When brush and debris become a fire hazard, the Seegmillers bring goats to the rescue

PINE VALLEY — Rep. Travis Seegmiller, R-Washington, put in a good day’s work Tuesday. But he wasn’t drafting bills. He was chasing after 16 of his family’s prize-winning Nigerian Dwarf goats.

L-R: Anna, Travis and Ellie Seegmiller tend their goats in Pine Valley, Utah, July 20, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

Seegmiller and his two daughters – 12-year-old Ellie Felice and 9-year-old Anna Nesha offer the goat services to home owners whose brush could become a problem should a wildfire break out in Pine Valley.

“I got the idea when my fire insurance company threatened to terminate my policy,” Seegmiller told St. George News. “They said that because the brush, pine needles and acorns were so close to my home, they couldn’t insure us. It was a fire hazard.”

Seegmiller said that wasn’t necessarily a problem for him: His goats have a voracious appetite, and they love to eat all the things that worried the insurance company. The goats made short work of Seegmiller’s overgrowth.

But Seegmiller wondered about others, such as the elderly and those who couldn’t afford to have the overgrowth removed. Because Utah, and much of the western U.S. is in the midst of an historic drought, the service may be more necessary than ever.

Ellie Seegmiller leads her family’s goats toward the trailer by shaking a jug filled with treats, Pine Valley, Utah, July 20, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

“One of our neighbors was quoted $12,000 to fix their situation,” he said. “How many working people can afford that?”

Seegmiller said that there are many homes in Pine Valley that are occupied for a limited time each year. While their owners are away, nature takes over. The neglect affects nearby property values. Seegmiller decided to put his goats to work for others.

Though it’s a charitable endeavor, Ellie Seegmiller says they accept donations that go toward ensuring that the goats remain healthy.

“They can pick up some nasty stuff while eating things off the ground,” she said. “They need vaccinations and boosters for clostridium perfringens, and tetanus toxoid.”

As those who care for goats know, each goat has its own unique personality. While one likes to stand on her hind legs to eat food that’s up high, another pokes around the ground looking for thistles. They also have their own feelings about travel.

Tuesday morning, for instance, the Seegmillers went to a home located in the Pine Valley foothills to pick up their goats and transfer them to the next location. Though the goats were thrilled to see their family, some didn’t like the idea of being stuffed into the cages on Seegmiller’s makeshift trailer.

Two of the Seegmillers’ goats eluding capture, Pine Valley, Utah, July 20, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

Some of the older goats were cooperative. But the kids grouped up, then eluded the Seegmillers for an hour or more.

“I knew we should have brought the dog,” Travis Seegmiller said.

Anna Seegmiller agreed. Then she crept up behind one of the kids and snatched him by the tail.

“Now if we could only do that for the rest,” Ellie Seegmiller said.

Eventually, they caught all but two goats. Having surrendered, Travis Seegmiller left them behind, with the promise to bring their Old English bulldog to help herd the remaining goats later on.

While driving down a dirt road, with 14 goats on the trailer, Travis Seegmiller stressed the importance to his daughters of approaching problems from various angles and having backup plans.

“This is a service project,” he said. “It’s about making the community safer and more affordable for everyone. It’s also about getting my daughters farm time instead of screen time. It’s important to instill the values of working with animals, and working together to solve real-world problems.”

Interested in this service? Contact Travis Seegmiller at 435-313-6645 or [email protected].

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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