March 17, 2018

Boston Enlists Goats To Combat Poison Ivy

BOSTON — Boston is enlisting goats to combat poison ivy and other invasive plants in a city park.

On Wednesday, four goats began their eight-week stay at an “urban wild” along the Neponset River in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

The goats are expected to feed on poison ivy, buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, and other invasive plant species.

Mayor Martin Walsh’s administration says the public can view the goats, which will be housed behind a low-voltage, solar-powered electric fence to keep coyotes out. But city officials warn visitors should not pet the animals since they will likely have poison ivy oils on their fur.

The city says “goatscaping” is currently used on Boston’s Harbor Islands as well as in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

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Boston Enlists Goats To Combat Poison Ivy

NEW BUSINESS: The Goatscaping Company

A poison ivy bed. Sumac that makes your skin bristle just thinking about it. Throw in a few rocks, some uneven terrain and a hillock, and you can just forget about that lawnmower.

Clearing this piece of land is going to take heavier artillery.

Or maybe “hoovier” artillery.

This is a job for super goats.

Elaine Philbrick and Jim Cormier don’t have to boldly go where no one has gone before; they let their goats do that.

Their herds of goats gobble up poison ivy, oak and sumac without a single blister, chow down on thorns and heavy vegetation in thickets covering rocks and rocky ledges that defy mowers. Hilly terrain and rocks are, in fact, the goats’ joy in life.

They love to climb – anything.

And they love to eat, just about anything.

Located in Plymouth and Duxbury, this goat company is drawing rave reviews and more and more customers who have discovered an alternative for taming an unwieldy parcel.

The Goatscaping Company had humble beginnings, for Jim Cormier at least, who remembered his 2011 volunteer gig at Colchester Neighborhood Farm. A Plymouth resident, Cormier lost his job with a Fall River book company and his friends, Ron and Conni Maribett, needed help on the farm they managed in Plympton. With nothing much else to do, Cormier headed over one day and filled in, cleaning up after the animals, weeding and helping with the harvest.
“I knew nothing about animals and farms,” Cormier said. “I grew up in Hyannis.So, if someone says ‘farm,’ to me, I think cranberries.”

The months went by, and Cormier found a job at Lowe’s, all the while continuing his work at the farm, which had become a joy for him. He loved the animals in particular, and jumped when Elaine Philbrick, a member of the cooperative farm, contacted him about a goat business.

Philbrick, who owned four goats, told Cormier she planned to rent them to a Cohasset business that wanted a difficult parcel of land cleared.

“Count me in,” Cormier responded.

And from that moment on, he has been up to his eyeballs in goats, contracts for goats and a whole lot of fur.

“If you told me 10 years ago that I would co-own and run a goat business, I would have said you were out of your mind,” Cormier said. “I went to school for broadcasting and film, anticipating a job as a program direction. Never in a million years did I anticipate this. It’s just a weird confluence of things.”

Spend an hour with Cormier and his herd and you might be surprised by how friendly and engaging these creatures can be. They only have bottom teeth and do not bite. But, they do love to be scratched and fussed over, and spend a lot of time playing when there’s no brush to devour.

The Goatscaping Company now has dozens upon dozens of goats happily chewing up brush and clearing inhospitable areas that have plagued landowners for years. In addition to avoiding a nasty rash or worse, customers also find this approach environmentally friendly, since it involves no chemicals and no machinery.

For more information on The Goatscaping Company, visit www.gogreengoat.comor www.facebook.com/goatscaping. To schedule a goat-clearing job, contact the company at gogreengoat@gmail.com or 617-283-4088.

Follow Emily Clark on Twitter @emilyOCM.

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NEW BUSINESS: The Goatscaping Company

Get ready for spring with tips and advice on sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, allergies

Get ready for spring with tips and advice on sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, allergies

poison ivy allergies bee stings

GENESEE COUNTY, MI – The warm weather and sunshine finally
seem to be showing up more frequently these days.

Being outdoors and taking advantage of the springtime
weather is great, but this time of the year also brings worries of sunburn, bee stings, poison ivy and allergies.

Health officials in Genesee County have some advice on the springtime
topics and offer some tips about staying comfortable outside:


No, it’s not summer yet. But once the snow melts and the sun
starts to shine, it’s time to think about being protected from the sun, said Dr.
Robert Soderstrom, a Flint Township dermatologist.

People haven’t had to worry about sun exposure all winter,
so oftentimes they forget to worry about it when the weather first starts to
get nice, he said.

“As people go into the spring and summer, we caution people
about sun exposure. People forget,” Soderstrom said. “People have gone months
without any exposure. It doesn’t take much sun for people to burn sometimes.”

From the first of May to the end of September, people should
think about sun protection, he said. Wearing hats, covering up the skin with
clothing and using a sunscreen with at least 15 SPF are ways to protect again
the sun.

As more people begin running, biking and exercising outside,
it’s best to get out before 10 a.m. or after 2 or 3 p.m., when the sun is not at its peak in the sky, Soderstrom said.

