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Portsmouth’s landfill-landscaping program ends with 16 goats and sheep likely dead – Virginian


Sixteen goats and sheep are likely dead less than three years after Portsmouth bought them to trim the grass at the Craney Island landfill.

The landscaping plan failed, its organizers are gone, and now administrators can’t account for most of the animals.

“We just haven’t been able to locate them,” said Erin Trimyer, the city’s director of public utilities. “I can’t tell you specifically if it was a coyote or what other wildlife is out there, but it is our assumption that the rest of the animals have passed away.”

At a work session last month, City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton suggested to council members that they had been killed by coyotes and “other wildlife.”

Only two nanny goats live there now, roaming free as the hardy vestiges of an expensive landscaping flop. Landfill supervisor Chris Bower, who inherited the animals from his predecessor, now watches over them by making sure they have the basics: fresh water, a healthy diet and shelter from the elements.

“The one on the left with the darker face, I call her Thelma. The other one’s Louise,” Bower said as the goats galloped toward his truck Thursday morning. “They live a pretty good life.”


The two remaining goats at Craney Island landfill graze on the east end of the Craney Island landfill on Aug 10, 2017, in Portsmouth. The city is ending the experimental program of using goats and sheep, to keep vegetation in check at the site.

Landfill supervisors wanted to use livestock to save money on a specialty lawnmower and staff time to trim down the roughly 120-acre field, whose hilly terrain makes it tricky to navigate. They bought 10 goats and 10 sheep to tame the vegetation, spending about $10,000 over the course of two years.

Since then, two goats have died from parasites, two were sent to live on a farm in Chesapeake, and one was fatally attacked by what is assumed to be a coyote. Two newborn goats were also crushed to death by their mother in late 2013, halting the city’s plan to breed the animals. The rest have disappeared from the landfill, effectively ending the project.

Officials have since bought a $135,000 specialty mower to tackle the job instead. Trimyer said the city stopped spending money on the goatscaping program at the end of the 2015 fiscal year.

It’s unclear what will happen to the remaining livestock. Officials are “currently exploring our options pertaining to the goats,” Trimyer wrote in an email.


Two female goats, called Thelma and Louise by landfill supervisor Chris Bower, hang out on a hill on the east end of the Craney Island landfill in Portsmouth on Aug 10, 2017. The city has decided to scrap their experimental program using goats to trim the grass at the landfill.

The city’s then-General Services Department Director Dennis Bagley and then-City Manager John Rowe recommended the plan in June 2013 to the City Council, which gave staff the green light to buy the goats. Bagley was eventually forced out of his job, and the division’s duties were folded into other departments.

Rowe, who was fired by previous council members in 2015 and then elected mayor last year, stressed that the project was an experiment and that everyone on board – including the council – knew it might not work. The city, he said, was fine with having long grass at the site, but the state Department of Environmental Quality, which regulates landfills, had been pressing officials to trim it.

“By the end of the first year of the experiment in 2014, we realized that using goats to cut the grass was not working,” Rowe said. The city kept the animals because it couldn’t find anywhere else to put them. Rowe said he reported to council that the plan was a “good try,” but it failed. After he left the city in 2015, he said, he doesn’t know what it decided to do about the animals, and the topic hadn’t come up since he took office.

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Attempts to reach Bagley and former landfill Superintendent Henry Strickland were unsuccessful.

Project leaders eventually learned they would have needed a much larger herd – well over 1,000 animals – to cover the space.

That’s why goatscaping specialists rent out herds, often to government groups and homeowner associations. There are lots of variables to consider, including the type of unwanted vegetation that goats are expected to eat, said Mary Bowen, the owner of Maryland-based Browsing Green Goats.

“When I started this business, it was hard for people to understand why I would charge what I was charging,” Bowen said. “Many people say, ‘Oh, I’ll just get my own goats and do it myself.’ And they don’t want to look at what it takes to actually bring goats to a job.”


A pod container provides shelter for the two remaining goats at the Craney Island landfill in Portsmouth, photographed on Aug 10, 2017. At one point the city had 10 goats and 10 sheep working to keep the vegetation down, but has now decided to end the program.

