Words and Photos by Alanna Conn
Alyssa Dolan has mastered the art of corralling.
When Alyssa Dolan starts her shift at Pearson’s Town Farm, her first task is to take the goats out on leashes. If they’re feeling agreeable, it takes 10 minutes. If they’re not, they fall down in a dramatic display of revolt, and the job takes considerably longer.
Next, she checks in on the chickens. If any fights broke out among the brood overnight, she’ll survey the damage and massage a rooster ankle or two. It’s all part of a typical day for Dolan, but it’s not complete until she has to wrangle Chuck.
Chuck is the resident ram at Pearson’s Town Farm, one of a group of sheep “who are particularly fussy,” says Dolan. “And not only is Chuck cranky, but he absolutely hates me.”
And that’s a problem because Michial Russell, Saint Joseph’s farm manager, needs the sheep moved from the fields to the barn regularly: for shearing, for shots, for breeding, when it’s cold, when it’s hot…. There’s always a reason.
Dolan, who has worked at Pearson’s Town Farm for the past five years and was recently promoted to community supported agriculture (CSA) manager, is one of the only farmers capable of taking on Chuck—and that’s nothing to scoff at. He’s big. He sometimes knocks people over. He fears no one.
“It’s scary, but I’ve discovered the easiest way to move him,” says Dolan. “I take some grain, shake it, and run for my life! And since he can’t stop on a dime like I can, I step to the side and he charges past me, right where we need him to be—either in the barn or in the field.” Then it’s only a matter of getting him into a headlock and waiting until the rest of the herd catches up. Only.
Dolan’s a part-time student studying business and sustainability at the College, with hopes to run her own farm one day. She wants to teach people about sustainable gardening, and to provide fresh vegetables to the community.
It just so happens that she’ll be a professional ram wrangler, as well.