Today I got to spend another productive and beautiful morning working a band of sheep helping a friend's commercial sheep operation. These are the same 1000+ sheep we just sheared a couple of weeks ago. I've worked my own sheep on my ranch, but it was never more than 25 head, so this was another opportunity to get my hands dirty and learn something new. I was not disappointed. Doing it on the scale of a whole band brings a whole different dimension to the project and tasks at hand, and the 'old hands' here were kind and helpful and sharing of their knowledge and techniques. Docking tails, marking, vaccinating, castrating, visiting with old friends. One of the sheepmen was castrating the ram lambs the old Basque way by biting off the testicles with his teeth. It is quick and humane. Two of the biggest names in the western commercial sheep industry were here today, but I'm not for dropping names ;) . The children of some of these big names were there too. It was fun to see them at first, somewhat taken aback by all the blood, gore and fuss. They stood back - waaaaay back from the working chutes. But slowly, they began to come closer, and then asked to help. Pretty soon just like me and all the others, they were up to their elbows in blood, docked tails, lamb nuts, needles, paint, wool and dirt! Showing beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is hope for the sheep industry's future! I asked one of the "big names" why it was, more Americans don't or won't apply for sheep herding jobs. She told me they can't stand the solitude. Begin "stuck" out on the range for months living in a sheep camp wagon with no Facebook to check every ten seconds is apparently too much to ask for most anymore in this country, which is a truly pathetic statement. It shows how far we have gone from our pastoral roots in this society. She further commented that the couple of times they had tried American herders it had not fared well. The Peruvians on the other hand, loved the life and the solace that can come being unplugged from a world gone crazy with too much information and perhaps too much politics, hate, war and pollution.
Its a good life, this way of life, and I am happy to be able to help if even for a few hours at a time. Here's some photos taken this morning of the guardian dogs, herding dogs, sheep camp wagon, sheep, herders, helpers, more sheep, and oh, more sheep….