Landscaping by sheep, from Dawn Farm
by Kati Shanks
From the September, 2019 issue
Dawn Farm runs detox, transition, and outpatient services in Ann Arbor, but none can match the charm of the rehab nonprofit's original Ypsi Township farm. A visit is almost always good for a duck sighting or maybe a nibble from an inquisitive goat, but a recent Saturday open house celebrated some special new arrivals: twelve baby lambs.
Shepherd Yuko Frazier is part of the core team of the Cooperative at Dawn Farm, a group working to make use of acreage not already farmed by the program's clients and volunteers. While the sheep grazed serenely between a couple of greenhouses, a visitor called out, asking how to get into the pen. "You can climb over, it's off," replied Frazier, gesturing at the electric fence surrounding the field. "Just don't tell [the sheep] that!"
Inside the fence, the baby lambs posed for photos and allowed themselves to be snuggled while their mothers grazed nearby. But what might pass for a pop-up petting zoo is just a side gig: the flock has a day job as Project Mow, Frazier's sheep-
powered landscaping service offering mowing, weed removal, and the euphemistic "soil enrichment." Project Mow's highest profile client is Ypsilanti's Riverside Park, where the sheep have developed a following for their annual summer cleanup.
Frazier says this year's mowing schedule was thrown off by the timing of the lambing process, but she's still committed to making the flock accessible to its fans. The sheep have an active presence on Facebook, and local social media groups frequently share updates on sightings around the area. The surest way to know Project Mow is out and about in your neighborhood? The "Sheep at Work" banner hanging from their travel trailer.
[Originally published in September, 2019.]
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