A modern nomadic shepherd makes a bountiful living foraging and “guerilla grazing” his sheep on public land. He also offers free farmhand services to those willing to let his sheep mow their lawn.
Aaron Fletcher has invented the coolest way to be homeless – or “home-free” as he calls it – as a nomadic shepherd.
His sheep meet almost his every need, providing him with food, clothing, shelter and warmth (not to mention dragging his stuff around). In exchange, he leads them to the most nutritious forage he can find alongside highways, byways and greenways in Southern Oregon.
After 10 years of “guerilla gardening” in public spaces around his hometown of Ashland, Oregon, the eco-activist found an easier way of procuring free food – “guerilla grazing.”
“This is 10 times more efficient because I’m harvesting [milking] multiple times a day,” Aaron said in a video interview. “I’m converting what’s already here into milk.”
“And the harvest is assured. Whereas if you guerilla garden, they could sell the property. They could mow it down. A deer could eat it.”
Aaron says all he needs for survival is a half gallon of milk a day (2100 calories), which his sheep easily produce simply by grazing on overgrown grass and weeds around town.
Though he claims raw, grass-fed milk is a complete food capable of meeting all his nutritional needs, he diversifies his diet by foraging plenty of wild herbs, fruits and nuts, and makes his milk into butter, whey and several varieties of cheese.
“Potatoes are the main thing I get from what I call the artificial economic system,” Aaron says as he makes cheesy potato soup in the video.
Aaron says he’s been home-free for over 12 years, and has gotten over half of his daily calories from his sheeps’ milk for the last 8 years.
His home is a super lightweight wagon covered with corrugated plastic and insulated with felted wool, on BMX bicycle wheels. Under his bed he’s rigged up what he calls a “mailbox wood-stove” with a horizontal stove pipe across the ceiling for maximum heat efficiency.
“Any welder can put together this wagon for $1000,” Aaron says.
He has two types of lightweight cooking stoves, and a solar tube oven for baking bread from wild barley and other wild grains he forages. He also has a solar charger for his cell phone, an evaporative cooler for a refrigerator, and a hand-pumped, pressurized shower made from a pesticide sprayer.
The sheep prefer to be constantly on the move to greener “pasture,” so Aaron designed his mobile home specifically to accommodate their wanderlust… he’s just along for the ride.
In addition to providing free mowing services to public lands, Aaron often parks his wagon on small farms, where he lets his sheep graze, while offering free farmhand services, such as cutting down poison hemlock with his scythe, cleaning out animal stalls, and “unclogging” chickens.
As an anti-consumer, pro-barterer, he also loves to trade his milk for meat, eggs and other organic produce.
Aaron believes two of society’s biggest problems are: 1. Small farmers being put out of business, which decreases local food security. 2. Increasing homelessness.
The farmers and the homeless could be the solution to each others’ problems, Aaron suggests. The farmers could cheaply house and feed the homeless in exchange for free labor they otherwise couldn’t afford.
“Living on a tent on a sustainable farm is a great deal for the homeless, and the farmer,” he says.
“I’m a prepper, but not a normal, selfish prepper,” Aaron says. “I’m a community prepper. I’m not so interested in surviving in a post-apocalyptic situation if everyone around me is suffering. So I’m trying to bring up the community so they can all thrive.”