On The Landscaping Talents of Cleveland's Sheep

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A tip of the hat to Michael McIntyre and his Tipoff column for the phrase "mandibular mowers" in reference to the quaint herd of sheep grazing and fertilizing mostly vacant lots along the East Shoreway.

Yes, the 24 sheep and one protective llama are setting to work once again on the grassy plains of Cleveland. The ovine gang* arrived in Cleveland by way of Peninsula's Spicy Lamb Farm (which just sounds delicious) where owner Laura DeYoung oversees dozens of the, yes, "mandibular mowers" and promotes their appetite as a sustainable alternative to machine power.

Though more than a few readers are likely stroking their chins and pondering a fleet of sheep for their West Park backyard, this type of thing isn't a good idea for residential areas. Sheep, being sociable animals, enjoy munching greenery in groups. They also kinda like stretching out and tackling a large, open area. Vacant lots, of which Cleveland boasts plenty, are ideal sites for the miniature herd's hunger.

A volunteer - pardon me, an urban shepherd - will oversee the gang as they work across various sites this summer. It's fairly low-maintenance work, as the sheep pretty much know what they're doing and there are few opportunities for them to get into trouble. One urban shepherd who has worked with Spicy Lamb Farm told the Akron Beacon Journal: "I’ve never had a tire go flat on one of my sheep, and I’ve never had one in the maintenance shop."

The sheep will be hitting the region's grass along the lakeshore until September or October.

*Free band name idea for anyone lookin'

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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