I was recently inspired to share some books in my collection. It never occurred to me to do such a thing until I was reading a post from Tim Miller, – Classic Jam Hits – in which he shared some books from his collection that caught my attention. Being a shepherd is (for a few days more), one of the most interesting an enlightening things I have done. I can’t exaggerate how the experience has changed my whole perspective of the world, society, people, religion, and more. I grew up in the city and didn’t start farming until I was more than forty years old.
I won’t try and explain all of that but I will say that these books (and others I will share in forthcoming posts) helped me to understand that animal husbandry has had a profound effect on all peoples and nations and how devastating the corporate takeover of this part of our society has been. Some would argue that corporate practices and technology has served to increase food production many times over. I would rebut that you may not really understand just what is being produced, its quality, and the actual cost of production. There is plenty of information on the net supporting this so I won’t go into it here.
These books are old and that is the best thing about them. They were written before the time of corporate agriculture. You don’t have to read more than one book to discover that animal husbandry practices today are in sheer conflict with what was done for many hundreds of years. The apparent contradictions make no sense until you factor in the profit motivations of the current way of raising animals. Unfortunately, enough generations have adopted these conventions that to return to a better, more humane and more sustainable way would require temporary sacrifices that the general population would rebel against. No worry though as the present power structure would never let that happen.
Shearing our flock was one of the most frustrating aspects of raising sheep. No books on that here. Shearing is fast becoming a lost art in this country. Over the years we have dealt with a few men who do this and they were quite old and had no apprentices. Some years we could find no one and I bought some electric shears and tried my hand at it. I found them online for a lot less than the well known name brand and they were essentially the same thing without the brand label and perhaps even manufactured in the same place. When I was finished the flocked looked just like one would expect if an amateur with no experience had sheared them. The people I hired for this chore when I could had sheared tens of thousands of sheep and could do in a few hours what took me the whole summer.