ChewsWise Blog

ChewsWise Blog

White House Garden Almost Jeffersonian, if Not for Sheep

Looks like the White House veggie garden is a go, confirming all the talk so far. Look forward to the official announcement. There's a long history to this -- Jefferson had a garden at the White House and grazed sheep on the front lawn in 1807.

According to the Jefferson Encyclopedia:

From James D. Barry he receivedthe animal that leaps most vividly from the letters and diaries of the time: a four-horned Shetland ram who for five years provoked his owner to both eulogy and malediction. Four days after receiving this "round and beautiful animal," Jefferson wrote to his ten-year-old granddaughter: "I am now possessed of individuals of four of the most remarkable varieties of the race of the sheep. . . . I mean to pay great attention to them, pro bono publico." He commissioned his Irish coachman to begin purchasing ewes and the Shetland ram was immediately put to the task of reproducing his own kind.

By the spring there were almost forty presidential sheep grazing on the square in front of the White House. If it had been the year 2000, there would also have been a flock of lawsuits. Several unsuspecting pedestrians tried to take a short cut across the square, met the Shetland ram, and were vanquished in their encounter. One William Keough wrote Jefferson that "in Passing through the President's Square [I] was attacked and severely wounded and bruised by your excellency's ram-of which [I] lay ill for five or six weeks." Another of the ram's unfortunate victims, as we learn from the diary of Jefferson's friend Anna Maria Thornton, was "a fine little boy killed by the Ram that the president has."

Obviously, that type of animal husbandry would best be avoided now, though a ram might do wonders for dealing with AIG.