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Photography by Stacey Greaves

When working together, Greaves says her eight goats can clear approximately one quarter of an acre—that includes brush, weeds, briars, the list goes on—in five to seven days. “They continuously want to eat,” she says. “From the time the sun comes up until the time the sun goes down, they will continue to eat.” Goats, like other ruminating herbivorous mammals including cows, sheep and deer, consume so much because they need to eat a lot of plants in order to get enough nutrients. And their stomachs—consisting of four compartments—make such mass consumption possible, constantly moving food through the digestive tract. It seems the only time the goats do not want to eat is when they’re sleeping—or in the event of stormy weather.

Greaves says she originally wanted to have goats as pets, but in order to keep them she knew they would have to be “self-sustainable,” so to speak. In the spring of 2014 she took her first step into the vegetation management business, buying her first four goats. “They’re like kids,” she says. “It’s constant care.” Each of the animals has its own personality, its own voice. “I can tell which one’s calling,” she says. Bambi is the wooly mammoth-like “alpha goat” of the herd, Greaves says, while Gus is curious and friendly. “I call him my sunshine. He’s always the first one to come see me.”

In the summer and fall of 2014, Greaves set about raising her four goats—and doing her research. “It took me a year to really figure things out and decide, ‘Is this something I really want to do’,” she recalls, “and the more I looked into it, the more I was like, ‘of course it is’. At this point in my life, I’ve raised my children, I can do what I want, and this is what I want to do.”