Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I'm re-reading Fencing the Sky by James Galvin - in my narrow little world, it's one of the most important novels written in the last 20 years.  I highly recommend it!  Here's a few quotes:

"But of all the conversations man has and has had with nature, agriculture is arguably the most intimate, lively, and potentially loving one, since it is ancient, necessary...."

"Who speaks for the land?  Or, more properly, who interprets the language of subtlety and catastrophe?  Farmers?  Ranchers?  Environmentalists?  What do you lose, from an environmental point of view when you lose a family farm or ranch?

"Besides losing a way of life, a culture opposed to the dominant First World values of expansion and greed, you lose species diversity, care, and the thread of the conversation concerning a particular place."

One of the characters, Oscar Rose, says in response to the above ideas: "So I'm not complaining.  I don't mind the work.  Just let me do it.  I don't mind being invisible.  I just don't want to disappear."

While Placer County has a thriving agricultural community, my chosen "profession" - shepherding - is largely a solitary endeavor.  I like to think that I'm part of "a culture opposed [to] expansion and greed."  I've also realized, especially as we've provided grazing services in a suburban community, that my work is largely invisible.  For the vast majority of Americans, the work that we do is out of sight and out of mind - food is what's on the supermarket shelves.

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