Goat

If you were an early riser in Ojai on July Fourth, maybe you glimpsed the Ventura Brush Goats’ herd of 100 herbivores trot quickly through the golden, backlit Ojai Meadows Preserve, then along an empty Highway 33, past the topiary OJAI sign by Vons, wait calmly for the green traffic light, then continue down the Ojai Valley Bike Trail.

On this crisp, clear morning, Ojai Valley resident Michael Leicht, founder of Ventura Brush Goats, calmly loped along at a steady pace in the lead with a handful of scrub branches, while his three full-time goatherds/shepherds and three herding dogs heckled and nipped at the herd to stay in line. Only once did a mother goat and her two kids make a run for it to the north side of Highway 33, to the not unwelcome surprise of a couple walking on the sidewalk, only to be guided back into the group by the clever tuxedo border collie, Banjo.