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Jackson Regenerational Farm: Growth is uncomfortable and How we wrangle an errant sheep

Last week the world changed. And while that change is far from being enough, it brought our consciousness back to an important topic. There has been so much inter-generational racial injustice in our world, in our country and in our state.

Nick and I have been taking the time to reflect, listen, learn and take meaningful (yet imperfect) action towards becoming better allies. We strongly believe that Black lives matter.

Life has been full here – there is so much going on right now on the farm– it feels as though there is not a moment to sit down to take a breath.

This is the most animals we have ever had. Taking care of the laying hens, the future laying hens, the lambs and fl-herd (see below for explanation), the compost, you – our customers, and deliveries. Not to mention the daily needs of a family and baby included.

I know that in today’s world we are taught that pain is not important. That we need to avoid pain and uncomfortable situations at any cost. So, at first this feeling of overwhelm can sneak up – “there’s so much to do” – “I can’t get to it all”.

We believe that pain and discomfort is an important part of our humanness. That’s where growth happens!

So, while we are growing and stretching to meet the needs and demands of our community we are reflecting upon the growth that needs to happen in our world today. We hold these thoughts while thinking about the importance of every human life and the importance of the soil and the importance of the health and well-being for our future and children’s futures.

The world feels scary right now - and painful- but from that pain growth will happen. Awareness will happen. Change will happen.

Our society teaches us that life is about being happy, we are being told to move away from discomfort. However, if we don’t move into that discomfort we won’t grow.

Our culture is in a huge growth spurt.

We think we need the discomfort of our world today to reach the huge goals that are possible.

And so as we travel these days of stewarding the land – moving the animals – for their health, your health and the earth's health – we know that the sweat and tears that we experience are reflective of the growth we need to do inside ourselves.

And as we reflect on the world, we know that the brokenness we feel inside with the world as it is now, is part of the journey.

What is it going to take to make the changes needed to reach those goals? And what feelings will come in the process?

Above I mentioned doing more than we ever have, part of that is having our fl-herd (another term for the multi species animals of a flock and herd.) In this fl-herd we have donkeys, sheep and cows -- we’ll get into this more in another email.

We are moving the animals twice a day- about every 12 hrs - to fresh ground and letting the land they have been on REST ← this is one of the more overlooked important parts.

Well our funny story for this week revolves around the fl-herd.

As I was setting up to pack eggs, I happened to look out the window and I saw donkeys and a few sheep and Farmer Nick running around the pasture. So, of course, I put my boots on and head out to help him. Olin is strapped to my back and I glance at our other two children and say “The animals are out.”

They know this as not only an important time to be a set of helping hands on the farm, but also as one of the forms of entertainment here. “The animals are out” could be synonymous with “grab some popcorn and let’s go enjoy the show - if you're lucky you'll get to be part of the rodeo too!”

So here I come with Olin, Emily and Maverick to help Farmer Nick herd the animals back towards where they need to be. If you’ve ever herded animals with another human being you’ll know how fun and confusing this can be.

Often people are known to say incomplete sentences like “grab the thing and move it” or “not there - there!!!” or “why are you doing that?!?!?

This often leads to huge miscommunications and mistakes in the field- but also humbleness that yes I too can get impatient and say the wrong thing when standing in the hot sun being bit by hundreds of black flies, mosquitoes, and deer flies and trying to see and say the right thing to do.

However, on this day the stars were aligned and we got all the animals into a side fence fairly easily. We decided that since some of the sheep that got out were sheep that we had wanted to sort, to just go ahead and see if we could separate them right there in the field.

These sheep were being a little too friendly for our liking, so separating them was like separating a PB and Jelly sandwich - kind of sticky.

Farmer Nick decided to easily grab one of the sheep and that left the spunky one for me. All I had to do (with my helpers in tow) was herd the sheep through an opening in the fence without letting more sheep in.

So I asked Emily to move this way and Maverick to move that way and then - BAM - the sheep did something silly and went the wrong way and got tangled in the fence. This was no problem - I was able to unwind him - but he was a feisty one, like I mentioned above. So as I lay on top of him, untangling him and trying to calm him down - I thought I'll just pick him up and carry him to the fencing area we want him in.

NOPE -- between the 20 something lb. sack of Olin on my back and trying to lift this heavy lamb -- I was not strong enough.

So Farmer Nick is still holding sheep 1 - I am now holding sheep 2 - and the fence is all mangled from when the sheep got twisted in it.

I start instructing the children to help unwind it and untwist it and put it back in the ground. Oh boy! I then realized that this would not be fixed without some help from the adults in the situation.

As we instructed Emily to go over and now shut the fence going into the other paddock so more sheep didn’t get out, I’m laying on the ground holding this lamb -- trying to be patient -- and decided the best thing to do was to take a selfie with the fiesty lamb - this gave me a minute to take a breath and capture the moment. Because yes remembering back on this day will provide hours of entertainment too.

This is where Farmer Nick came over to lend a hand to my cause. We were able to easily walk the sheep where we needed him and then I came back to fix the fence so Farmer Nick could get up and let his sheep go.

So yes we got the sheep sorted - and yes we were laughing about it all after - and yes we probably yelled something completely incoherent during the process - and yes we might have had to lay in manure for a bit - and yes everything turned out ok.

I’m really not sure what Olin (who is now 10 months old) thought of the whole thing but I think he actually fell asleep during part of the process.

We hope that your local community and local farmers are doing more than feeding you - we hope that your souls are feeling supported and encouraged. I think we truly need each other during these times and I am grateful we are on the journey with you.

We send you care, and hope you are well. If you need anything please reach out.

With care your farmers,

Nick and Sarah

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