Meet the Kudzu Goat Gang of Wells Farm in Horse Shoe, NC. These goats are highly sought after around the Southeast for clearing out hard to reach infestations of the strangling Kudzu weed. See how these goats work in a sustainable, efficient, and most delightful way.
Cheryl Searcy, Wells Farm Owner
…As much as you don’t want to, you try to keep [emotion] separate because this is a business, but it’s hard because they all have a cute personality. And then every once in a while, you get one that’s really stubborn, and that’s ok too because we all have that streak in us.
When Ron Searcy told his wife Cheryl that they were going into the goat business in 1998, she responded, “You are nuts.” Fast forward to present day, and they now have 300 goats roaming their farm in Horse Shoe, North Carolina.
The Searcys’ farm, Wells Farm, is all about working to provide environmentally safe methods for clearing areas of invasive vegetation, namely, Kudzu. Their main method happens to be goats.
“I mean they have it made, they get to eat. . . They do, they love to eat,” said Cheryl.
Controlling the Kudzu
The federal government estimated that there are roughly 7.5 million acres of land in the United States that are unusable due to Kudzu. Kudzu is an Eastern Asian climbing plant, used for erosion control. However, it has rapidly become a threat to the Southeastern United States.
That’s where the Searcys and their gang of goats come in.
“We specialize in taking them to areas that are difficult for machinery and manpower, places that are steep and hazardous,” said Ron of their Au natural weed hackers.
“When you go in a Kudzu area and they just annihilate it, it goes from head high down to the ground and everybody is just wowed,” he said. “They can’t believe it.”
A Family Farming Affair
The farm was purchased by Cheryl’s grandparents in 1938 and has been in her family’s care ever since. The couple has done a little bit of everything on the farm, all leading up to their true passion for goat farming.
“We had moved back to the farm and it was overgrown and out of hand. And someone said, ‘You need to get a gang of goats, you wouldn’t believe what they can do.’ That’s kind of how we got started,” Ron said.
“We started with a few, then a few more, and then we bought a Billy [goat] and the next thing you know our son’s saying, ‘Dad’s hobby has gone wild.'”
The Practice of Preservation
The target area for the goats is Crowder’s Mountain State Park, located in King’s Mountain.
“We’d like to get control of [the Kudzu] before it gets out of hand and spreads to the rest of the forest; it will completely consume areas. If you stop long enough I believe it will grow up your pants leg,” said Ron.
When asked how he feels about people’s reactions, Ron said, “It makes me feel good. It really gives me a lot of pride when somebody says that they’ve never seen anything like it before.”
This couple is putting North Carolina first by preserving the places that make it home.
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