Galloping Goats Pumpkin Patch finds new purpose for its herd

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RIO RANCHO, N.M. – Before the pandemic, the Galloping Goats Pumpkin Patch in Rio Rancho was a popular spot for field trips and for families to rent goats out for birthday parties. However, when in-person events were cancelled, owner Max Wade had to get creative.

The patch partnered with the Sandia Pueblo and the State Forestry to help the environment. Wade’s 130 goats now enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet that helps with fire prevention and serves as an alternative to heavy machinery, pollutants, chemicals or even actual people.

"It’s just good, the happy goats that are out here," Wade said. "They’re just kind of enjoying life."

"This is one of the tools we have in the toolbox to get some of the work done and remove invasive plants and increase the health of the watershed," Todd Haines, the District Forester for NM State Forestry, said.

Siberian elm is the main invasive plant they target. The elm grows very quickly, gets very dense and prevents native plants from growing, which impacts the area’s wildlife.

Natural conditions prevented plants like the Siberian elm in the past but changing conditions do not guarantee that prevention anymore.

"As climate change warms the planet up, we don’t have as much overbank flooding from the river as we used to," Sandia Pueblo Bosque Project Manager Michael Scialdone said. "So we don’t have the natural tools that clear things out and manage the fuels."

"For centuries for the ages, migratory herds have come through and done just what the goats are doing," Wade explained. "They’ll come through and they’ll mow an area down and they’ll move on and the environment’s able to recover. And as the goats go through and eat things they’re just fertilizing the ground behind them. "

As the goats move along, they are continuously helping the community in different ways.

"It’s very efficient because the goats do things that our other contact crews like fire departments and other contractors can’t necessarily do where it’s not cost effective," Haines said.

"The goats are happy. They’ve got food," Wade expressed. "At the same time, we’re really accomplishing a lot for the state, for here, for the Sandia Pueblo and for the environment."

Galloping Goats also has a program where people can rent goats to help with backyard weed control. The goats can be rented out via social media or email,