“No sunburn is safe,” he said. “A lot of it is just common
sense. We ask people to keep it in mind.”

Bee stings

This is the time that bees start waking up, but a single
sting with minor swelling isn’t anything to worry about, local physicians said.

If someone, however, starts to have trouble breathing, they
become dizzy, get hives or their tongue starts swelling up, then emergency care
is needed right away, said Dr. Gerald Natzke, a Flint Township environmental
medicine specialist.

If the sting causes pain, itching or some swelling, it is
suggested to use Calamine lotion or take Benadryl.

Baking soda mixed with water is an old trick to help with
the itch from a bee sting. One trick some may not know is you can make a
similar paste with meat tenderizer and water, Natzke said.

“Bee venom is a protein. It can be denatured by using the
meat tenderizers,” he said.

Poison Ivy

poison ivy
Get ready for spring with tips and advice on sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, allergies

Living in Michigan,
knowing what poison ivy looks like is important, Soderstrom said.

“Poison ivy is an epidemic in Michigan. It is everywhere. It
starts out this type of year as a low-growing weed and then begins vining up in
the summertime,” he said.

Eastern poison ivy is typically a hairy, ropelike vine with
three shiny green (or red in the fall) leaves budding from one small stem,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Western
poison ivy is typically a low shrub with three leaves that does not form a
climbing vine. It may have yellow or green flowers and white to green-yellow or
amber berries.

Soderstrom said it’s known for its three leaves.

Poison ivy, however, is not just found in the woods, he
said. People can come in contact with it while gardening, in a park, off in the
weeds or climbing up a tree or house, he said.

While some people will be unaffected when coming into
contact with poison ivy, others will be greatly affected after only a short
exposure to it, Soderstrom said.

A poison ivy reaction often shows as a rash or blisters in a
straight line and it takes about 24 to 48 hours to really break out. The rash
will get worse within the first few days before it gets better, and it can take
about two or three weeks to completely clear up, he said.

Over-the-counter medication, like Calamine lotion, will help
with the itching, but if it blisters, people need prescription medicine,
Soderstrom said.

Poison ivy contact really starts picking up in the
middle of May and grows rather dramatically in the summer. If people know they
are going to be in weeded areas or the woods, they should wear long sleeves
and pants, he said.

Once someone realizes they’ve been in contact with poison
ivy, they should shower and soap up within 30 minutes, Soderstrom said. Poison
ivy cannot be spread from one person to another, but it can be spread off the clothing
the person was wearing if they are not washed right after contact.


Believe it or not, allergy season has already began, said

Get ready for spring with tips and advice on sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, allergies

Trees are releasing pollen and have been for
a while, he said. Grass allergies won’t be far away, along with mold allergies.

“We have a lot of trees in this area, so it’s real common to
have tree-sensitive individuals,” Natzke said. “It’s going to come out full
force here in the next few weeks.”

Shortness of breath, coughing, watery and itchy eyes and
runny nose are all signs of allergies. If allergies to pollen or grass are not
an issue, spring is a great time to open the windows and air out the house to
let chemicals out and fresh air in, Natzke said.

If allergies are a problem, opening the windows might make
it worse, so Natzke suggested getting an air purifier.

With spring just beginning, it might be a good time to talk
with a physician about the best ways to control allergies, he said.

Medications are good for people who have mild to moderate
allergies for a short period of time, Natzke said. There is nasal spray
available to get some of the pollen and mold out of the nose.

“Allergies are getting worse and getting more prevalent,”
Natzke said, noting that decreased immune systems have a lot to do with it. “Put
yourself in a healthier place, by reducing stressers and improving their sleep
habits, exercise and reducing exposure to toxins.”

Exposure to chemicals from things such as potent household
cleaners, pesticides and smoke and wood burning stoves increase the potential
for the development allergies. As the warmer
weather encourages spring cleaning and painting, Natzke advised people to be
cautious of the products they use.


Although it’s not common in the area, springtime is a good
time to be aware of the disease.

Rabies is a viral disease that is usually transmitted from animal
to animal, but can also infect humans as a result of an animal bite, according
to the Genesee County Health Department’s website.

People are out
and about and playing, they could come certainly in contact with certain type
of animals and animals that may appear wild or have abnormal behavior and can
be bitten,” said Dr. Gary Johnson, Genesee County Health Department medical
director. “Just be on the lookout for any type of animal that looks (and acts)

Animals most affected by rabies are wild animals such as
skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats. Domestic animals – usually unvaccinated cats
and dogs – can also spread the virus, according to the website.

Johnson said people should not try to capture a wild animal
they think is affected with rabies. If bitten by a wild animal, the individual
should call their primary health care provider or visit an emergency room.

For more information about rabies and what to do if bitten,
visit the Genesee County Health Department’s website.

Get ready for spring with tips and advice on sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, allergies

Get ready for spring with tips and advice on sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, allergies
Get ready for spring with tips and advice on sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, allergies
Get ready for spring with tips and advice on sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, allergies

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