In Spirit

My friend Kelli recently asked what inspires me, and I have to say, without question, it is people who love what they do.  They are passionate, kind, interesting, and interested.  They don’t need a lot of positive strokes telling them they are doing the right thing because they already know it.  Today’s post is a perfect example of this.

Meet Ben and his beef cow Celeste (though he calls her Tank, for good reason). Gregory and I met them last week at the Oregon State Fair’s 4-H Competition (head, heart, hands, and health – being a city girl, I didn’t know this).  Ben had just finished showing his lamb.  Ever curious girl that I am, I asked him about her, and was so excited when I got the dollar lecture and tour.  Here’s what I learned:

* Not all sheep make the same kind of wool.  A meat sheep, like Ben’s, has wool that is more suitable for a carpet.  It cannot be spun into the wool we like for sweaters.  Also, it can be very cost prohibitive to sell the wool for carpet, unless someone nearby makes it.  Bummer.

* Sheep do not have top teeth.  They only have teeth on the bottom, and their adult teeth come in kind of slowly (for an animal), only two per year, starting at the middle front.  Once all of the teeth are in, it is about time for slaughter because the other teeth are badly damaged from so much gnashing and tearing at grass, especially if the sheep lives in a dry climate where the soils are harder.

* Both sheep and cows have four stomachs and chew their cud.

* I also learned that a cow can gain up to a thousand pounds in a year! That’s a lot of food!

* Both sheep and cows are really soft, and so warm that petting them made my palms sweat.

I felt so privileged to learn from someone like Ben.  He was easy going with a good sense of humor, yet very well spoken and already a great asset to the farming community where he lives.  I have no doubt his life will be filled with success.

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