Scott Waddle is best at tearing ivy off tall trees. Chainsaw is a machine, trimming anything in sight. Donkey likes to clear the Scotch broom. Barnie Rebel, aka Lumpy, is the workhorse, the one who will do any old job thrown at him while hoarding food in his left cheek.
Scott, Chainsaw, Donkey and Lumpy are goats. But they’re also Linda Williams’ employees.
A year ago, Williams, a former Intel engineer, became the third owner of Westside Goat Girl (wsgoatgirl.com), a company that makes use of the insatiable appetites of the Capra aegagrus hircus to clear residential and commercial properties of blackberries, Scotch broom, overgrown grass and other foliage.
Williams, 57, keeps a crew of 26 goats at a farm in Gaston. She trucks out about 15 to 19 for each project, which can take anywhere from four to seven days. Prior to delivery, Williams scopes out the property, puts up an electric fence so the goats stay confined, and then drops them off. From there, they munch, tear and eat away, 24/7, until the property is sufficiently cleared.
“Usually, the first night I can’t sleep,” Williams says. “I’m wondering how well I did the fence and were there any predators. Each morning I’m out there pretty quickly, and then I start to relax.”
In the past year, Williams has served about 20 clients and is currently booked through September. Her next big project is taking her goats to an apartment complex right across from the Nike campus so they can trim brush and plants along a stream that cuts through the property.
It’s a far cry from her previous gig in the corporate tech world. But Williams loves it.
“Other retirees refinish furniture,” she says. “I’m the crazy goat lady equivalent to the crazy cat lady.”