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Monday, August 08, 2016

And to Think I saw It On Mulberry Street!

You might be used to seeing farm animals in New York City, particularly if you head to the Bronx or Central Park zoos. But you might be surprised to find a trio of sheep taking up residence in Nolita.

And they're just as useful as they are cute.

"These are the friendliest sheep in New York," said Frank Alfieri, of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral.

They are the only sheep south of Houston Street, and they are named after the streets that border their temporary home. There's Mulberry, Elizabeth and Mott.

"It's become almost something that's expected when people come here," Alfieri said. "And when they leave, people are upset."

They are temporary residents of the church cemetery, where they have become very much a part of this community. Even the locksmith pitches in.

"He alarmed their pen, put cameras that we monitor all the time," Alfieri said. "We've got a virtual shepard."

Alfierie says this is actually the second set of ewes to pass through, after a similar troupe called the graveyard home last fall.

"The people who tend to the property said, 'Oh what if we retire, what would you do?'" Alfieri said. "Pastor, Monsignor Sakano said, 'Oh, I'll get sheep.'"

And sheep there were, making the lawn mower obsolete. Their arrival coincided with the Feast of San Gennaro and the restoration of the church, and when the trio showed up about two months ago, the grass was about 10 inches high.

They've been busy.

"They love it," Alfieri said. "I think they're not going to be too happy when they leave."

Their departure date is July 10, when they'll head back to the upstate farm they came from. But maybe, just maybe, come September, a new set of lambs will appear.