My kids and my husband recently visited his family for Thanksgiving while I stayed behind to care for my animals and for the animals at Juniper Moon Farm while Susan and Emily were with family. Don’t worry! I had a lovely and relaxing dinner with my parents, who live nearby.
What is interesting about this set-up is that it was left to Paul to tell everyone all about our new animals and small farm.
Y’all, the animals and farming are aaaalllllll me. Paul doesn’t know a whole lot about the animals or their care. He just knows I love it and supports me however he can.
So it slipped past him (but not my kid) when a certain family member remarked that sheep are “stinky and gross”.
I would like to know how someone who has spent their entire life in cities would know anything about this. My guess is that what she knows comes from factory farms and misinformation. My other guess is that because this is the same family member who has done nothing but snub and insult me since marrying into the family that she was just being snarky.
Either way, I am going to clear this up, right now.
Sheep are NOT stinky and gross.
Sheep are sweet, friendly creatures that are happiest lounging in the grass, chewing on some hay, enjoying each other’s company. They will nuzzle you and follow you around the pasture if they know you.
Since all they eat is vegetable – based, their waste is pretty compact and odorless. It makes fantastic compost.
You want stinky sheep? You’d have to have them overcrowded in a muddy lot or barn with no fresh grasses or hay and not a lot of fresh air. And even then, it’s the accumulation of their waste products that is stinky, not the sheep itself. A healthy sheep (or any livestock) operation has none of the kinds of malodorous disasters that so many people seem to associate with livestock these days. Trust me – we don’t want our animals in that kind of bad shape any more than you do!
These kinds of misconceptions are harmful to us small farmers and hobbyists, because it is people with these beliefs that tend to want to live in the country but don’t want to be near any country animals. In other words, subdivision dwellers who don’t like the small farm next door. They are also the ones with the lobbying powers who push people like me out.
This is also the reason why people can have as many dogs as they want – some the size of small horses, for goodness sake – but bring home a goat and people lose their minds.
Compared to dogs, most livestock are cleaner, quieter, and less prone to trouble. When was the last time you heard of a pack of sheep roaming the neighborhood, tearing into your garbage? And let me tell you – dog poo is far more foul than sheep’s and goats’. Not only that, but can your dog provide you with fresh eggs, or milk or wool? But for some reason, multiple dogs and cats roaming everywhere are okay. I love my cats and dogs to the moon and back, but I understand they are not the only game in town pet – wise.
The other side of this that is sad is that those same dogs are among the top predators of rural livestock. And I don’t mean wild dogs (though they are a big threat, no doubt) – I am talking about peoples’ pets. And because most people don’t understand that sheep can make just as lovely pets for a family as dogs, sympathy generally lies with a dog owner when tragedy strikes and someone’s roaming lab hurts some sheep.
My point in all of this is that before you make an assumption, before you open your mouth or take action based on what you think you know: just double check. It doesn’t hurt to be sure you are right before suggesting the rest of us follow along with you.
And one more thing: it’s the chickens that are the stinky ones.