The journey to Shepard-hood I imagine is unique for many - you have a bit of space so you get a couple of goats -now you need a Livestock Guardian - who doesn't have enough to do so you get chickens - everyone loves fresh eggs and you can sell them to your friends! - your kids convince you to get a miniature pony- which is cute but doesn't get along with the goats - so you add a Highland Cow as a friend because, WOW, aren't they gorgeous - then SHEEP, everyone loves sheep, and they can stay with the goats!!! Ta-da you find yourself a shepherd of sorts. That was not quite my journey but it sounded good.
For me it started with knitting - more years ago than I would care to admit- which turned into Spinning - morphed into dying - the discovery of long locks - and plummeted head first into needing, NEEDING, my own flock. Five or six beautiful longwools would do. Enough to enjoy taking care of them and having a few fleeces to play with that were alllll mine and a physical manifestation for the love of the animals, the work, the wool, and all of it's possibilities.
That was 2017 - and the slope is so slippery that those first five sheep have turned quickly into over fifty, and ten Great Pyrenees dogs (I already had two but splitting up pastures meant I needed more, right? - I'm not sure ten was the magic number but now I love them too much so they are staying). Then the thought process was, "you know what, we already feed 60 animals why not get rabbits! Ten is a good number for rabbits, let's get ten!" We put all of the girls together so they could live in perfect rabbit harmony - oh that one chasing the others was a boy?!?!?!. Better get a few nesting boxes. Pet rabbits are fun but wouldn't ANGORA rabbits fit more into the plan for a Fiber Farm ? After all, we already have the nesting boxes - let's get Angoras!!! Did I mention I never did get rid of the pet rabbits?
I went from peaceful nights after work where, if I felt like it, an hour and a half spent making dinner could be an enjoyable experience. Now I am lucky if we get a frozen pizza and some nights it's just a piece of fruit and string cheese after pouring sweat, catching sheep, moving pastures, brushing dogs, cuddling lambs, feeding everyone, hauling water, giving shots, checking eyes, re-reading my Sheep book because I am in way over my head and need help, phoning a friend for advice, trimming hooves, and nearly skinning my foot to get my mud boots back off after all of that.
But let me tell you - it is worth it. When you witness your first lamb born, welcome it to the world, and see it get to it's feet five minutes later and stumble to a teat - that is a feeling you just can't replace. And months later when you sit down at your wheel and spin five pounds of Luna, Tilley, or Badger into a glorious yarn and remember every bead of sweat, tear, giggle, scratch under the head, cuddle, and enormous smile that brought that fleece to your lap from your animals you KNOW it was worth it. Each turn of the wheel helps craft a story that is personal and heartfelt and when you are finished you have a yarn that tells the story of that sheep, your farm, and your passion.
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