The Sheep of Nashville: The Chew Crew

Unlike my normal rambling openings, I’m going to cut to the chase.

This was the scene at Becca and Joe’s farm over the weekend. I stopped by their house because I heard the sheep from the Nashville Chew Crew were “working” in their yard and I wanted to show our out-of-town guests another side of Nashville. That Zach Richardson, founder, owner, and chief urban shepherd of Chew Crew was there showing his college buddies his flock in action was bonus.

The Chew Crews’ work around Nashville, “cleaning” fields of invasive plants in a sustainable way, is both novel and legendary having been well documented by The Tennessean and by my delightful and funny friends over at Mason-Dixon Knitting.

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What makes the story even better is to see a young man, a Nashvillian, use his gifts and talents to start a successful business doing good in the community. Zach went to MBA (Montgomery Bell Academy) for high school and UGA (University of Georgia) for undergraduate and graduate school where he earned a degree in Landscape Architecture. His area of expertise is targeted urban grazing, a sustainable method of clearing overgrown lots without using chemicals. Zach uses sheep to clear lots. Zach is adorable, spoken like a mother, I know.

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Just before Zach arrived, we were admiring the Chew Crew flock at work. Reba, their guard dog, was barking unhappily. It is her job to stay with the herd 24/7 and protect them, with the help of an electric fence, from predators. She saw us as predators.

Zach arrived with his border collie, Duggie. Duggie’s job is to gather and guide the herd of sheep when Zach gives commands.

In this photo, the sheep are waiting for their next command.

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These sheep are known as “hair” sheep. All sheep were originally hair sheep, but with domestication, their hair to wool ratio gradually changed to be more wool than hair, if that was the desired trait. You can read more about that at Sheep 101.

In this photo, you can see the fields already cleared by the sheep.

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When we were in New Zealand, I thought of another potential use for the Chew Crew: clearing the grass around vineyards.

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The Chew Crew is comprised of sixty sheep, all ewes (females) and one ram. All of the ewes are pregnant and due in January and February. There is lots of excitement ahead for the Chew Crew team.

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Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

20 thoughts on “The Sheep of Nashville: The Chew Crew

  1. I love this story! Especially the fact that this smart Nashville “boy” pursued such an innovative, yet age-old, method for land management. Good for him! And good for you letting us all enjoy the story as well–thank you! (I wish my yard were big enough to need The Chew Crew, though parts of it are certainly overgrown enough for them!).

    1. The dog is darling! That’s phenomenal that they can attack poison without getting sick. The other biggies are English ivy, privet, honeysuckle, and kudzu. Kudzu was the main vine this family was trying to irradicate. I read Kudzu can grow a foot/day!

  2. Judy…what an inspiring story! Thank You! I only wish Forest Hills would allow sheep (I don’t think they would) I would love to have them on our ridge where we have many invasive plants.

    1. Cathy, you should check with the powers that be in FH. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t allow the sheep to clear invasive vines and weeds. I love that Nashville Public Works has been using them in various parts of the city to control the overgrowth of weeds.

  3. Yes. Kudzu grows that fast. That’s how we know (well, one way) that we know when a drought is a “serious drought”—when the kudzu shrivels up and turns brown. It’s about the last thing to burn up when we are desperate for rain.

    Cute sheep. I love it when people do something that is actually sensible.

  4. I love this whole idea! It’s a win-win-win!
    (I also love that shepherd’s t-shirt!)
    Thanks for highlighting this operation, Judy!

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