It's summer, and the blackberries in your backyard have now, like a scene from The Blob , subsumed the garage, children's jungle gym, patio, and

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Best Weed-Control Technology/Neighborhood Conversation Starter

Rent-a-Ruminant

It's summer, and the blackberries in your backyard have now, like a scene from The Blob, subsumed the garage, children's jungle gym, patio, and possibly the family golden retriever, which hasn't been seen for weeks. Sure, you could fire up the gas-powered weed-whacker, but it's loud, noisy, and unforgivably not green as it belches clouds of CO2 into the same air breathed by your disapproving, Prius-driving neighbors. What to do? Hire a herd from Vashon Island's Rent-a-Ruminant and its proprietor, Tammy Dunakin, who lists her title as "Chief Goat Wrangler." (Who wouldn't want that on their résumé?) Goats will eat almost any form of vegetation, and they're ideally suited to steep or rough terrain that rider-mowers can't reach. (Also, unlike motor-powered shrub control, never in human history has a goat chopped off the toe of an inattentive goatherd.) Granted, your yard will have to be fairly large: Dunakin's minimums for her 60 four-legged lawnmowers are 8,000 square feet, three days, and $825 per day. But given the amount of attention her goats draw—clearing thistles at the UW or Scotch broom along the highways—you could probably recoup some of that cost with a lemonade stand catering to the families and kids who will stop by to gawk. For environmentally correct brush clearing, it's a service (get ready for it) you can't bleat.—Brian Miller

 
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