Not so Merry Christmas, so far but looking up I think

I hope everyone else’s Christmas is much more merry than ours!

My Coffee grinder went tits up, the boiler that provides hot water and the house heat blew up (looks like the controler board fried) a pump for the solar hot water system also went tits up and both of us are sick with terrible coughs. But like shepherds of yore we still have to watch over our sheep. Had to move hay today and feed everyone. Thankfully there is some snow so we don’t have to also chop a hole in the ice to pump drinking water for them. It’s a good thing the sheep both taste good and provide nice wool. They can take a lot of effort to care for properly when the shepherd is under the weather.

On the good side, sheep are all doing well and I’m catching up on paperwork since with our coughs we eliminated all the Christmas parties we might have gone to. :wink:


Here’s a like to express solidarity. Hope things get better.

I thought you were talking about sheep metaphorically but nope apparently actual sheep. Merry Christmas and hope things improve for you!

yep actual sheep

here are the 2018 ram lambs chowing down on their Christmas dinner

and here are some of the ewes in the breeding pens

The ram in front is Tiberius


Hearing from a real shepherd on Christmas Day is so delightful. I sincerely hope things improve for you. One of your blessings is the beauty of nature you enjoy each day.


That is true. Sometimes I have to remind myself to look up at theb beauty rather than always down at the tasks in front of me. Thanks!


All the best as you watch over your flock!

Hope you get better and that the tech glitches cease!!

I grew up on a small farm and remember knocking holes through ice, dragging feed on sleds through the snow, etc.

This explains why I am in Houston now and 50 degrees F and below are darn cold to me now! :slight_smile:

Get well soon!

1 Like

Thank you for the excellent photos and I hope you had a great Christmas despite early setbacks!

@MacSparky you HAVE to get this guy as a guest on MPU! Make a nice change from the podcasters, software developers and writers.


Farmers are nothing if not optimists. Today woke up to several more inches of snow. Which is good news given our drought. More white now means more green grass next summer and more happy little lambs. Of course my husband will have to plow the driveway again so the plumber can get in to see about fixing the boiler so we get some heat in the house.

I’m not a guy but I am a software developer (Android, for my LambTracker system), bad programmer, good database designer and sometimes writer, just not published in the fiction area. I am a co-author on some sheep research papers though. Here’s one Sheep AI Research paper

My husband is working on this project Use of FLIR (Forward-looking Infrared Imaging Systems) for Detection of Ovulation in Sheep In fact we need to re-up our cooperative agreement on that one to continue.


Glad some are. I just read this article from last week and it seems dairy farmers at least are not having a good year/decade.

Life is crazy sometimes isn’t it?! I did a funeral last Friday and I have another one this Friday (same family :frowning:). I appreciate your salt of the earth demeanor. Reminds me of my army time lol. Complain in a fantastic fashion with great language and then drive on and find the positive in the trash. Hope today is better and your 2019 is better yet.

Lots of folks in the same boat. OTOH if the consumer wants it there are thousands of farmers willing to provide. I’m in an area where there are young, college educated couples and individuals just scrambling to get access to land to farm. Issues with stupid food laws and problems with the aging farmers whose only retirement income is the potential sale of the farm land at high prices where it usually goes to developers or megafarms limit their access. But there are signs of changes. Locally there is a lot of optomism if we can just get the government regulators the heck out of our way. Joel Salatin has many good ideas and so do other folks in the alternative ag arena.

rant on
Every consumer can make a difference. You make a choice in how rural America will survive every time you buy food or naturally grown fiber. If you want increased feedlots, mega factory farms etc. then by all means buy the lowest cost food items, buy things shipped out of season from around the world and buy pre-made ready to eat foods. If you want regenerative agriculture, increased carbon storage, vibrant rural towns filled with people and careful stewardship of public natural resources then buy from the smaller farmers. Budget more of your income for food, and take classes or ask the farmer if you are unsure how to cook it. Buy a whole hog, or sheep or half a beef direct from the producer. Join a CSA or buy from neighbors, or start a community garden and share the produce. Petition your lawmakers to eliminate the barriers to selling locally produced food. Eliminate the requirements for government oversight on slaughter, food handling mandates etc for farms with smaller production volumes. Make us label the source so the consumer knows but don’t require a half million dollar investment just to be able to sell 10 sheep a year to a restaurant! We aren’t the source of food contamination issues, big aggregators are. Besides, even if everything we did produce was bad it would only affect a small number of people. I’ve never produced as much meat from all species in my entire lifetime as the latest beef contamination problem! Make the rules the same for all species. I sell sheep so I am bound by USDA slaughter regulations and inspection rules that add $5/lb to the cost of my meat but my neighbor who sells yaks or the one that sells rabbits or the elk farmers are not required to do any of that.

You all have a choice, rural America depends on every consumer making wise choices in your food.
rant off

1 Like

On my list! I’d love to have a farmer guest.

1 Like

This is awesome, apart from the bit about the boiler needing to be fixed. In case you didn’t catch it, here’s another mixture of sheep and tech:


I keep threatening to “borrow” my husbands GoPro camera and put it on some of the sheep for a sheep’s eye view but he says that they are too likely to break it. Probably true but it would still be fun. Maybe this year I’ll get my own inexpensive one and attach it to a collar. That system has been used on some guardian dogs to track how they handle wolf and grizzly bear threats as part of a study in WY on livestock guarding dogs. A dangling collar is less risky than a back mounted camera.

I’d really like to have one showing the rams view when they are bashing but it would take a REALLY rugged device to handle the shock and that’s even assuming the rams don’t hit the camera with their horns.

I was watcing a National Geographic or Nova special that had a wildlife photographer who built special cameras and mounts for wild animals. One was on a Meercat I would thnk that there ought to be a way to do more with them on sheep but that is yet another whole project.

Ha I think the gopro would be fine. I mean they drop out of planes and stuff. That’ll be some footage whenever it happens.

1 Like

I’ll be sure to let MPU know if it ever happens :wink:


Can’t speak for rural America. What I see in my country is more and more “bio” shops and markets opening everywhere. Noteworthy also the resistance to the TTIP agreement which would have introduced the lower American standards for food into the EU.
As for meat, I chose years ago to not buy any of it at the supermarket (cheap industrial, factory crap) and instead order a (relatively) expensive locally-sourced steak once in a while. At home we moved away from meat, not only because I don’t want to eat than stuff, but also because my girlfriend is a vegetarian,which pretty much makes me a vegetarian (“Pulp Fiction” quote). The illusion of getting a $1 piece of meat which is even near healthy, sustainable and humane…is an illusion. So, top of the notch locally-sourced steak for me once a month and I am golden.
That’s where I completely agree with your “every customer can make a difference” statement.