Conrad Lindblom spends his days chasing his grandchildren and mostly relaxing in Beaverlodge, Alta., a small community near the B.C. border.
Today, he’s retired, but many people in B.C. know him as ‘the goat guy.’
"We were very busy and we never advertised... it’s not easy to get a hold of me,” he chuckles.
Lindblom and his wife Donna spent two decades travelling across British Columbia with their herd of 400 goats, running Rocky Ridge Vegetation Control. They toured around in a motor home and would work for weeks doing "target grazing," a tactic used to manage invasive plants and help with fire mitigation.
If you ask him if he misses his career, he’s quick to answer.
"Oh yes, definitely, but I am retired now and spending time with my grandchildren and doing things at home,” says Lindblom.
The idea started when he and his wife were horseback riding through a mountain range and came across a cut block that had been sprayed with a herbicide.
"We thought there must be a better way of doing this. We did have a few goats. Rather than using sprays, we could talk them into using goats to control the brush and then they’d be able to grow their pine and spruce without using chemical sprays,” he tells Glacier Media.
Later that evening, over a bottle of gin, the couple came up with a plan.
"The goats would clear out the brush and allow the pine and spruce to grow a good foot or two and then there wouldn’t be a problem,” Lindblom says. "The method we were doing was re-establishing a forest."
They were hired by logging companies, communities and cities to have their goats bite out invasive plants.
“We got a job to experiment and try it in Kamloops and we went down there for a 10-day trial period and we ended up staying there for about seven years doing work in parks there and in and other communities... like Logan Lake, and it worked very well,” he says.
"We were able to prove we could control invasive weeds with goats and they even did a better job than the herbicides did and it was a lot healthier and environmentally friendly."
By cleaning out the brush, they also prevented wildfires from spreading.
“Since we were out working and people saw what we were doing, they came to us and asked us to do work for them. We were very busy and we only had one herd of goats,” Lindblom adds.
Goats are easy to train and work with, according to the retiree.
“It’s just like training a dog. We had the herd of goats and we had goat herders on horseback and dogs and we moved the goats around and targeted areas and also specific plants and our goats were pretty well-trained,” he says. "We could get them to eat specific plants."
Goat vegetation control is an industry he wants to see continue.
"It’s a whole industry we’d like to see expand more in Canada.”
Lindblom describes the work as a dream job and something they made a living doing.
"As long as they like to camp out, ride horseback and be outside and work with animals, it was a dream job,” he says. “We got to meet a lot of people, environmentalists and people like that and scientists that came and looked at what we were doing.”
While he may be retired and difficult to track down, he still gives advice and guidance to anyone who wants to get started in the industry.