Article Title

Of Goats and Men


In the small, coastal town of Monterey, California, a tidy residential community called Deer Flats perches on one of the nearby hills. From up there, on a clear day, of which there are many, one may, if one chooses, watch the bay and the boats that sail upon its waters, and catch the failing rays of sunlight at dusk. The houses are well kept, the people industrious, and for the most part civil, if not particularly cordial. They enjoy walking their dogs and tending their front yards. Lately, however, because of the drought, the lawns have browned and withered.

The “flats” is a misnomer. Not unlike the fictional Tortilla Flat, the neighborhood is actually quite hilly. The community is surrounded by a greenbelt containing a stand of Monterey pines, a tree peculiar to the region and vigilantly safeguarded by the city arborist. But over the years a dense carpet of desiccated vegetation beneath the stately trees became a concern because of the threat of fire. The members of the homeowners’ association, in their august wisdom, devised a plan to mitigate this danger and, at the same time, demonstrate their ecological awareness.

They hired goats.

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Of Goats and Men was originally published at Booth.