While I was doing chores tonight a car pulled into the driveway. I did not recognize the vehicle, so I went to see who it was. It was a young family; dad, mom, 3 kids under the age of 5. They had seen the sheep grazing on the front lawn and just wanted to get a closer look. So, I started chatting with them. They have recently acquired 2 sheep and a couple dozen chickens. They had all kinds of questions; how often do you worm sheep? How do you keep your chickens safe from predators? How do you know if your sheep are bred? How long are they pregnant?

I answered as many of their questions as I could, gave them a few hints on things that have worked well for us. Some of their questions I did not know the answers to, so I recommended they try looking up on-line. Google is my friend. I often look up symptoms, questions about behavior, new potential food sources, and just general information about the sheep and chickens. They did not have internet access. OMG! I can’t imagine. I would be lost without it.

Taking on animals you have never cared for before can be a real trial. When they are behaving oddly, how can you know if it’s just a personality quirk or if there is something seriously wrong? How can you be sure what is safe for them to eat?  I always want to know about their basic physiology. When I was a kid we had cows. Any question I had about cows I would ask my dad. He learned from his grandfather, who learned from his father and on back through the generations. My sister learned about sheep from a neighbor then worked on a sheep milking operation.

But when you are a small operation, when there is no one right there to ask, what do you do? The internet, of course. 10, 15 years ago, it never would have occurred to me to find answers on-line. Now I don’t know what I would do without it. An invaluable tool our forebears did not have. A sign of the times.

I felt bad for the family. I’m kinda wishing I had gotten their names. If they live nearby I could have tried to get some information together for them. Of course, I did not think of it until they were already gone…

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