By Midge Pierce
The beloved Belmont Goats need to find a new batch of clover.
The herd’s current lease at SE Harold and 92nd expires in June as plans shape up for more dramatic new development in the once sleepy Lents neighborhood.
This will be the third move in as many years for the goats who became a transitory symbol of urban change at their earlier chomping grounds between SE 10th and 11th at Belmont and Taylor.
On a recent Saturday, two of the three owners, former neighbors of the goats when they were ensconced off Belmont St., remained sanguine about the move.
“Something will work out. It always does. People love the Belmont Goats,” said Bix Frankonis indicating several options are being considered.
The goats are largely dependent on the kindness of strangers, he added. “Small donations from lots of people pay for their food, maintenance, equipment,” and soon, another relocation.
The herd’s previous moves to a Lents fire station and then to Harold St. evolved through crowdfunding. The ideal new site will be more than a half and less than a whole acre of foot-high clover, according to Jay Jimenez. Relocation will likely be paid for through t-shirt sales and a kickstarter campaign.
The original herd, hired to remove brush on the so-called Belmont Goat Block, quickly evolved into a social experiment about how city dwellers interact with goats in an urban, semi-industrial environment. One fan termed them, “the nexus of an unexpected and spontaneous community.”
The herd is now 14 goats strong plus Juniper the hen who arrived uninvited. Unlike the first group of goats that were for hire, the current munchers are strictly goats of leisure. With the upcoming move, they’ll leave behind the laughter of a playground full of kids at the adjacent Wattler Boys & Girls Club.
Adults must accompany children visiting the goats. Goats romp, climb and can be playful. They also chew and sometimes turn cranky. Goats of leisure have uniquely independent spirits but, according to Frankomis, basically remain good-natured. (Their personalities are described in depth on the goats web page.)
When asked which goat is his favorite, Frankomis says it varies, depending on their mood – and his. Master Goat Chester can be pouty and stand-offish, which suits his owner fine when he feels the same way. Clover, his sometimes sidekick, is always calm and well-behaved. “They are all sweethearts,” claim the owners.
Until a firm plan is in place, the owners hope they can lease the Harold St. land on a month-to-month basis. They are keeping close tabs with the City on construction schedules.
For more information about the Goats and their visiting hours go to thebelmontgoats.org.