On Monday, we hauled most of our ewes and lambs home from a grazing contract in Lincoln - we're hoping to get the ewes shorn in the next several days, and we need to do the job at home. The move home is always somewhat noisy - lambs looking for their mothers and vice versa are very vocal. I delivered the last load at about 6 p.m., and everyone quieted down for the night.
However, they apparently didn't quiet down quickly enough for one of our neighbors. We found out from our friend Tom Harper, who keeps several bee hives at our place, that someone from Placer County Code Enforcement had talked to him when he checked his hives yesterday afternoon. I followed up with the woman from the County today and learned that a neighbor had filed a written complaint that we had too many sheep for our property (despite the fact that the grass in our pasture is thigh-high).
While our home property is relatively small, it is zoned "Farm," which means the County allows most agricultural production as a matter of right. The woman let me know that her research into our property, and her visit to our back pasture, indicated that we are well within our rights as property owners to have the sheep here. She indicated that she would respond to the neighbor who complained, and that she would let them know that the sheep will only be here long enough to be shorn. I was pleasantly surprised by the tone and substance of our conversation.
On one hand, I feel bad that a neighbor was so upset by our operation that they felt the need to file a formal complaint. We try to be good neighbors, but farming can be a noisy, dirty business at times. On the other hand, I feel upset that someone who lives in what is still a fairly rural area would object to a rural business such as ours.
It's been interesting having our sheep in very urban settings this spring. Nearly everyone who encounters our sheep in Rocklin and Lincoln loves them. I find it troubling, I guess, that a more rural neighbor finds the sound of lambs calling for their mothers to be offensive.