PUC, wants to transfer the land to Parks and Rec, who sadly can’t afford to maintain the land – and so it stays a little bit of nature in the middle of SF, home to native plants and occasionally, a homeless encampment. It feels like your are far outside the city, rather than being in the middle.
But this is supposed to be about the goats…we took the 43 Muni bus to the designated corner and were expecting a sea of goats waiting for us. We were unfortunately disappointed and after being confused for a minute we headed up Clardendon, walking along the north side of Laguna Honda Hospital, searching for goats.
It didn’t take long to finally find it – the Valley of the Goats. It was shocking. I mean, I’ve seen a goat., somewhere. Its probably been awhile; but hanging out with farmers and permaculture geeks, I hear about goats and know people who love them. And recently z has been fantasizing about being a goat herder and making goat cheese. But this was ALOT of goats, in all their goat-iness, running around, scratching their heads on tree trunks , making goat noises and eating anything green that they could reach. They were all along the fence at the sidewalk, through the trees, running down the hillside and filling the valley.
Hundreds of goats, probably, of the Angora and Alpine variety. And they must have arrived starving, because they’ll be eating their way across the Laguna Honda property for most of the month of February. Apparently the Laguna Honda Hospital has been doing this every spring since 2005, when 1,000 goats from Sycamore Farms in Santa Cruz arrived to rid the hillsides of brush that becomes flammable during the dry summers. And they were doing a great job. They had no problem getting stuck in all the thorny blackberry brambles, reaching for the low hanging tree branches and scrambling on the steep hillside eating away.