Monks Goats and Land Stewardship

A recent initiative  in New Melleray’s Forestry program will put monks and goats in a collaborative relationship as land-stewards, all for the glory of God.  Forest Management is more than just hours and hours of tough physical work.  It involves creativity and ingenuity and, at times, surprising solutions to especially challenging problems.  An on-going challenge for any Forest Manager is non-native invasive species that crowd out young tree seedlings whose flourishing is a priority for the monks and our Forester.  One of the more potent of these “invaders” is Japanese Knotweed which can grow to ten feet high, smothers, almost all the vegetation around it and is very difficult to contain and kill.  Herbicides are the “no-brainer” solution to this problem, but these are potentially risky.  Recently, we decided to try something – a little different.  “Goats To Go – Dubuque“, a local outfit, is working with us to fend off an invasion of Japanese Knotweed on our property.  A small collection of goats are fenced into an area over-run with the pesty weed and confined there until they have eaten all the weeds.  Then, they are re-located to another area and go to work again.  Evidently, Knotweed tastes good to them and they are eating a LOT of it!  Bless their souls.  The monks are collaborating with government agencies to research how this form of conservation might be a model for efforts conducted in other parts of the state.  In the photo below, the left side of Catfish Creek is completely over-run with Knotweed.  The other side of the creek shows you the fine work of our goat-collaborators.  In the second photo: a picture of our fat and contented team after a hard day of work.