Shoreline vegetation crew - Woody, the alpaca

Saturday, May 19, 2012


By Brad Lancaster

Woody the alpaca has moved in next door to our home. We northernmost Shoreline Lancasters live next to a storm water retention pond. This time of year, the pond grounds are fervent with dandelions, new growth brambles, and hip-high grasses.  

Once or twice a year, a city employee comes to tamp back the exuberance so that the fenced pond does not become a jungle in our midst. Occasionally, we scale the fence to pick up garbage or do some whacking ourselves.  

In 2012, Woody the alpaca has shown us weed control done by a professional. Woody has pared back all the grasses and weeds. The camelid does not prefer woody materials, but pulls the leaves from the brambles, leading to their retreat and demise.  

This llama is working a different location in Shoreline
Photo by Wayne Pridemore

I hear Woody has companions, goats and sheep, at other ponds who eat the tougher stems.  These friends will soon arrive to finish Woody’s job. Woody’s patient munching has left the pond grounds clad in a short green carpet, one that brings to mind lush groomed expanses of pastoral Swiss meadows.  

I do not know what the City of Shoreline is paying for this Andean pack animal experiment, but it is a bargain. We Lancasters much prefer Woody’s humming and little piles of highly-digested llama poo to the cantankerous hornet’s nest of mixed gas-oil engines and sometimes-neglected overgrowth.

Do not think that Woody is just a happy replacement for weed-eaters. Woody is a phenom.  Parents bring their children by the scores. Teens stop their incessant social jockeying to say hello to the rented alpaca. I even saw one adolescent put down his smart phone (for only a moment).  

Walkers eat their granola bars in Woody’s company. All the dogs want a sniff of him. Woody gives us something to talk about with strangers. He boosts us Shoreliners over the “who-are-you-and-why-are-you-talking-to-me” hurdle. Woody is no dull cud-chewer. When people come to visit, Woody often stops browsing and comes to greet them. He has made himself a neighbor, a welcome one.

Woody and Sofie have formed a bond
Photo by Brad/Kim Lancaster

Woody may be a bit lonely. The alpaca and our little dog, Sofie, have built a bond.  I read that alpacas are herd animals. I am told that Woody has a bit of an attitude with other animals, due to testosterone overload. Perhaps Woody should run for Congress. Woody beds down just outside our television room’s window, where he rolls in the dust and watches the sound and fury of Shoreline hurtle past. When bored, Woody watches television with us through the window, as the sun goes down and it grows difficult to see the grass. We think Woody prefers Downton Abbey, from among our NetFlix DVDs. We could be wrong. 

To the persons who conceived and authorized this experiment in drubbing Shoreline’s weeds, congratulations. Genius. Pure genius. Thanks for making life a little bit better in Shoreline.


5 comments:

Wendy DiPeso,  May 20, 2012 at 12:34 PM  

The City of Shoreline contracted with Earth Craft Services http://www.earthcraftservices.com/
Earth Craft Services is a landscape company that partners with a local farmer for use of the goats, sheep and Alpacas. This is part of the City of Shoreline's efforts at increasing sustainability under their "Sustainability Strategy" first conceived under past city councils.

Anonymous,  May 20, 2012 at 8:29 PM  

We LOVE what Shoreline has done with using goats, sheep and alpacas for vegetation management. Thanks for this post. We too feel this makes living in Shoreline that much better!

Anonymous,  May 20, 2012 at 9:25 PM  

I love the idea....

Funny though, how the poster at 12:34 PM had to make sure we all knew this idea was conceived by PAST city councils... worried about the job? Or, worried about the credit.. LOL~

Joanna,  June 16, 2012 at 8:56 AM  

My mom loves to come and visit Woody. But, she said he hasn't been there her last two visits. She is wondering where he is. Also, I love the sheep near 165th and 15th NE. They are adorable and friendly. I wish they could all stay forever.

Kathleen,  June 16, 2012 at 8:58 AM  

Thank you, Brad, for planting the lovely plants and the planter by Woody's space.

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