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June 2002 Blether:
2002 Patrick Vickery

'The Goat Blether'

'Blether' is a Scottish word meaning a good chat (a good blether), often a long and lazy relaxed chat at that, and sometimes over a dram or two of whisky!

e-mail Patrick at: aldieburnplants@aol.com

Patrick Vickery lives in the Scottish Highlands with his wife, three children, two dogs, two goats and an assortment of smaller animals. They live in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world.

Patrick runs a small Garden Nursery (part-time), is a Garden Writer (part-time) with a particular interest in the humourous side of things (especially the things that go wrong!), and works part-time as a Special Needs Teacher.

Patrick's first gardening book  In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden. ISBN: 186163148 has recently been published. A 'how-to' book - a book that shows how to make your garden productive in a variety of ways, for both expert and gardening novice alike, at minimum cost and in an innovative and self-financing way, using a raised bed system of propagation, and concentrating primarily on hardy perennial plants that can be raised and grown outdoors without the aid of a polytunnel or greenhouse.

Available direct from the Publisher at: Capall Bann Publishing, UK; from bookshops; or from Amazon.co.uk via the Internet.

     Time to cut the grass again? Lawn mower out of action?  Borrow a goat. Yes, a goat. Not as neat as a lawn mower, granted, but good enough for me. Cuts and
fertilizes at the same time. In one end, out the other. 'Cuts the grass and
feeds the lawn.'  So borrow a goat or even better get your own.

     We have three goats ourselves and they do an excellent job of keeping the
grass down, although they can be a trifle indiscriminate at times.  Mathilda,
Biff and Nettle a Toggenburg and two Saanens.
     The front garden is well-fenced off and so that's where we put them when the
grass needs cutting. They will eat everything of course, so first we cover
the bamboo, the clematis and the conifers with plastic bin liners. They're
not very good at a light trimming of course, big mouthfuls of grass from the
centre of the lawn is more their thing, not good at neat edges where the
grass and the fence line meet, but in general they do a good job.You could
hang on to their back legs and hold them up, I suppose, direct the head sort
of thing, but I don't think this would really work, no, no, not really, you'd
need a sheep for that, more manageable, smaller too, though hardly acceptable
behaviour, is it?
     But if you do decide to go for the goat option, beware of Rhododendrons.
Rhododendrons are poisonous to goats. Nettle ate a Rhododendron once, four
or five mouthfuls before we realised what was going on. She survived to tell
the tale, mind, but when we opened the goat shed the following morning we
discovered the true meaning of liquid manure and projectile vomiting. Not a
pretty sight. Not nice for the other goats either. But if you're careful, no
rhododendrons, cover your shrubs with bin bags, then a goat will save you
time and money in the long run. A good investment, you see, for there's no
petrol required, no servicing and no costly repair bills. Highly reliable
too, and certainly nothing that a journey in the back of the car to the local
vet won't sort out. They'll chew the car seats perhaps, maybe even the hair
off the top of your head, but they don't mind a car journey at all.
Affectionate animals environmentally friendly to boot. And let's not
forget those wonderful goat droppings for the compost heap.
     Now while on this theme of grass cutting, I've often wondered about those
houses with turf roofs   'Eco-houses' (is that what they're called?). How
would you get a goat up there? Sheep are no good, are they? They'd fall off.
     No, it has to be a goat, doesn't it? But how would you get a goat on the
roof in the first place?  Now there's a mystery.

(copy write Patrick Vickery 2002)