By Lisa K. Berton
Walter Hagedorn never imagined a box of non-functioning mechanical sheep would generate any interest, let alone a group of regular visitors and a social media following. Yet, here he is, along with his family, greeting locals and tourists on the sidewalk in front of his home on Cedar Street in Brattleboro, Vermont.
The backstory: Walter was going through old inventory at his warehouse and came across the vintage toys he used to sell. As a joke, he placed a few on the dinner table as "interspecies observers" for Seder dinner to "make sure everything was Kosher" for their interfaith guests. He later put sheep on the lawn, thinking they probably wouldn't last long. On the contrary, neighbors became curious as to what the sheep were up to and soon, Walter obliged by setting up scenes with his wooly friends and even built fences and ladders for them. Although, one sheep did disappear and returned several weeks later as Blackie, the literal black sheep of the family.
Newfound fame: Via word of mouth, sheep peepers, his term for visitors, grew in number. Folks have been known to drop off items to be used in displays, including a small wooden barn, a mini recycle bin, and more. Walter took to social media and named his herd, The Love Sheep (formerly The Lawn Sheep). The ambitious crew has an International following on Facebook and Instagram.
What's next: Walter's passionate about making people happy and giving back to the community. His goals include creating a new product line of therapeutic comfort sheep, perhaps made by adults on the autistic spectrum, and donating a percentage of the profits to charities. "Taking the sheep off the lawn and into the world," he beamed. Another dream of his, appear on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show".
Visit: Sheep antics change often. If Walter is out front, chat him up. Maybe he'll have a small gift for ewe. Be prepared for puns as he truly loves how much others enjoy his kid-at-heart playfulness.