In lots of ways, the nature of the work that I do with sheep has changed profoundly over the last two millennia. I drive my truck to the pastures where my sheep are grazing. I use electric fence to contain the sheep. I use ear tags to identify them. I use electricity to shear them. But in some ways, the work of a shepherd is the same. I use dogs to protect them from predators and move them from pasture to pasture. I worry about them in stormy weather. I spend a great deal of time outdoors, regardless of the weather. I get their wool off in the springtime. I make sure the lambs are mothered up with the ewes. I suspect I'd recognize the work that shepherds in the Middle East were doing two thousand years ago - and I suspect they'd recognize the work I do today. Shepherding isn't the oldest profession in the world, but it's probably among the top ten!
At this time of year, our work slows down. The ewes are bred - most are in the first trimester of their pregnancies. Their nutritional requirements are satisfied by the green grass that germinated in October (at least this year) and by the minerals we provide. Most of our effort involves putting up and taking down electric fence as we move the sheep. Since the ewes don't have lambs at their sides at the moment (and won't until late February), we don't worry too much about stormy weather. In the days leading up to Christmas, we'll move the sheep to a large, grassy paddock so that our chores on Christmas day are minimal.
Six months from now, I'll be leaving the house around sunrise and getting home around sunset - much like now. The difference is that this time of year, I'm leaving home around 7:30 in the morning - and generally getting home before 6 in the evening. I enjoy the long days and the work of summer - all the more because I get to enjoy the long nights and rest of winter. And so as the year winds down towards the winter solstice, I'm appreciating the chance to recharge and renew my energy. I hope you are, too.