goat lady” travels with nature's weed eaters
by C. Patrick Cleary | Daily Sentinel | June 26, 1999
She calls herself the gypsy goat lady.
Lani Benz Lamming last year put 62,000 miles on her pickup tracking her angora and cashmere goats as they munched the pests of the West -noxious weeds and salt cedar.
Two hundred goats were tucked under the shade of some tamarisk, or salt cedar, at Lorna Point in the Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area Friday, minding themselves while munching on Russian knapweed.
This band of goats had previously been in Delta and Pueblo and was headed for Paonia and a star-studded subdivision in Aspen.
They've been in the one-acre electric-fenced spot for only a day and already the trunks of the tama risk were stripped and the Russian knapweed was falling prey to that distinctive round-house jaw movement of the goat.
"The nice thing about goats is, man, they eat," said Lamming, a Mesa State College graduate. "They eat everything there is. They are workaholics. They wake up and get right to work."
Lamming starts to laugh at the thought. Meanwhile, those round-house jaws all around her kept right on working.
There is plenty to jaw on as the West, according to Lamming, is being overrun with weeds at a rate of 1.5 million acres per year. In some states, including Colorado, noxious weed eradication is mandatory.
The goats feed chain has them eating noxious weeds first, then the tamarisk, Russian olive, perennial pepperweed, whitetop and then grass.
Lamming just doesn't have the goats to keep pace. She owns 550 on her ranch outside Jackson, Wyo." and contracts another 1,150 for both public and private contracts. The goats in the state wildlife area have been at work on several plots for the past two weeks.
Lamming graduated from Mesa in 1994 and received a masters degree in weed science from Colorado State University.
Lamming last year mortgaged her pickup truck, borrowed her two sons' college money and bought 250 cashmere goats thinking she had found a niche.
She formed a company called Ewe4ic Ecological Services.
The name fit the design. The goats are euphoric when they are knee-deep in weeds -their preferred food -and humans are all for it when they see the work the goats perform.
Lamming left Jackson Thursday afternoon to drive to the wildlife area for a demonstration for city, county, state and federal officials.
She left shortly after noon to drive to Meeker. She contracted 750 goats from Montana for a leafy spurge eradication project on private land just north of Meeker along Colorado Highway 13.
She also has projects in Wyoming and Utah. Her goats are set to go to Canon City because of a lawsuit, no pesticides are allowed to be used on a couple canyons there.
"I'm just a gypsy goat lady," Lamming said.
Lani Benz Lamming walks among some of the 200 cashmere and angora goats eating Russian knapweed and stripping the bark from salt cedar in Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area. The Jackson, Wyo. rancher and her goats travel throughout the West battling the bane of farmers and recreationalists.