“Giving Sheep a Job”*

In an article in The Buckeye Star, July 6, 2018, a flock of 200 sheep are being used in the Willcox area to keep Johnson grass, tumbleweed and mesquite trees from overgrowing the solar panels.  The Red Horse II solar and wind farm belongs to a Houston company and “contracts with Tucson Electric Power to provide renewable energy”.  Rusty Cocke owns the sheep grazing here.  Any shade on the solar panels reduces the efficiency of the units.  The arrangement is good both for the owners of the solar panels and Rusty as landscaping services are less for the owners and Rusty has plenty of feed for his sheep.

Sheep and goats are used in other locations than Arizona to eat invasive vegetation.  Some wineries are also using the animals before the grapes begin to form on the vines to keep undergrowth in check.  If the vines are high enough the sheep will not graze on the grapes.  The article states that Rusty would like to help the vineyards in southern Arizona.  Sheep, cows and goats can be used to keep our forest healthy and less prone to forest fires.  Each have their own niche.

As a side note, I learned this summer from a sheep owner in Kentucky that sheep really like beets too.  Ballyhoo Farm, Bagdad, Kentucky has also advertised her sheep to be used as lawnmowers in her area.  Many homes have huge yards and what better way to keep the graze trimmed.  It is better for the environment and free fertilizer is added to the grass.  Sheep would be quieter than the lawn mower even if it would take a little longer for the grass to be trimmed.  A good sheep dog would be all that is needed. I would call that a win-win situation.

This title is a copyrighted quote by Minna White who has given me permission.  Thank you Minna.  It is a great title for this blog!

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