Animals Make Us Human

July 13, 2014  •  1 Comment

One Sunday morning near the end of winter I was working on my second cup of coffee and perusing the newspaper when I ran across a story about a woman named Sharon Krause.  Buried in the story was a brief mention that she raises sheep at her Dalla Terra Ranch in Dallas County, Iowa.  I had been looking for an operation with sheep to photograph and time and money restrictions needed that operation to be close to my home...it was a perfect fit!  So, I sent her a message and she welcomed me to her ranch.  I visited Sharon on a sunny, late spring day when the fields were bursting with new baby lambs (and I am pretty sure these were the cutest lambs ever to exist).

Sharon’s Dalla Terra Ranch is 150 acres of gently rolling Iowa prairie paradise for the ewes and lambs she raises.  The thick Iowa pasture provides all of the nutrition that the animals need to remain healthy and strong so she is able to fully raise her sheep at pasture. 

When I first arrived, I watched as Sharon worked with some bottle babies that she was teaching to feed themselves. 

From there I rode along as she did a pasture check, making sure all of the sheep were doing fine.  As we finished in the first pasture and headed into the second, Sharon ran across a weak lamb.  At that moment I saw the same compassion and concern that has been at the heart of every FarmHer and RanchHer I have photographed.  Whether the farm has one or one thousand head of livestock, it is their duty to care for the animals. When the animals are sick or get injured, it hurts.  And I tend to think it hurts FarmHers and RanchHers just a little bit more. 

As we moved on to the last pasture for the day, Sharon went inside the fence to give a good pet to one of her trusted sheep dogs, Bo.  This is one of my favorite pictures because almost every farm or ranch comes with a much loved dog, and I was lucky enough to capture that bond between Sharon and Bo. 

As we wrapped up the day, we drove through the pasture, past the sheep sorting area and back to the barn.  I was reminded to ask Sharon about her sheep sorting system that I had read about on her website.  It was designed by the world famous Temple Grandin and I wanted to know more about how that came to be.  The story is simple.  Sharon admired Dr. Grandin’s work.  Dr. Grandin was speaking near Des Moines so Sharon reached out to her and asked her to come to the ranch to help her design a system for her sheep.  And Dr. Grandin came.  Now Dalla Terra has a sorting system for the sheep that allows the animals to move through quietly, without the agitation and fear that comes with more traditional sorting systems.  Yet another example of that care and concern that permeates through the FarmHers and RanchHers I have met, and the millions more I haven’t.  

Take a few minutes to check out the entire gallery of my visit to Dalla Terra Ranch on the FarmHer website.

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