When A Tractor Wouldn't Do, This Conn. Town Called On Sheep | Connecticut Public Radio

When A Tractor Wouldn't Do, This Conn. Town Called On Sheep

Nov 25, 2018

Every winter, water on the historic town green in the small town of Lebanon, Conn. freezes and becomes the perfect place for ice skating.

“The skating pond in the location it presently is came about in the mid-to-late ‘70s by the construction of a small dam,” explained Betsy Petrie, Lebanon’s first selectman. “It makes sense because all the water does collect in this general low spot of the green and does create a very nice location for skating pond for people to use.”

But in the summertime, that portion of the green is used for hay.

Jason Nowosad keeps the sheep that were used on the town green.
Credit Tucker Ives / Connecticut Public Radio

“This year, with the amount of water, rain, and humidity in the summer, we couldn’t get hay mowed or dry,” said Jason Nowosad, a farmer who normally does hay on the green.

He needed help.

“We decided that maybe the sheep could go out there and do the mowing. Sheep are light footed. They won't make everything mud,” said Nowosad. “At the same time as they're out there mowing, they’re fertilizing. And hopefully we'll get a better hay crop next year.”

For more than a week, this herd of roughly 20 sheep mowed the hay to get it ready for ice skaters. Now that their job is done, a dam will go up to collect water.

Petrie said that although current residents may not be used to seeing livestock on the green, farmers used to regularly let their animals out there to graze.

“It’s just an innovative way to try to accomplish something in 2018 that probably hasn't been done for 50 or 60 years,” she said. “I don't think there's been any sheep legitimately out there in my entire time living here, and I've been here over 50.”

These temporary town workers are back to their day jobs -- grazing a few hundred feet away at their home farm.