The tiny earthen homes where Frodo, Bilbo, Sam and the other hobbits once kicked up their hairy heels and drank ale have new tenants these days: a flock of sheep. Of the 37 hobbit homes built to represent Hobbiton in the film adaptations of J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, 17 remain and are today used for shelter by the sheep that live in the area.
These adorable scenes are from Matamata, New Zealand, where the Alexander Family Farm was once transformed into Hobbiton for the filming of the historic trilogy. After the production of the movies wrapped, much of the set was torn down and removed. But parts of Hobbiton still exist and now the partial village hosts tours for die-hard LOTR fans.
Among the former hobbit homes, sheep and their lambs go about their business, using the convenient little structures as shelter from the elements. Sadly, the homes look nothing like they did in the movies, but the sheep don’t seem to mind. This is a splendid example of nature reclaiming an area previously used by humans and finding new uses for man-made structures.
Leaving part of the Hobbiton set intact seems to be an ideal arrangement for everyone involved. The land owners are earning money for the tours of their land, fans get to walk in the footsteps of their favorite hobbits, and the animals who live off of the land get comfortable places to sleep. Besides being an excellent creative way to recycle, it’s keeping a part of movie history alive in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.