On its blog this month, Google announced it had brought 200 contract employees to its Mountain View, California headquarters to help with lawn maintenance -- not people, but goats. "Instead of using noisy mowers that run on gasoline and pollute the air, we've rented some goats....to do the job for us (we're not 'kidding')," wrote Dan Hoffman, Google's director of real estate and workplace services. Google hired California Grazing to provide the goats, which were herded by a border collie named Jen. Yahoo, down the road, also rented goats for its lawns.

Interesting how Silicon Valley companies looking for eco-friendly innovations came up with a totally non-tech method, but they picked a perfect one. Rent-A-Goat is a great way to clear weeds, grass and brush, especially in the fire-prone West, and fertilize at the same time. Goat-mowing is also chemical-free and less labor-intensive, so Billy can help tired-out lawn-maintenance workers with acres to tend (my friend tells me Reno hires goats to mow the infield grass in its new baseball park).

Even if you have a far smaller yard, it's getting easier to rent just one goat, as more farms, like Hidden Springs Farms in Springfield, Tennessee, offer rental programs. GoatFinder.com has a Goat Rental directory for 13 states, but it's as easy as finding a farm in your area and asking them whether they have goats to rent or know ones that do. And it's not expensive. As Google's Hoffman blogged, "It costs us about the same as mowing, and goats are a lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers."

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