This is a rather long-winded tale, but worthy of someone’s blog, so it might as well be mine.
Our resident farmer, David Flaughers, pastures 40 goats and sheep on Fake Rock Farm. He practices rotational grazing (see above bucolic scene) by moving them every day or so onto new grass, using a temporary solar-powered electric fence, which keeps the beasts corralled as they munch fresh greenery. That is, until the goats go looking for greener pastures.
In early July, our son, Henry Gretzinger, was visiting the farm with his girlfriend, Hana Cheng, for his 30th birthday, and Jerry decided to bake cream puffs for the birthday dessert. I was on duty for salad and marinating the chicken, when I glimpsed a few errant goats and sheep out the kitchen window. We ran out with our trustee canine assistants, Sugar and Spots, and started to corral the flock before they got into the garden or worse, the road. After calling David in a panic and finding out he was 30 minutes away, Jerry remembered his cream puffs in the oven and vowed to return, after he put in a second batch. So I was elected to secure the perimeter with a couple of talented doggies and clogs on my feet. That’s it.
The goats soon discovered the feed buckets atop the mobile chicken tractors and in going for the feed, just about trampled the poor hens cowering beneath. While I was manically shooing the goats off the roof to avoid squished chicken dinner, I noticed one sheep who’d polished off a bucket of feed and gotten it stuck on her head, blindly zig-zagging the 20 acres between the woods and the road. Naturally, all the sheep followed their leader!
Jerry did return about 15 minutes later, with his idea of helpful tools: a rake and a cell phone, and disappeared again into the kitchen, muttering about burning dessert.
I’m finally rescued by a couple of our dinner guests, who arrived on time and spotted me out in the pasture waving my rake wildlly. Minutes later, farmer David showed up on his bicycle and took control. I collapsed at the kitchen table, and watched our guests take over dinner preparation.
We had a lively supper conversation at the picnic table, one of the topics, amidst the twenty and thirty somethings, being Sheryl Sandburg’s book, Lean In. I thought this very apt, though I’m sure Sheryl never thought her leadership principles would be applied to female herders. But in retrospect, having read the book, I’m sure Sheryl has run into a number of corporate hot shots whose style of leadership parallels the sheep brandishing a bucket over its head, with a flock of unquestioning followers at their hooves (I mean heels).
The cream puffs were perfect.
Here is Henry, Hana and Jerry that fateful evening: