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The Goats Of Arlington

By Greg L | 27 May 2008 | Arlington County | 28 Comments

If Arlington residents Bryant Nichols and Matt Haggerty get their way, their county will take on a distinctly rural character where keeping livestock is permitted as long as someone can plausibly claim that they’re keeping their animals as pets.  According to the Sun Gazette, these two bought a pair of goats, which do helpful things like crop the grass in their yard, provide fertilizer, and create some amusing spectacles such as the time they escaped and ran down to the corner of Lee Highway and George Mason to the surprise of residents who aren’t accustomed to such things.  Now having been told that they’re in violation of local zoning ordinances, they’re mounting a fight to have the rules that prohibit their “pets” changed.

There’s another urban area where livestock as “pets” are permitted, under some conditions.  South-Central Los Angeles has become a hotspot of local residents keeping livestock on their urban properties, which has allowed some residents to partially replicate the character of their previous hometowns, giving this once largely African-American community a distinctly international and diverse flavor.

“Sometimes, I think it’s Mexico,” said Tony Johnson, who lives in Southeast L.A. He confessed that after being roused early some mornings, he has fantasized about silencing the birds permanently. “Boom. Boom. Boom,” he said, pantomiming how he would do it.

But a few blocks away, Jose Luiz, 43, seemed surprised that anyone would be bothered by the noise.

“It’s natural to have roosters,” he said as he surveyed a new community garden where corn, squash and tomatoes were growing. “I’m Mexican. We are accustomed to hearing them.”

Not surprisingly, there’s some degree of controversy about the benefits of allowing residents to keep livestock in urban or semi-urban areas.  Some may appreciate the opportunity to see and hear various animals in their neighborhood, but it can cause a few problems, and enforcing whatever requirements for setbacks and enclosures can be a complicated and time consuming effort for local zoning authorities and animal control officers.  Enforcing the occupancy limitations on single-family residences is a difficult job that local governments have struggled with, and enforcing restrictions on urban animal husbandry is doubtless a similarly daunting task. For Los Angeles, this has resulted in a few problems:

In South Los Angeles, on the other hand, the crowing — and bleating, quacking, honking, oinking and neighing — has been a growing source of irritation, with callers lighting up city phone lines demanding that officials do something.

An 11-year-old boy was chased home from school by a rooster, according to his mother, who did not want his name published.

Around the same time, on the same street, some roosters mysteriously disappeared out of a backyard, according to resident Dwight Johnson, who said the birds’ owner walked up and down the street looking for them.

Animal Services Officer Jose Gonzalez, who patrols the southern part of the city, said he’s getting around five calls a week about rooster noise. He’s also had reports about a pig running down Central Avenue and a man who kept goats in his backyard and posted signs advertising slaughterhouse services.

Boks said Animal Services deals with about 150 reports of unauthorized slaughtering a year.

Arlington now has an opportunity to cement environemental activists who prefer goats to lawnmowers, and perhaps newer residents who miss the familiar sights, sounds and smells of earlier days when they strolled the streets of a Central American nation along with the local livestock.  It’s a political marriage that will probably be warmly welcomed by Arlington County Chairman Walter Tejada, and an opportunity to introduce even more diversity that would be hard for him to pass up.  There may be some local residents that won’t be too thrilled about the concept of borrowing ideas from South-Central Los Angeles and employing them in Arlington.  Whether they’ll be heard or not, we’ll have to see.



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28 Comments

  1. Krutis said on 27 May 2008 at 2:14 pm:
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    Maybe some of the PWC overgrown lots could use a few goats and sheep. With snakes taking care of rats and similar invaders, the place could be naturally cleaned up. :)

    Chickens wouldn’t do much for the environment, though.

  2. theproofisinthepudding said on 27 May 2008 at 2:16 pm:
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    Krustis-

    Chickens actually serve as natural pest control and their manure is fantastic in the garden.

  3. Krutis said on 27 May 2008 at 2:22 pm:
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    theproof… - What kind of pests do chickens control? Insects maybe; I don’t know. However, I DO know that their manure stinks AND … they make too much noise too early for natural comfort in populated areas.

  4. BattleCat said on 27 May 2008 at 2:24 pm:
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    Over on Anti-BVBL, they’re touting the use of illegal immigrants in controlling overgrown grass (and the benefits of their manure as well!)

  5. Dolph said on 27 May 2008 at 3:27 pm:
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    Battlecat,

    I find that hard to belief. That is rather disgusting. Any proof of that assertion?

  6. Dolph said on 27 May 2008 at 3:35 pm:
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    I don’t mind hearing roosters. I used to live in the City and you could always hear roosters. Some lived on Prince William Street and on those farms over past GT South. I guess it got too citified for that now. Walking where chickens and roosters have been in another story. Yuck. They just do not belong in residential neighborhoods, if for no other reason, they just don’t stay where they belong. Roosters can be mean. Ducks and Geese are even more vicious. They will chase a mailman or other pedestrian for a block or so.

    Goats stink. They don’t belong on less than an acre of land. Even an acre is cutting it real close in my opinion. If food keeps getting more costly, I expect to see victory gardens springing up.

  7. Tyler Durden said on 27 May 2008 at 4:13 pm:
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    Sheep, goats, roosters, ducks, geese, snakes, rats, ticks mosquitoes. I’ll take any or all of them over a neighborhood full of illegal aliens and their fat broad apologists.

    Cut your own grass and wash your own toilets. Put an illegal out of work.

  8. Anonymous said on 27 May 2008 at 4:37 pm:
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    Tyler Durden,

    Instead of getting rid of Sheep, goats, roosters, ducks, geese, snakes, rats, ticks mosquitoes, why don’t we just get rid of you?

  9. Rick Bentley said on 27 May 2008 at 4:46 pm:
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    Embrace diversity. Learn to love the goats. And the chicken coops.

    Is that chicken coop in Mr. Principi’s district still active? And the outdoor stove?

  10. Maureen Wood said on 27 May 2008 at 5:06 pm:
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    Off topic but a story you need to read.
    Immigration case puts focus on landlords
    It’s the first time feds have tried to prosecute property owners for renting to illegal residents

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/5800328.html

  11. Maureen Wood said on 27 May 2008 at 5:20 pm:
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    Here’s another story.
    Project Immigration: Don’t Come to the U.S.
    The WJLA News (Washington, DC), May 26, 2008
    http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0508/523045.html

  12. A Reader said on 27 May 2008 at 5:45 pm:
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    This is not a farming community. Get the livestock out of here. I don’t want to hear, smell, or see barnyard animals on my street that has been zoned residential.

  13. es_la_ley said on 27 May 2008 at 5:59 pm:
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    Dolph said on 27 May 2008 at 3:35 pm:

    I don’t mind hearing roosters. I used to live in the City and you could always hear roosters.

    A previous owner of my home had some cattle, goats and chickens. This is not a farm - just a couple acres close to Lake Jackson. The story goes that the neighbors were peeved at the smell and ’somehow’ got him to pack up and move everything - but he left an ill-tempered rooster that chased anything in its sight. He crowed every morning too.

    Well, as diversity would have it, a den of foxes moved in and the rooster soon disappeared, as well as most of the stray cats in the neighborhood. They’re good neighbors. :-)

  14. BattleCat said on 27 May 2008 at 9:46 pm:
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    Dolph,

    Proof of your assertion…..that’s rich :)

  15. Liela said on 27 May 2008 at 10:07 pm:
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    Dolph said on 27 May 2008 at 3:35 pm:
    I don’t mind hearing roosters…..

    Of course you don’t; what old hen would?

  16. Che' said on 27 May 2008 at 10:09 pm:
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    BattleCat said on 27 May 2008 at 2:24 pm:
    Over on Anti-BVBL, they’re touting the use of illegal immigrants in controlling overgrown grass (and the benefits of their manure as well!)

    Any 7-Eleven manager can verify the benefits claim. Just go look at the size of the weeds behind any store!

  17. Dolph said on 27 May 2008 at 10:28 pm:
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    Battlecat,

    Rich and nonexistent from what I can tell. I thought maybe you could do a cut and paste if such a comment exists.

  18. Anonymous said on 28 May 2008 at 12:16 am:
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    Dolph said on 27 May 2008 at 3:35 pm:
    Ducks and Geese are even more vicious. They will chase a mailman or other pedestrian for a block or so.

    Maybe we can train them to chase ILLEGALS!!!

  19. anon in dale city said on 28 May 2008 at 1:43 am:
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    I was just thinking that a goat might make more sense that a loud lawnmower producing 2-40 times as much air pollution as a car and using gas and oil from who knows where. Maybe goats are just as bad thought, not sure.

    Anything loud early in the morning whether rooster or mower should be banned IMHO

    Maybe it makes sense that livestock are increasing in the urban areas of the county since the “rural crescent” is mostly 10 area estates without any livestock at all from what I’ve seen.

