I need a break from cancer: from thinking about it, from writing about it.

Thank you, Eddie Miller, for providing that break.

photo: The New York Times

Miller is the brains behind sheep-scaping, the newest trend in landscaping. Instead of a crew of guys, Miller employs Panda, Nerd, Princess, and Carol. They’re Jacob sheep by breed, “organic lawn pruners” by trade.

When he graduated from Boston University with a double major — Economics and Environmental Science –last year and couldn’t find a job, Miller founded Heritage Lawn Mowing using sheep instead of a lawnmower. Sheep are cheap, sustainable, and much greener than conventional lawnmowers. Business was booming in Oberlin, Ohio. He started small, with two sheep who grazed in his parents’ backyard, and admits that the impetus for buying the sheep was that his (now ex-) girlfriend thought they were cute. Once the first two sheep chowed his parents’ lawn, Miller started moving his tiny, hungry flock to the yards of friends. While walking his sheep from house to house, he realized he had an innovative business model on his hands. Thus, sheep-scaping was born.

Customers pay $1 per sheep per day to have their lawns sheep-scaped. Most jobs require two sheep and cost on average $8 — far less than the going rate for commercial landscapers. Miller says that Jacob sheep eat broad-leaf plants, dandelions, clovers, and grass. They seem to know not to eat flowers and ornamental plants. “They have a built-in weed whacker,” he said. Because they lack teeth on the top, they don’t rip grass out by its roots.

They’re a delightful breed of sheep, according to the Jacob Sheep Breeders’ Association: “The American Jacobs are an old world sheep which, unlike many other old world breeds, have not undergone improved breeding and out crossing to satisfy the commercial marketplace. They have a more primitive body shape, are slender boned and provide a flavorful, lean carcass with little external fat. The carcass yield from hanging weight to freezer is high when compared to the more improved breeds.”


I didn’t need to know that much.

Let’s focus on how cute they are, instead of what good eatin’ they can be.

photo: JSBA

After achieving the holy grail of publicity, an article in The New York Times, Miller and his business seemed destined for success. However, further research on my part revealed that Heritage Lawn Mowing is no more. After weathering a few setbacks, including some sheep sickness, his business suffered a fatal blow in the form of a $150 ticket for “animals at large.” His sheep escaped through a gate and were found wandering the streets. The $150 fine was earmarked for the purchase of a tractor cart that he could use to transport the sheep and their hay as he migrated west to Jackson Hole, WY. Miller made it to Jackson Hole, but the sheep did not.

So now Miller is a sheep-less shepherd in Big Sky Country. He’s set his sights on elk, which apparently are rampant in Wyoming. He wants to work with the National Parks system to develop a permaculture farm with elk and pine trees. I hope he makes it.




9 Comments on “Sheep-scaping”

  1. Eddie says:

    You have a lawn, right? Macy loves animals. Christmas is coming . . .

  2. Patti Ross says:

    What a fun break, for all of us. Take as many breaks as you need, whenever you need. I do like Eddie’s idea about a Christmas present!

  3. David Benbow says:

    Don’t let Julie see this. She’s been after me to get goats for years. Too bad his sheep venture didn’t pan out. The things we do for our (now ex-) girlfriends!

  4. I loved that story when I saw it. What a shame it didn’t work out. I’d love to see those sheep grazing on my lawn. A change from the pesky deer!

  5. Wonderful story. Most of my neighbors have sheep and goats or Texas Longhorns and elk. I love seeing them by the fence when I drive by, but as full time landscapers, they can ruin a piece of land in a blink. Eddie Miller had the right idea though, to use them as occasional landscapers.

  6. Christy says:

    This is just what I need. A sheep to add to my zoo!! I love it!

  7. Jan Hasak says:

    Sheep are so loveable–and gullible. I’ve heard of goats being used to handle the blackberry problem and other lawn menaces, but never sheep. What a cool idea!

  8. pinkheart says:

    I just knew your “ewwwwww” was coming. 🙂 Thanks for the funny, and escape from cancerland, if only briefly.

  9. katthenomad says:

    I’ve never heard of sheep-scaping before. But that’s probably because we don’t have a lot of sheep in the Philippines. Awesome idea! Too bad it closed shop. 😦

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