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Renegade goats flee, but ‘repent’ at Coupeville church

A herd of goats helping a property owner eliminate blackberry bushes from a property near the intersection of Gould and Front streets in Coupeville broke free from their pen and visited a church parking lot blocks away.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
A herd of goats helping a property owner eliminate blackberry bushes from a property near the intersection of Gould and Front streets in Coupeville broke free from their pen and visited a church parking lot blocks away.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

A herd of small goats took a break from their job Saturday night to tour part of Coupeville.

Dozens of goats and one llama brought in to tackle a weed problem escaped their portable pen near the intersection of Gould and Front streets sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

By the time they had been discovered, they were blocks away in the parking lot of Coupeville Community Bible Church on Otis Street.

“They did what goats and llamas do,” Pastor Rick Karjalainen joked, noting they trimmed the grass, fertilized the parking lot and pruned some of the flowers while they were on the church property.

The goats belonged to Akyla Farms, based in Sedro-Woolley. The goats were in Coupeville to help a property owner tackle an ivy and blackberry bush problem.

“What we think happened is something spooked them in the middle of the night,” Akyla Farms owner Carol Osterman said in a Monday morning interview.

One of the goats managed to topple the small electrified fence that corrals them and they were able to get away.

The property owner who hired the goats helped corral them back into their pen, Osterman said.

She has dozens of goats that provide a natural way to help remove unwanted ivy and blackberry bushes that can overgrow a property.

The goats, along with a llama named Fiber – who accompanies the goats and protects them – arrived at the property located next to the town’s wastewater treatment plant Thursday and were taken home Monday afternoon.

Her goats have visited Coupeville before. In September 2011, the herd spent several days at Town Park in Coupeville to help remove some overgrown blackberry bushes and ivy.

She generally uses a portable electrified powered by a solar-powered battery backup to contain the goats.

The fence not only serves to contain the goats, but to prevent outside animals from threatening the herd. Osterman said if the goats get scared enough, they could break free.

Coupeville Town Marshal Lance Davenport said he hasn’t received any reports of damage related to the night-time breakout.

Osterman said she is going to be more careful about where to place the goats and double check for any wildlife trails that could pose a problem.

Karjalainen said that one of the people worshiping at the community church swept the parking lot to make sure none of the goat’s “fertilizer” was tracked inside.

“It’s part of living on Whidbey Island,” Karjalainen said.

 

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