Neither Norfolk nor Virginia Beach have used animals for landscaping in at least the past decade. Julie Braley, a spokeswoman for the Beach Parks and Recreation Department said the city explored the concept about 10 years ago but decided not to do it.

Jace Goodling, a local goatscaper who gave Portsmouth officials a job quote that they considered too costly, said people often underestimate how much attention the animals need.

“Goats are not like lawn mowers you can turn on and then turn back off,” Goodling said. “They’re not machines.”

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I stopped eating sugar and processed foods — and lost 10 pounds in 6 weeks

sleepy girlThis was me. Falling asleep on white processed carbs. How did they find this picture of me? *Note: This is not really me.tma/flickr

We can all probably relate to feeling tired at work, sluggish in the morning, and lazy on the weekend, at some point in our lives, right? Well, I was feeling that way almost every day.

While I was a normal size, I knew I was starting to gain some weight from my lazy behavior and terrible, truly awful diet.

I, my friends, was your classic “unhealthy vegan.”

Registered dietitian Whitney Stuart of Whitness Nutrition told me this isn’t that unusual. She has vegan clients come in and act surprised when she says they don’t eat enough vegetables.

“But I’m vegan!” they tell her. Well, you still have to eat vegetables, and whole grains, and fruits, if you want to benefit from your vegan diet.

I was not. And it was showing. My terrible diet coupled with my desk job left me bloated. I had time for exercise over my breaks or on the weekends, but wasn’t actually doing it. I knew that a first step to changing my energy levels would be my diet, so I decided to switch to a whole-food, plant-based diet, which has been touted as one of the healthiest out there.

A whole-food, plant-based diet doesn’t mean vegan, Stuart told me. It just means you should think about plants first in every meal, and make them at least half of your plate. Meat, dairy, eggs, and fish should be secondary to plants. I was content to sticking with my veganism, I just had to fine-tune it to actually benefit from it.

I never meant to lose weight, but I found I went from my post-college weight back down to my college weight (a weight I had been at most of my adult life, and considered comfortable for me.) At the end of six weeks, I’d dropped 10 pounds, and I have no intentions of going back to my old, processed and sugar filled diet.

Here’s the emotional roller coaster I took cutting out sugar and processed foods:

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New Insight into Losing Weight

What if a simple blood test could help you determine the best strategy for weight loss, before you even started? Additional analysis of a study conducted by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts suggests that a person’s fasting glucose levels, also called blood sugar levels, may be useful in figuring out the best type of diet for weight loss. The study focused on a weight-loss program based on the “iDiet,” which emphasizes a high-fiber, low-glycemic diet and includes behavioral support.

Tufts researchers, in collaboration with scientists from Gelesis, a biotechnology company, found that at the end of the six-month program, overweight and obese people with high fasting blood sugar levels lost more weight (an average of 9.4 percent of body weight) than those with low fasting blood sugar levels (4.1 percent body weight).

Senior author Sai Krupa Das, a scientist in the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the HNRCA, explained that  high fasting blood sugar levels are a sign of poor glucose control, making people susceptible to blood glucose spikes when they eat, leading to hunger and overeating. A low-glycemic diet is designed to minimize those spikes. “Fasting blood sugar is easily measured, and our findings suggest that it could serve as a useful measure in advising some patients on the type of diet that is most beneficial for their weight loss,” Das said.

Most guidelines for weight control recommend that people with obesity lose 5-10 percent of their body weight to improve health. After six months, a greater proportion of subjects with high fasting blood sugar lost this recommended amount of weight, compared to those with low fasting blood sugar.

Almost 80 percent of subjects with high fasting blood sugar levels lost 5 percent of their body weight, compared to only 50 percent of subjects with low fasting blood sugar levels. In addition, 36 percent in the high group, vs. 8 percent in the low group, lost 10 percent of their body weight.

“The difference in response among those with high fasting blood sugar and lower fasting blood sugar is important. It might be time to consider glycemic status when advising patients on the best strategy for weight loss,” said study author Susan B. Roberts, senior scientist and director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the HNRCA.

The analysis was published as a poster (with first author Lorien Urban, F09) at the American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions, so the data and conclusions should be considered preliminary until they have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Healthy diet could decrease gestational diabetes risk for South …

Sonia Anand, leader of the South Asian Birth Cohort (START) study. Credit: McMaster University

South Asian women in Ontario are at high risk for gestational diabetes, but a change in diet and pre-pregnancy weight could make a significant difference, according to a new study from McMaster University.

