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2 white lambs grazing _LeS_/Getty Images
SHEEP-POWER: A flock of sheep can do a good job of mowing, if you can keep them corralled.

Latest innovation in lawn mowing: Sheep

Front Porch: Here’s an apology to all the companies that just released state-of-the-art lawn mowers. I’ve got you beat — just let the sheep out!

Companies making serious lawn mowing equipment bring their latest to the Farm Progress Show. Someone typically introduces a riding lawn mower with new features. Maybe it has a bigger engine or an improved deck.

I’ve got them all beat. The advertising literature might say “zero gas required” or “don’t spend another dollar on gas to mow your yard.” For features, it might read “rated at 6 mouths per second.” Now, that’s power.

I tried my model out this summer. Or more accurately, the six older ewes tried it out on their own. They had plenty of pasture to eat, but it’s always greener on the other side of the fence. They lifted the chain latch over the gate, walked down the aisle behind the barn and presto! A whole yard full of grass to eat … er, mow.

My “gas-free mower” features 24 legs and remote control, sort of. They always eat in one spot at a time because they stay together. Occasionally, one wanders out of line, but when the group moves, she comes back. If you don’t let them mow too long, there’s even no “exhaust” to clean up.

Wife’s version
OK, my wife, Carla, doesn’t put quite the same spin on six ewes in the backyard. She’s still learning how to become a salesman. Although the second time they got out in the same morning, she probably would have sold them cheap for any purpose. She might have sold me, too.

Her version is I’m absent-minded and forget to throw the chain over the gate when bringing show lambs in and out. My version is they know how to flip the chain themselves, and I’m sticking to it.

One challenge I’m still working on is how to shut off my 6-mouth lawn mower and put it back in the barn. The remote-control feature loses signal, and they tend to scatter. Or as Carla tells it, they’re spoiled and aren’t ready to go back in the pen.

The first time they finished mowing, I finally herded them into the aisleway. One wayward mower slipped by and I had to retrieve her. That’s when the others nearly knocked Carla down from behind as she was reaching the gate. That might have something to do with why she was less than thrilled when they decided to mow the yard again about a half-hour later.

This time I decided my new lawn mower needed a shutoff switch. A red plastic bucket with just enough feed in the bottom to rattle ought to do the trick, I thought. After all, Carla says every animal on the farm, including the barn cats, are spoiled. I can’t argue with that one.

Sure enough, I rattled the feed in the bucket and they came running for the aisle. Carla was nowhere near it this time. I dumped what little feed was in the bucket in the trough, and left the pen, chaining it so they couldn’t get it off this time. Carla’s version is she stood and watched me chain the gate so she knew it was fastened.

Hey, you got a yard that needs a late-season trim? I’ve got a trailer to haul my mower in. And, yes, patent is pending!

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