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For many years I waged a war against the jungle invading my backyard. For those of you who have never lived here, northwest Georgia has some of the qualities of a tropical jungle – tenacious plants, dense foliage, roots the size of your forearm, hard-to-dig clay soil and bugs. Big ugly biting bugs. And lots and lots of poison ivy.

We also have kudzu. Kudzu grows a foot a day. (How do you plant kudzu? Drop a seed in the ground and then run very fast.) My yard has invasive wisteria which is a lot like kudzu. It’s pretty for a couple of weeks in the spring when it is covered with beautiful purple flower clusters. Then it morphs into an evil green vine that smothers trees and buildings.

For many years I spent hours and hours every week engaged in a fruitless attempt to reclaim my yard. And for many years I had to admit defeat. No matter what I used, the weapons in my arsenal were ineffective against the invaders. Poison? Wisteria laughs at herbicides. And I felt uncomfortable spraying toxic pesticides near a pond with nesting ducks. Pruning shears and loppers worked as long as I spent every weekend chopping and hacking. Large gas-powered turbo weed whackers worked as long as I used a special metal blade designed to cut vines but the resulting wrist and elbow pain was not good.

Nothing I tried had any long term effect and the holding action was sapping my energy.  What I was doing was not working and would never give me the results I wanted. I finally realized it was time to try something new.

Inspiration came from an unexpected place. Reading an article about brush clearance in Southern California led to my discovery of the power of goats. That’s right – goats. Clearing brush is what goats are designed to do. They thrive on brush. Wisteria is a delicacy. Invasive Chinese privet is dessert. Poison ivy is no problem. Little goat hooves have great traction on the steep slopes that caused me so much grief.

Goats are undemanding and require minimal maintenance. Provide shelter from the rain and they are happy. Goat chow is cheap and they only need it as a treat when they have space to browse on brush. Goats don’t bark like dogs and they poop small neat pellets which make great fertilizer. I say that my goats are the ultimate green landscapers. No chemicals, no fossil fuels and they weed and feed at the same time. They also work better than most of the people we have hired to clear brush.


Chewy and the Colonel

In a year, Chewy and The Colonel tamed our jungle. In fact, they did such a good job that two of our neighbors asked to borrow them. Today they are off at summer camp at one of our neighbors, working their magic on the neighbors’ backyard.

I don’t miss spending my spare time doing something I was not designed to do well. I had to think outside the box and look for answers in unexpected places. It took a little creativity and a little research to find this solution to my problem but it was worth it.

Now instead of slaving away with loppers and power tools, I stand in my backyard sipping a cup of tea and staring at the goats as they happily do what they were meant to do. And I spend my time doing what I was meant to do.

What is your jungle? Is it losing weight, clearing out clutter, changing jobs or careers or finding that special person to share your life? When what you have been doing isn’t working, it’s time to look out of the box for a solution. Keeping an open mind and exploring many options can open new possibilities for you. Acting on these possibilities will empower you to make a difference in your life.

Taking bold action allowed me to free myself to spend my time staring at goats instead of acting like one. What action can you take today to tame your jungle?