  20. MP Resident said on 28 May 2008 at 4:12 am:
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    “a loud lawnmower producing 2-40 times as much air pollution as a car and using gas and oil from who knows where”

    I have a Black and Decker electric lawnmower. I paid about $180 for it almost 8 years ago and I’m very happy with it. My yard isn’t large, I definitely wouldn’t recommend one for someone with a large yard, but it is nice not to have to deal with gummed up carbs, air filters, sparkplugs, water in the gas, etc.

  21. ateacher said on 28 May 2008 at 8:34 pm:
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    Here is my suggestion…(autor note, this is to be taken as semi-sarcastic) Each PWC household should adopt a nanny goat. Goats milk is not only a great cheese foundation, but goats milk is a good substitution for formula for women who cannot produce enough breastmilk. Think about how much we as homeowners could save on milk and eggs if we had a cow or several free range laying hens in our yard. Now I have a text dated in the year 1901 that specifies what process a “woman of the house” needs to go through in order to pasturize milk.

  22. Nanny or Billy said on 28 May 2008 at 10:59 pm:
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    I had read (in the Post I think) that it would cost PWC about $130 to mow an overgrown house lot. I live in FFX and my slightly over 1/2 acre lawn is mowed for $49 (by Americans who are bonded and insured, I might add). Why does it cost so much to mow a lawn in PWC? Maybe some goats are not such a bad idea. Btw, I grew up in a rural area where chickens were not allowed in residential neighborhoods, although, of course, one could have chickens on an actual farm (of which there were several). Up to three goats could be pets, but sheep could not. I have no idea why we had such a distinction. And for people who have trouble with cow milk, goat milk is actually a fine alternative (although I myself refuse to drink raw milk and like mine pasteurized).

  23. madmom said on 29 May 2008 at 8:16 am:
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    I grew up in Vienna. We bought 3 baby chicks from the local 5 and dime. One was blue, one was orange, one was pink. Mine was the orange one.

    All three turned out to be roosters. Mine actually was nice to ME ONLY (well, most the time). The other two were as mean as
    could be. I remember hearing my little sister screaming one day, and as I ran to the back yard to see what was going on, I see one of the roosters chasing her around almost the whole 3 acres of land we had.

    All I could yell was RUNNNNNNNNNNN and she finally made it to a fence, just in time.

    I move into my “new” home in Manassas 15 years ago. First morning - I am awakened by what - a rooster crowing! Two houses down! First thought - THAT HAS TO GO!!!! I don’t live in farm area anymore. I got sidewalks, paved roads, all that city stuff. Someone had already complained, I guess, cause he was gone the next day.

    LIve on a farm, raise your livestock. Live in the city, raise your cat or dog. I do NOT long for the sounds of a rooster crowing at 5 am.

    My sister and I laugh about that rooster (damn, he was MEAN!) and how we said goodbye to him as a farmer came to pick up all 3 one day. I think our words were…..ADIOS!

  24. Dolph said on 29 May 2008 at 10:24 pm:
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    Great story, Madmom. I used to love hearing the roosters in Manassas but in fairness, they weren’t close by. It was a distant sound. Makes a big difference.

    My husband raised goats growing up in Baltimore Co. as a boy. His family had a couple of acres full of honeysuckle. Goats do NOT belong in residential areas. They are definitely barnyard. I understand that Sunset Drive had a big problem with chickens 15-20 years ago. It almost became the chicken wars. –Only in Manassas!

  25. Liela said on 29 May 2008 at 10:31 pm:
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    My husband raised goats growing up in Baltimore Co. as a boy….

    He obviously enjoys the company of old goats!

  26. Fairfaxian said on 2 Jun 2008 at 9:58 am:
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    I’m surprised to see a conservative blog come out against the goats. I’d have figured you’d take a libertarian stance and harp on big government for setting unnecessarily restrictive rules.

    That’s how I see this, anyway.

  27. Justanoldhippie said on 4 Jun 2008 at 6:52 am:
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    Going Goats-Going Green-I agree, my friend purchased some small goats to help keep her 7 acre lot cleared. They did a nice job keeping the area trimmed short, she milked the nanny for fresh goat milk, and they were loving and playful with my 5 year old granddaughter. I wish I could have two in my unlevel back yard. The bleep a little if they need water or want some attention, but the dogs in the neighborhood are louder then they are. But since my backyard already has a fox, a raccoon, a ground hog, several deer, an occassional bald eagle feasting on the squirrels, I really do not see a couple of goats a major problem.

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