As summer ends, three workers prepare for a common plunge: they’re about to leave their home in upstate New York and head to Manhattan, where a new job awaits. Are they prepared for urban life? Do they feel nervous, as they depart their pastoral town, about making their way in the big bad city?
It’s hard to tell, because they’re sheep. As the New York Times reports, three ewes from Elizaville, New York, are about to start a six-week landscaping shift at the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in Nolita.
In New York, Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is using sheep to cut the grass this summer (CNS photos) pic.twitter.com/GTfJGvQG7K— Rhina Guidos (@CNS_Rhina) August 12, 2016
The Cathedral’s administrator, Frank Alfieri, has brought sheep in to cut the grass since 2013, when the human landscaper retired. The first ewe crew “did a better job than the guy,” Alfieri told the Times.
This is a fairly common sentiment. Over the past few years, sheep have been put on grounds duty everywhere from the city parks of Fort Saskatchewan, Canada, to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. In the spirit of healthy competition, goats keep Brooklyn’s Prospect Park trimmed in the summers, and a full goat/sheep/llama team takes care of unruly vegetation at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. (Of course, animals have been doing this type of work for a while, usually without quite so much fanfare.)
Proponents of this landscaping style bolster their case with a number of sheeply virtues. “Animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine,” farmer Marcel Collet told the Associated Press in 2013, after bringing grass-cutting sheep to Paris’s City Hall. “And they’re so cute.” (Weirdly, mid-20th century homeowners said much the same about lawnmowers.)
Sheep cuteness is undeniable at the Cathedral, where the workers will wear small protective jackets, and will be given names chosen by the community. You can visit them starting later this week, and until mid-October.
Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to firstname.lastname@example.org.