Aug. 30, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

The Ghosts Who Stare at Goats or All-You-Can-Eat at Congressional Cemetery

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Eco-Goats are released Wednesday at the historic Congressional Cemetery to start the process of clearing land that borders the cemetery.

That’s a bit of an understatement. D.C. public health officials and animal control officers had to sign off on the plan. There is also a residential component to the neighborhood, a growing part of the Hill East section of Capitol Hill. But the goats will largely be out of sight from most of the public. They will be contained in areas with a heavy presence of invasive species. And the grounds themselves will not be “mowed” by any goats.

Indeed, at 8:30 a.m., a couple of hours before the Eco-Goats’ arrival party, the cemetery’s mowing crew was trimming in its normal rounds. No goat will nibble on the cenotaph of John Quincy Adams. Not that there would be a problem with that in the first place, Knox said.

“They pretty well know what they’re doing,” Knox said of the goats, adding, “They’ve got very nimble lips and teeth.” They use those lips and teeth to explore what they want to eat, kind of like young human kids. “They do not eat tin cans,” he said. Of that, there was disagreement among the crowd, including this reporter, who has had buttons off his shirt eaten by goats in a corral while tending to an ailing horse.

At any rate, Williams said the association concluded this was a deal, and environmentally friendly to boot. For $4,000, the cemetery got up to 70 goats noshing away for six days.

The goats will be dining until Aug. 12, and the public is invited to come down and check them out. Just mind where you put your hands. If the electric fence separating the goats from the grounds doesn’t get you, what remains of the poison sumac will.

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