Grit Blogs > Ag and Culture

Nine Lessons of a Shepherd Intern

Number 9 – It is possible to back up a large truck with a sheep cage in the back down a very narrow dirt road without bringing harm on truck, person, animal or environment (you do end up with sweaty palms though).

Backing up the truck 

Number 8 – Setting up electric fence in parched, rocky earth takes a long time, a mallet, a good hat and some personal fortitude.


Number 7 – A tired shepherd and a determined intern can lift a large, sick ewe up a hill and into a truck – just barely.

Number 6 – An unexpected ladybug colony at first appears creepy, but makes your heart smile when you realize they are gentle ladybugs and not giant, pinching ants.


Number 5 – Blackberry bush stalks continue to reach out to rip your skin and clothes to shreds, even after sheep have relieved them of their leaves.

Number 4 – Crowding sheep remind me of what it feels like at the Outside Lands concert.


More than one similarity to sheep

Number 3 – Very important – DON'T open the gate unless you know the plan or Dan the shepherd tells you it's ok.

Number 2 – If you open said gate without a plan or ok and sheep make a run for the hills, two clever border collies and a confident shepherd can fix your mistake pretty quick.

Number 1 – Farming is an incredibly difficult profession that at times offers very little reward.

This weekend felt like a dose of reality to mix in with my idealized farming ambitions. Farming is physically, mentally and emotionally taxing and doesn't always provide the financial return desired for time, effort and labor put in. I can't help wondering, am I cut out for this? Can I be successful at this? Should I scale down my aspirations?

By late summer most small farmers in this area are run ragged from a long, hot season of watering, feeding, protecting and harvesting whatever their farm is producing. We can show our support for them by buying from them at farmers markets, sure, but what are some more ways we can show support and appreciation for our local farmers? The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op has a program to raise money for local producers and to preserve future farmland; it's called Once Farm at a Time. If any farmers are reading, what are some ways in which you would appreciate support from your community?