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Showing posts from July, 2012

Taking Time

This summer, we're grazing our rams at a neighbor's property about 3/4 of a mile away from our home place.  We try to keep our rams at least a mile away from our ewes until breeding season starts (the ewes are all on leased pasture 3 miles or more from the house) - the "ram effect" helps synchronize ovulation and increase twinning rates.  While I could have driven to the ram pasture in a matter of minutes, I opted to ride my mule instead.  The decision to ride instead of drive meant that I needed to groom my mule, saddle her, ride to the ram pasture and back, and unsaddle and groom her again.  Had I decided to burn petroleum, the chore would have taken all of 10 minutes.  Riding my mule made it a 45 minute task.
Part of why I decided to farm as a livelihood was the fact that I would be in charge of my own time - no punching a time clock for me!  In theory, this sounds great - I'm my own boss!  Unfortunately, my boss is insane on occasion - there's always more…

Dogs, Neighbors, and Farming Close to Town

As regular readers of Foothill Agrarian (all three of you) know, the dogs of Flying Mule Farm (both herding and guarding dogs) play an important role in our operation and in the lives of our family.  I rarely go anywhere without at least one of our border collies, and our livestock guardian dogs (despite the occasional management problems they present) do an incredible job of protecting our sheep from mountain lions, coyotes, domestic dogs and other predators.

Regular readers also know that we farm close to town, and that our proximity to suburbia creates both opportunities and challenges for us.  We love the fact that our farmers' market customers drive by our sheep on their way to town, and that many kids first touch a live lamb on our farm.  On the downside, many folks in our community no longer have first hand experience with production agriculture.

About a year ago, we received an anonymous email from a neighbor (who did not identify him/herself) complaining that our dogs barke…

Robert Burns' Perspective on Shepherds

I suspect that most folks know Robert Burns by his poem "Auld Lang Syne" - we at least think of the Scottish poet at the end of every year.  I don't know much more about Burns, but as a fan of Scottish music, I've learned a bit about his poetry.  I especially like the version of his "A Man's a Man for a' That" by the Scottish band The Old Blind Dogs.  Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to download a recording of "The Shepherd's Wife" (a Burns poem) by Jim Malcolm (one-time front man for The Old Blind Dogs).  Here's a translation of the poem:

As a modern day shepherd, I know that I'm guilty of working long past the time when I should be home! Some things don't change!