Lawnmowers are the one and only thing that can turn a neighbor from the greatest friend into the greatest enemy in a space of one Sunday morning.
The noise is definitely a main reason why these things are one of the most hated appliances, but it is really not the only one. They are huge energy (or fuel) consumers, and wasting all that power does not guarantee that they can reach everywhere. And to top it all up, wherever they can reach, all vegetation is mowed- regardless of whether it is grass, or special rare or protected species.
The Swiss rail operator, SBB, is facing a similar problem. In their case the noise is not that much of a problem, but the embankments along the railroads are often too difficult to reach and mow using conventional equipment. What is more, many of the areas are homes of endangered or rare vegetation species. The solution- the company “hired” Skudde sheep to take care of the job.
Talking about eco-friendly, energy saving means to mow grass, Skudde sheep definitely top the charts. These guys are a very rare breed, which almost disappeared from Switzerland back in the 1970s. Currently they are under the protection of the Swiss non-profit foundation ProSpecieRara, whose mission is to protect endangered plant and animal species.
The sheep do a brilliant job in trimming the grass, while leaving meadow plants untouched (something that a lawnmower can never do, nor can a cow, by the way). The animals are very efficient- they require only 1-2 hours of sleep and each one is able to mow around 10-20 sq meters of grass per day.
The animals are kept away from the railroad by special fencing, and they do not seem to mind the noise from the ongoing traffic.
On the SBB website, the company has provided a map of all locations where the sheep will be throughout the cutting of grass season, in case anyone is interested to observe the great job.
Image (c) SBB