The Shepherd, His Dogs, and the Sheep
A drove, herd or flock are all proper names for a group of sheep. Here in the meadow a large herd can be seen summer or fall. The owner of the herd hires shepherds and their dogs to guide the sheep through the open lands to graze. It is a site to see! In 2016 the herd was larger than I had ever seen.
As time goes on more and more people move to this area, few of them with any background in rural living. It can be very inviting this meadow, and the low mountain range to the south of us. To the eye, the area entices people with open space, bright stars and some winter white snow.
In contrast, the reality is, that fast moving fires have swept the mountain terrain twice since we moved to the land. Lightning fires hit the meadow repeatedly one summer day. Surrounding communities have faced fires so often, it is rare to go a year without a fire in the region. While the beauty is enticing, the danger of wildfires are very real.
The cattle grazing from the tree line down, and the sheep's summer passage through the area, are a huge defense in reducing the level of damage should a wildfire breakout. There are neighbors that consider the sheep a nuisance. Not us. When the sun is high, we offer fresh drinking water to the obliviously parched shepherds.
My Dad said that "good fences, make good neighbors". Dad said it more times than I can remember. When I told my dad we bought this land, his first words were "fence it". It took some time, but we did.
Spring 2015 ~ The cattle have grazed all year below the mountain. The fence line is clearly seen that separates the pasture from the meadow land. The brush is growing uninhibited in the meadow, where homes have been established on both sides of the main road.
In a society, where people equate grazing livestock with inconvenience, people lack the understanding of the circle of life. Today, some of the most valuable resources on earth, are not recognized by society. We appreciate the shepherds and their dogs.
Homesteaders invest time and resources to protect their way of life. Whether it is fencing fields or using stock dogs to protect livestock it all comes with a price. At Root Cellar Farm, it took us years to get the perimeter of the land fenced with stock fencing. The peace of mind it brings is worth every penny and drop of sweat that went into making it happen.
The first part of the video is taken from the south side of our land, the section where grain is planted when possible.
Watch the video at the 2 o'clock position,
on the right hand side, at approximately 1 minute and 40 seconds. You will see the herd dogs coming from right to left. The dogs will go 1/2 mile down the meadow and gather the sheep up to the shepherd. In the meantime the shepherd brings the sheep off the main road. You will see some sheep start moving back up the road as my husband makes a trip around the house to make sure our gates are secured.
The Shepherd, his Dogs and, the Sheep
Once the herd of sheep were resting in the field to the east of us, one of the herd dogs seen at our gate came across our fence line. He visited with our dog for a few moments, never approaching the roaming chickens.
Once he had seen enough, I watched as he slowly strolled away, returning to the herd of sheep and the shepherd.
Some small sections of land around the mountain are open range.
Laurie Jane 3/2017