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Hoof trimming and Santa Cruz Island sheep in literature - sort of

posted Nov 20, 2015, 4:04 PM by Lynn Moody
We spent parts of two days trimming the hooves of our Santa Cruz Island and Navajo-Churro ewes, wethers, and ewe-lambs, just finished it this afternoon.  Thirty-two sheep.  What a relief to get that done at the start of the rainy season.  We have three more rams to do - a couple weeks ago our good friend Craig helped us trim the hooves of most of the rams, thank you, Craig! - and we still have to do the ram-lambs.  A couple or few more days' work on that.

One of my favorite fiction books is Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin.  This book is a fictional anthropological study of a people called the Kesh, who live in post-holocaust northern California.  Among other activities, the Kesh raise sheep and spin and weave.  Le Guin describes the sheep, which in many ways sounds like Santa Cruz Island sheep:  "The several strains of Valley sheep were all derived from crossing "foreign" breeds...a small compact animal with loose, fine wool,..."  and "The sheep was not a symbol of passive stupidity and blind obedience as it is to us (and indeed the Valley sheep were both athletic and wily), but rather was regarded with a kind of affectionate awe, as an intrinsically mysterious being."  Both of these partial quotes are from the "appendices" near the end of the book, pages 439 and 440 in my paperback copy.

I certainly find our sheep to be athletic and wily, and I do indeed regard them with affectionate awe!
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