The research study, called the South Asian Birth Cohort (START), is led by Sonia Anand, professor of medicine at McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and senior scientist at the Population Health Research Institute of Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University.

The study revealed up to one-third of pregnant South Asian in Ontario develop . As well, pre-pregnancy weight and low-quality diet accounted for 37 per cent of the risk of gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is an issue as it may cause type 2 diabetes in the mother and baby, and newborns have increased birthweight, higher body fat and lower insulin sensitivity.

The study results were published on August 10 in CMAJ Open.

“Our study suggests that if South Asian women could achieve an optimal pre-pregnancy weight and improve their diet quality, approximately one-third of gestational diabetes in this demographic could be prevented,” said Anand, who is also a cardiologist and director of the Chanchlani Research Centre at McMaster.

Research was based on data from the START Birth Cohort study, which includes more than 1,000 women in their second trimester of pregnancy from Ontario’s Region of Peel.

The START Study collected health information, physical measurements and a glucose tolerance test from the women. Birth weight, skinfold thickness and cord blood glucose and insulin were obtained from the newborns.

Major determinants for gestational diabetes among this group of women included both factors such as age, family history of type 2 diabetes and maternal height, as well as modifiable factors like pre-pregnancy weight and low-diet quality.

A low-quality diet was characterized by higher consumption of meat (red, chicken and processed), rice and fried foods, and was lower in raw or cooked vegetables. A high-quality diet was associated with higher consumption of vegetables, legumes and whole grain breads.

Anand says the study highlights the importance of public health messaging to South Asian women who are considering pregnancy.

“To our knowledge, such messaging regarding pre-pregnancy weight and quality is not routinely provided by primary care physicians or public health specialists, and requires an integrated approach involving primary health-care sector and policy initiatives,” she said.

“Intervention studies are needed to determine if lowering pre-pregnancy and optimizing during pregnancy can reduce the high rates of gestational in this high-risk population.”

Explore further:
Weight gain between pregnancies linked to increased risk of gestational diabetes

7 Things You Need To Know If You’re Counting Calories To Lose Weight​

The total number of calories a person needs every day varies depending on a bunch of things, including your age, height, weight, and how active you are. (Obviously, if you’re a half-marathoner, you’re going to need more calories than if you rarely hit the gym.) Estimates range from 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women, per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is a pretty big range. If you’re not sure where you stand, it doesn’t hurt to check in with a registered dietitian for a consultation—he or she should be able to give you a good goal calorie count to start with. Or, if you don’t have the time or budget for that, Cording recommends looking up an energy estimate calculator online and getting a general idea from that. Just be a little flexible with yourself. “Some people get a calorie number in their head but it might not be the right fit for them—they’re so hungry they can’t stick to it,” Cording says.

Related: ‘These Small Changes Helped Me Lose Half My Body Weight In 2 Years’

Diet drinks and food actually trigger weight gain and diabetes, says new study

For the new study, scientists scanned the brains of 15 people when they were drinking diet drinks, and compared them to regular beverages. They also monitored how much energy was burned by the body.  

They found when there was a ‘mismatch’ between sweetness and calories – as is often the case with diet drinks or foods because they are not as sugary – the calories fail to trigger the body’s metabolism. Reward circuits in the brain also did not register that calories had been consumed, which could lead to eating more.

Commenting on the paper, Dominic Dwyer, Professor of Psychology at Cardiff University, said: “What the paper does imply, correctly in my view, is that mismatches between calories and sweetness interfere with metabolism of calories in a way that could have negative impact on weight gain, diabetes, heart disease etc. but that determining the link between the unprocessed calories and metabolic health needs future work.

“The most important implication is namely the fate of calories consumed in the mismatch conditions.

“These are not efficiently metabolised at the time of ingestion and thus processed later and/or stored either of which could drive weight gain and interfere with metabolism.”

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, added: “This research should be enough to convince you that artificial ingredients, whether they be in food or drink, can screw up your system even though they may sound healthy. 

“They may be free of calories but not of consequences and diabetes is only one of them. “

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