Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 2015 - #sheep365

I'm a month into my little project of documenting my year of working with sheep with photography (with the hashtag #sheep365).  I've enjoyed thinking about how to tell a story about raising sheep through photographs - I hope you've enjoyed the photos, too!  Only 331 more days of this left (as somebody pointed out early on, I should have called this project #sheep366 because 2016 is a leap year).

Another fun aspect of this project has been that other sheep-raisers are already using the hashtag, or have started since I picked it up.  If you go to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and search for #sheep365, you'll see sheep from other parts of the world - pretty cool!  If you raise sheep, I hope you'll start sharing photos with this hashtag, too!

Finally, I've been contemplating what it means to be a shepherd.  If you haven't read The Flock by Mary Austin, you should (and I highly recommend the University of Nevada Press edition, which includes an outstanding afterword by Barney Nelson).  Here's how Mary Austin defines a shepherd: "A shepherd is an owner who travels with the flock, with or without herders, overseeing and directing...."  She contrasts this with an "owner or wool grower [who] sits at home...seldom seeing his flocks."  While shepherd isn't a term that's used much in the U.S., I like this description - I suppose a shepherd is what I am!

At the end of each month during the duration of this project, I'll post a blog entry with my favorite photos.  I'm finding that the photos aren't staying in chronological order (thank you Google) - sorry for the confusing layout! Thanks for following along!
A sheepherder selfie (shelfie?!) while moving irrigation!
In early October, I took a day off from my shepherding
responsibilities and went deer hunting - successfully, I might add!
Wondering where the pea crisps are!
Kate supervised the end of irrigation season!
October in Placer County - grazing sheep under the persimmon trees!
Rosie - director of security.
Red sky at night - no rain in sight.
Love this pasture - and the sheep do, too.
Waiting to get started - not one of Ernie's strong suits.
Moving up the road to Amber Oaks Farm - easier than hauling with the trailer.
Integrated pest management - we get green feed, and Amber Oaks Berry farm gets
pest control!  Works well for both of us!

Sorting our breeding groups on October 1 - with Roger Ingram.
Fred, our new Shropshire ram.  We've put him with the mule and Shropshire
breeding group.

My second deer hunting trip in October - in the High Sierra!
The rams enjoy their work!
In the berries...
The ewes like dog food - and so does Reno!
The rams must be in good body condition going into the breeding season -
they kinda forget to eat for about 6 weeks cuz there's too much to do!
Sometimes a border collie is required to keep the sheep
away from the guard dog's dinner.
About midway through the month, I discovered that Instagram
allows me to combine photos - what a nerd I am!
What a goofball!
Taff is retired, but he still loves to nap in
the back of my truck!
The first heavy dew of the fall - and the first wet feet!
Nothing better to a shepherd than seeing sheep with their heads down, grazing!
Had chores and homework to do on the night of our county fair
lamb carcass awards dinner, but I was able to drop off some reusable
shopping bags for the kids, courtesy of the American Lamb Board!
Another shelfie....
Sheep, sheep and more sheep....
Both the Macon girls play soccer, so it's part of every October.  Emma's team,
the 49er United Ambush, was third at the Roseville Ghosts and Goals tournament -
and they won the costume contest!
Nice pasture!
Always a curious ewe in the bunch....
We put bells on about 10% of the flock -
nice to be able to hear them if they get out
in the dark!
These girls were happy that I'd re-filled their mineral tub!
Waiting for rain....
Love this tree!
Raccoons are only a threat during lambing, but
Reno doesn't like them in his sheep any time
of the year.
Towards the end of October, we moved the mule/shrop breeding group into a stand of johnsongrass - a weed that's related
to Sudan grass.  We watch the weather this time of year - this grass becomes toxic after it freezes.
We're part of an informal group (the Foothill Grazing Geeks) of
ranchers who meet for pasture walks from time to time - we hosted
this month's meeting.
Any question why this particular crossbreed (sired by a Blueface Leicester ram out of a Cheviot ewe) is called a "mule"!?
Our irrigation water shut off on October 15.
Now we hope for rain....
As the days grow shorter, sometimes I don't see the sheep
in daylight hours.
Plenty of dog power!  Mo (L) and Ernie (R) are my everyday dogs.  Kate (C) belongs to a friend - we tried her out
for another friend, who is going to purchase her.  Kate will fly to Tennessee next week!
Halloween morning at Flying Mule Farm - hopefully the last warm and dry day for awhile.  Supposed to rain tomorrow - we'll see!
We had showers in early October - wish we'd had more!  This is our mule and
Shropshire breeding group.

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