Dear Curiosity Journal, 

Becoming a shepherdess, tending this little starter flock, is one of the most enriching experiences on the farm for me. Forming a bond with the sheep is drastically different from raising pigs or chickens who have a decided butcher date. One-season relationships are more matter of fact. Emotional attachments are intentionally kept rolled up under the ribcage, names are not given, and would only be a hindrance to the emotive conundrum of being both caregiver and killer. As one mother explained to her young daughter who was curious about what happens to the pigs (suggesting we should let them die of old age), “Being a farmer is tricky ”. However, spending multiple seasons establishing relationships with animals, who in ideal circumstances could live a long life on the farm and die of old age, runs deeper into the heart, much more like the fondness for a dog, like falling in love with a puppy in hopes that you can spend nearly two decades together. Clearly, it’s more complicated than that and farmers often deal with illness, injury, birth fatalities, and culling decisions, which can build a sort of callous, a toughness, like the bottom of a bare foot after a long summer outside, hardened by the sharp edges of the land – not a bad thing, sort of a necessity, and seasoned way of embracing the full scope of the natural world. Reflecting on this, sharing my GoMacro bar with Betty, I conclude that I’m still a rookie, a softy with so much to learn, fully in love with the flock, poised to have my heart broken, but steadily committed to this pastoral path. Being a farmer is tricky, indeed.