There used to be sheep in Central Park and cows roaming underneath Manhattan, but this kind of bucolic livestock is largely missing from contemporary NYC. Soon, however, Prospect Park (where there were also sheep in the early 1900s) will introduce goats to their landscape.
The eight goats will be coming in temporarily "to assist with woodland restoration after damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and other recent storms," according to the Prospect Park Alliance. This is costing about $15,000, and funding is coming from the National Parks Service, administered through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. They will stay in a protected, fenced-in area throughout their time in the Park.
The Alliance explains that the storms "damaged over 500 trees in the Park, leaving the woodlands vulnerable to invasive plants and weeds." These include English ivy, goutweed and poison ivy, according to the NY Times, the latter of which they love. Farmer Larry Cihanek told them, "They will eat their favorite foods first, and one of their top foods is poison ivy. They love it.” Mmmm poison ivy pizza.
Once the goats—who arrive on May 16th—do their job, the Alliance says they will "enhance the woodlands with new native plants and trees." And while the goats are on the clock, they're planning some "goats-centric fun," which you can check out below:
An Evening on the Farm: Goats, Wine and Cheese
Thursday, May 19, 6-8 pm
Lefferts Historic House, $25 per person, cash only
Advance reservations are required
Join the Prospect Park Alliance at the Lefferts Historic House for a discussion with Larry and Ann Cihanek, the owners and shepherds of Green Goats, and Alliance Chief Landscape Architect Christian Zimmerman. Enjoy wine and goat cheese generously provided by Castello di Borghese and Stinky BKLYN and learn about the ecological role that goats will be playing in the Alliance’s restoration of Prospect Park’s woodlands, followed by a chance to meet a kid goat. This event is open to adults 21 and over. Advance reservations are required.
Fun on the Farm
Sunday, May 22, 1-4 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free, RSVP
Celebrate the arrival of goats to the Park as part of the Prospect Park Alliance’s woodland restoration! Learn how to make yarn using wool and make goat’s milk ice cream. Enjoy special tours to visit the goats, and join us on a parade to the Prospect Park Zoo to see sheep-shearing demonstrations and collect fleece to bring back to Lefferts and make felt balls.
And a few more:
- Wool Carding and Drop Spindle, 1- 4 pm: Learn how to card wool using special tools and how to spin with a drop spindle.
- Spinning Demonstrations, 1-4 pm: Come and meet our resident spinner Catherine Conrad and see how she spins wool fibers into thread.
- Bleat and Greet Goat Tour, every 30 min: Take a short walk and meet the Park’s resident goats and talk with Larry and Ann Cihanek of Green Goats about the valuable work of the goats in the Park.
- Parade to Zoo, 1:30 pm, Sunday only: Join Lefferts staff on a parade to the Zoo to see their sheep shearing demonstration.
- Goat Milk Ice Cream Making, 1 + 3 pm, Sunday only: Help make delicious ice cream with a hand cranked ice cream maker.
- Felt Balls, 2-4 pm: After the wool is washed and carded, you can try your hand at making a felt ball. Use the wood fibers to shape a ball and see if you can make it bounce!
- Wool Washing, 2-4 pm: After the fleece is shorn from the sheep, the next step is washing it! Help staff clean the fleece and get it ready for felt balls and spinning!