For the last week there have been goats at the foot of Pont Vieux (our 700 year old pedestrian bridge.) Two days ago I decided to take a closer look – I didn’t want them to go away before I had the opportunity to take some close-up photos. And I’m so glad I did!

Our new furry neighbors with Pont Vieux in the background.

They’ve been moved a little bit further up river, and while I was admiring them, I had a delightful conversation with Richard, one of the goatherds.

Richard, some of his goats and our River Aude in the background.

He’s part of an environmental group that for the past four years has been showing that it’s beneficial to have goats in cities, and that it’s a win-win-win situation.

The group has a contract with Carcassonne (and with two other towns close by).

  • The cities pay the group for the “grass mowing” that the goats are doing – so the group earns money from the city, and from selling goat cheese and milk.
  • The city is paying the group less than it would pay for professionals to mow the grass – so the city is saving money.
  • (From my perspective, it eliminates noise and gas pollution, creates great fertilizer, and there are so many more benefits!)
  • He says the goats are very happy here.
  • And starting in June, the group will have school children visit every school day in the month to learn about the goats, learn how to milk them, and in a sense, grow up with goats.

Richard’s not a goatherd by trade – he’s actually an educator who works with disadvantaged children who have been raised “in the fringes,” in tougher areas. He works with them to help them, among other things, understand that violence isn’t the best way to communicate. And he says that animals are the perfect teachers for this, so the goats are part of his program.

There are 60 goats in the heard, with 20 each in the three locations. At the end of June, goats and goatherds will all walk along the Canal du Midi for 10 to 12 days to Toulouse (an hour drive from Carcassonne) to have their last “showing” of the season.

He invited me to join them in June when the children are visiting, and also told me that people like me can walk along the canal with them as they head off to Toulouse. I plan to do both, and I can’t wait!

These two were literally butting heads just before I took this photo.
Richard working on one of the fences he put up Wednesday.
Happy goats!