Greenway goats give council a matter to chew over

"BB" and her brood of goats, including Betsie, Barbie and Belle, plan to chomp their way through more blackberry bushes on the Bear Creek Greenway.

"I'm very passionate about my goats," said Ern Russell, whose company, Hungry Goats 4 Hire, has been called into action to attack blackberry bushes in the Medford area.

Russell will be back before the City Council at noon Oct. 3 to discuss an ordinance that will allow 33 goats to clear out the brush near Cascade Christian High School on the Greenway.

Students have been clearing out some areas near the school, but there's one embankment that has proved too difficult.

"Where the goats are going to be is too steep and there are too many trees," Russell said.

His goats have helped clear out areas near the Jefferson Nature Center at U.S. Cellular Community Park and at Veranda Park, a retirement community off East McAndrews Road.

Russell said he hopes the city creates some kind of method that would make it easier for him to bring the goats in rather than being forced to seek approval from the City Council each time.

"It's silly for the council to spend so much time on this," he said.

Bringing goats or any livestock into the city is forbidden under law, requiring an exception from the council.

Russell said his goats were working hard at Veranda Park this summer. He said he was approached by a nearby resident who also wanted blackberry bushes gobbled up.

Russell said the city told him he would need to receive another exception from the council to move his goats to a new location.

Goats provide their own advertising for Russell, who spends part of his time explaining how he manages his herd as well as his two dogs.

"I'm always willing to have people come up and scratch between their horns," he said.

Russell said he used to name all his goats but his herd has gotten so large that some of them just have number tags.

"BB" is one of his first goats. Her full name is Bottle Baby. Every time that she has a baby or one of her daughters has a baby, it gets a name beginning with the letter "B."

"BB's daughter Betsy had a big boy — he was so magnificent — and we named him Brutus," Russell said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or

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