PARKER, Colo. — When Sonia Benglen moved into the Bell Cross Ranch neighborhood in unincorporated Parker, wildlife was right at her doorstep -- birds catching bugs in the tall grass, deer walking through her field.
But there was a problem.
"I was kinda shocked to see a trailer and a guy in a hazmat suit with a big tank running around spraying blue chemicals," Benglen said.
She says that blue stuff was chemical weed killer. So, she joined the homeowner association (HOA) and convinced enough of the board to try a different approach.
"I just looked up natural weed control and goats came up," she said.
That's why for the next 10 days, yards and fields surrounding homes in her neighborhood will be full of hundreds of bleating goats, chomping down on noxious weeds.
"In my opinion, it's great to see nature take care of nature instead of toxicity," Benglen said.
The folks making sure the herd stays on task are mother and son team Lani Malmberg and Donny Benz.
"We started this business as an alternative to using machinery and chemicals," Malmberg said.
And according to Malmberg and Benz, the HOA is getting some serious bang for its buck; the duo claims their goats do more than just weed. Their split hooves till the soil, their waste fertilizes native grasses, and after they have a drink of water, they spread those nutrients around the field, too.
"This is living energy of 40 tons of a self-propelled machine," Malmberg said.
Eight hundred goats were brought in for this project. The goats ensure the weeds can't reproduce by completely stripping the plants from the flowers to the leaves.
"It can't go to seed and it can't photosynthesize," Malmberg said.
It's fun for neighbors to stop and watch the goats work, Benglen said, and as a retired microbiologist, she hopes that this natural weeding can halt the disruptions taking place in her backyard ecosystem.
"We chose to live here in this field," she said. "Why we'd choose to poison the whole area is beyond me."
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