Isn’t it wonderful when nature and man have mutual goals? I mean, really, how often does that happen?
Network Rail, the company in Great Britain responsible for maintaining the country’s rail tracks, has just hired a group – excuse me, that would be a flock – of sheep to protect a field that is home to a variety of rare native plants. The plants are threatened by brambles and hawthorn scrub (a.k.a. weeds) that grow wild, crowding out the native plants.
You may wonder, as I did, how putting a flock of sheep in this field will protect the rare plants. Sheep eat plants, right? Right. Here’s where the beauty of nature and man working together come in. These particular sheep, Wiltshire Horn sheep, are perfectly suited to the task at hand. They are short fleeced and their fur moults in the spring, so they don’t get caught on the brambles AND they only eat the brambles and scrub plants. You got it – they don’t eat the rare plants!
To date, the company has been paying 50,000 British pounds a year to get rid of the weeds. Now, thanks to the Huntingdonshire District Council who loaned the sheep and a shepherd to the company, Network Rail and British taxpayers are paying absolutely nothing. The humans, the sheep and the native plants are all happy. Problem solved. You’ve got to love it, don’t you?
If you’d like to read more about project HOOVES (High Output Ovine Vegetation System), I recommend this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/8512318/Network-Rail-employs-flock-of-sheep-to-save-wild-orchids.html