We moved about 140 lambs to another property just down the road in Auburn yesterday. To move them, we had two options: we could take 4-5 trailer loads of lambs at 2 miles per round trip, or we could walk them through one of our pastures at Thompson Ranch, onto Mt. Vernon Road, and into the new pasture (a walk of about 1 mile). We opted for walking them.
Surprisingly, the county road department was easy to work with - it turns out that there is currently no restriction on driving livestock on a county road provided they don't stray onto adjacent properties. Since we only had to use about 100 yards of Mt. Vernon Road, we didn't think we'd impact traffic too severely.
Our interns, Julie and Courtney, stopped traffic as we came onto the road. By the time we reached the road, Taff (our border collie) was pretty tired, but he gamely kept the sheep moving (along with Roger Ingram, our friend and local farm advisor). The sheep were on the road for less than two minutes.
The response of drivers who had to wait (or chose not to) was typical of the changes to our once-rural community. Several drivers were very patient, and one woman even got out of her car to help us turn the sheep into the lane. When I thanked her, she said, "I wouldn't miss this for the world!" On the other hand, several drivers decided they couldn't wait and whipped around Courtney to continue on their way. Fortunately, they didn't endanger our animals or themselves with their impatience.
My friend Bob Wiswell, whose family has raised sheep and cattle in Lincoln for several generations, tells stories about walking sheep from the home ranch up to a Forest Service grazing allotment beyond Foresthill - a walk of several days. While those days are lost to "progress," we enjoyed getting a small taste yesterday. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos to share - we were all to busy to snap pictures!