Friday, May 10, 2002
Pack away the woolens but welcome the sheep! Carlisle's favorite summer visitors are on the way
Sometime during the next week or so, 250 shaggy vegetarians will spill down the ramps and into the dense thickets at Spencer Brook Reservation on West Street. Over the days that follow, they will chomp their way through buckthorn, poison ivy and other noxious invasives that have previously seemed invincible. Grasses will not be spared, but thanks to the accompanying free fertilizer, these desirable species will spring back, greener than ever. Rare plants will be protected by the fencing that keeps the meandering mowers within bounds.
Once the Spencer Brook site is cleanly cropped, the flock will move to Towle Field where, if last years experience is repeated, the morning rush hour traffic along Westford Street will slow to a virtual stop. Patient onlookers who time their arrival properly may even get to watch the two sheepdogs work their herding magic, guided only by the whistled orders of the shepherd.
The success of last year's experiment in natural husbandry, which not only slowed the relentless march of the buckthorn but restored a lush, green carpet to Towle Field, encouraged the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF) to continue to support the project. The flock is scheduled to make three passes spring, summer and fall on each of the target tracts, but will spare the bobolink nesting area until after the young birds have fledged in late July.
This year's herd, which comes from Virginia, is owned by Sheepscapes, LLC, a firm that has been in the business for ten years, and is now expanding. Headed by Bill Fosher of Surry, New Hampshire, it lists last year's manager of shepherds Chris Smart as a partner. The contract again includes the Concord Natural Resource Commission, the National Park Service and CCF, which is funding Carlisle's share.
Dog walkers and neighbors are warned that there will be a guard dog on duty inside the protective fence at all hours and are asked to keep their pets under firm control.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito