It was 11pm when Yuko Frazier received a Facebook direct message telling her the sheep had escaped. Her flock of around 40 sheep left their fence at Frog Island Park and were traipsing around Ypsilanti. So, Frazier got in her car to corral her sheep back to where they were supposed to be eating the grass and weeds.
The next morning she woke up to social media posts and feeds about the incident.
“This episode could be my favorite or least favorite [memory],” Frazier said. “People in Ypsilanti love that kind of stuff so it was a bad moment for me because it is the middle of the night and it is kind of embarrassing.”
Frazier has kept sheep since 2016. Previously, she had kept other livestock, including chickens and pigs, but wanted a bigger animal.
“You want to be able to handle the animal by yourself,” Frazier said. “So it was sheep or goat and my husband was like ‘goats jump’ and I said ‘okay, sheep then.’”
The summer of 2016 was particularly dry. This means that, when Frazier got the sheep off of Craigslist, she had to move them around almost every day to make sure they had enough food to eat. The sheep were originally living at Dawn Farm so Frazier drove to the sheep, packed them into her trailer, and went off to find their food all while still working as a project manager for a landscaping company. Frazier began leasing out the sheep to others who needed their land mowed, thus beginning Project Mow.
“There is a difference between taking care of pets and livestock,” Frazier said. “It is a practical skill, you can YouTube it, you can read about it, you can practice it, but the biggest thing I learned is the mental setup, inevitably, there will be death and birth. All of that very emotional part of homesteading and taking care of animals so that is something you just have to build muscle for.”
Through social media and email messages, Frazier has been able to lend out her sheep as needed. This year, she is completely booked up as she tends to make back-to-back bookings. The sheep are left on the scheduled property overnight for as long as it is needed to finish the area. Before the sheep arrive on-site, Frazier meets with the client to talk about their needs and installs a fence to keep the sheep in.
“Can [the sheep] be the replacement or supplement to gasoline charge landscaping and grass cutting?” Frazier questioned. “Or could this be a part of local food where they eat the brushes and weeds and that turns into people’s food while fertilizing the land at the same time? When you do something in nature’s way or the right way, there are so many benefits that offset it.”
Stay Environmentally Conscious
During the winter, Frazier keeps the sheep on her property where they roam and eat hay. When they are not contracted out, the sheep take care of a 50-acre piece of land that Frazier rents out. The land she rents is now proposed to be rezoned from agricultural land to subdivision and community zoning. She is outspoken on Project Mow’s Instagram about the potential negative environmental ramifications of the rezoning.
“That land is controlling the water movement and absorbing all the water from the sky and other areas,” Frazier said. “We are really close to the Huron River as well. If it becomes paved, what is proposed is around 80% regrading of the land, which is going to completely change the water movement. That is really my number one concern because water is life and wildlife follows. Yes, I have sheep and I would love my sheep to graze on it. But for the most part, the environment is my concern.”
Project Mow is located in Ypsilanti. To rent goats, check out the Project Mow website.