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Got sheep?

Niagara-on-the-Lake in the Niagara Region wine country is a beautiful place.

You can cruise for hours down stretching gravel drives that clip stones at the metal underbelly of speeding cars. The crisscrossing concrete concession roads link motorists and cyclists alike to the plethora of verdant vineyards.

The region has giant wineries — Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs — with their luxurious grounds and productive vineyards that churn out thousands of bottles a year.

But it also has smaller facilities that produce variations of organic wine — a product notoriously difficult to grow in Niagara’s climate.

These wineries have found creative ways to produce what the winemakers say is tastier and healthier wines.

The particular method of using sheep to “calm” the vineyards at some wineries is interesting to me as an aspiring photographer fascinated with documenting the way humans, the land, and animals interact.

A Niagara-on-the-Lake winery called Southbrook uses sheep for natural vineyard maintenance. It allows the animals to roam the property, eating weeds and bugs otherwise harmful to the grapes.

Here are a few photos I took of the sheep herd at the Southbrook Winery.

Because I worked at the daily newspaper during the day in St. Catharines, it was dusk when I arrived on my bike. The sheep were penned in a wire enclosure for the evening, and a few curious loners came over to investigate the visitor. They weren’t afraid.

The sheep remind me of inquisitive, little, not-so-intelligent aliens. In some ways, the animals’ facial expression is surreal. In any case, they are certainly charismatic creatures.

mom and baby sheep

sheep and wire 2

Photos were taken by Robin Grant using a Rebel DSLR in late May, 2013.



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