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What We Can Learn From A Herd Of Hungry Goats

Now that's a gaggle of goats!

There are about 700 of them in the video. They belong to the California business , which keeps 8,000 goats on hand, renting them out to graze on brush, thistles and other undesired plants.

This particular herd was on the job in the hills of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Their weed chomping is especially important this year: The vegetation they're eating could be fodder for fire in the drought-struck state.

It doesn't take too much effort to get goats to head to the next patch of plants, says Terri Oyarzun, co-owner of Goats R Us.

"Have you heard the saying, 'The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?' Goats were the inspiration for that philosophy," she says.

But the goatherd — and his faithful border collie companions — still has some work to do. There's always a goat or two that would like to take a detour. Just as a kindergarten teacher knows which kids need a little extra attention, so the goatherd will make sure the dogs can target the "delinquent goats" to keep them from straying, Oyarzun says.

The goats get the job done. "They are fast and direct," she says, "rather like we would want our computers to be."

There's a long tradition of stories about animals that teach lessons to us humans. So what can we learn from these goats?

"[They have a] good attitude and work ethic," Oyarzun says. "They love their job and do it well."

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Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.