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Stories from the valley


Contributed by Dan Macon

Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday.  Not only does it mark the unofficial beginning of my favorite season (winter) – for me, it’s a day to consciously reflect on all the things (big and small) that I’m grateful for.  The food isn’t too bad, either!

This year, I want to do a simple list of all that I’m thankful for.  I’m a lucky man!

I’m thankful for my family – immediate and extended.  I’m thankful for my wife Sami and my daughters Lara and Emma, who put up with my long hours and who help care for our sheep.  I’m grateful that I get to do the work of farming with my girls and my wife.  I’m thankful for my extended family – my parents, my sister and her family, and others – who have supported our farm and our family over the past year.

I’m thankful for the community of farmers that I have the privilege to be part of.  I’m grateful than I can use “neighboring” as a verb – that I have farming colleagues who help me (and whom I can help) without any official accounting for hours spent.  I’m especially thankful for the older generation of farmers and ranchers who have shared their wisdom, experience and humor with me.  I’m lucky to have such friends.

I’m grateful that I get to work outside nearly every day.  I’m thankful for the sights, sounds, smells and experiences that come with working outside.  Sometimes when I’m working in 100+ degree heat or biting cold, I’m not has thankful as I should be!  Nonetheless, I’m fortunate to be out in the world day-in and day-out!

I”m grateful for the food that will be on our table on Thanksgiving – and for the food that graces our table everyday.  I’m especially grateful to the people who do the work of growing our food.  I’m so fortunate to count many of the farmers and ranchers who produced our Thanksgiving meal as colleagues and friends.

Macon 1

I’m thankful for my dogs.  Somebody told me that there are no great shepherds without great dogs.  I aspire to be the great shepherd my dogs deserve!  My border collies amaze me daily with their intelligence, heart and stamina.  My livestock guardian dogs make it possible for my sheep operation to coexist with coyotes and mountain lions.

Macon 2

I’m thankful for my sheep.  They are the reason I get to work outdoors everyday!  I’m grateful for the quiet moments during the year when I can just watch my sheep graze.  I’m thankful for the opportunity experience new life first hand.

As the weather grows colder, I’m thankful for wool!  I’m thankful for all of the people between the shearer and the seamstress that make wool clothing possible!  I’m grateful to my Dad for passing down the Pendleton shirts that no longer fit him!

I’m thankful that I live in a time and place where my freedom to express myself, to worship (or not) in the place and way of my choosing, and to elect my representatives are protected.  I often take these freedoms for granted.  I’m thankful for the men and women through history who have fought and died for these freedoms.

I’m thankful to be sitting in front of a computer with a roof over my head and a fire in the woodstove as I write this post.  And I’m especially thankful for the rain that is falling this afternoon!

I’m grateful….