Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baaa-d example

The slow news cycle breeds odd posts. Think Progress flags this story about a PA school cuts costs by using sheep to cut the grass.
Rather than spend money on cutting grass, the Carlisle School District has brought in 7 Romney sheep to tend the fields. “They’ve done a good job so far,” says Superintendent John Friend.

The sheep come free of charge, since they belong to the principal of the middle school. Friend estimates that they will save the district about $15,000 this year in mowing costs.
The reaction among the so-called "hippie class" has been surprising.
Steve Benen: "You know, nothing says “21st century global superpower” like schools turning to sheep because they can’t afford lawnmowers."

Bob Cesca: "We’re seriously a few more sheep and a Thunderdome away from becoming Bartertown."

My reaction: "But using sheep instead of lawnmowers is good for the environment. Real hippies have been using sheep and goats forever, for that very reason."
The comment sections tell me I'm not the only one who had that thought. Now I understand the reason the school system turned to a green solution is because of horrible budget cuts to education. And yeah, the human being who was being paid to mow with pollution spewing equipment is going to suffer loss of income. But life is a balancing act.

I have empathy for the lawnmower guy, but he's in the wrong business. I'd approve of this strategy even if the schools were fully funded. I mean how can you support addressing climate change without considering this exact solution to lawn maintenance?

And as for the people who wonder what happens to the sheep shit? Well as manure goes, sheep droppings are one of the better manures:
Because sheep make use of ingested sulfur compounds to produce wool, their manure does not have the unpleasant-smelling sulfides found in cow manure. It is also in separate pellets, or in pellets that hold together in a clump [which looks kind of like a pinecone], and thus is less messy in the garden. . . [In the pastures], its pelleted form causes it to fall in the grass instead of lying on top of it where it might smother the vegetation.
Also relatively dry when fresh and dries out quickly in the field. Not really icky to step on and if memory serves, doesn't stick to your shoes like stepping in pile of cow dung, or even dog poop, would.

Assuming most of the critics are city people and don't know this, but surprised Benen didn't see the benefits. I mean, he lives in Vermont. Also, Rachel Maddow, who flagged Benen's post on the twitter. She's from the Happy Valley, one of the few remaining hippie havens in America.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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