Counting Sheep

By Janet Koed

If your mind is taking you to dark places as you drift off to sleep, try counting sheep. About a week ago, I took a break from making fabric masks for my daughter and her coworkers in a local health care facility. I’d heard about the sheep grazing up on Elings hill and decided I would go take a look. It was easy to keep my distance from families who were marveling at these woolly wonders. There were moms, dads and baby sheep, about 275 of them including newborns, gnawing on green vegetation and helping the neighborhood with fire prevention.  The scene was idyllic and I felt transported to the French countryside. I’ve been up there about every day since.

On my solo vacation up to Elings Sheep Hill, I met some of the folks who are running Cuyama Lamb. Jack, the shepherd, told me that about 400 sheep are currently residing at Orella Ranch on the Gaviota Coast between weed abatement gigs. I work for Gaviota Coast Conservancy so Jack, his dog Ada and I had an immediate bond. I went home and looked up to discover that Jack and his partner, Jenya, are running an operation that is well aligned with sustainable agricultural goals of Gaviota Coast Conservancy. I encourage you to go to their website and learn about how they support integrated crop management, ecological restoration, production of ethical food and fiber. 

Next, I did some Facebook research to find that Cynthia Whalen had some great video of the “Gaviota” sheep being herded back and forth on Calle Real by Orella Ranch. After seeing that, I had to call Jack at Cuyama Lamb and find out where the sheep might be going next. They will soon be leaving Elings in search of greener pastures at Arroyo Hondo. Last I heard, Arroyo Hondo was encouraging self-guided hikes on the first and third full weekends (mornings and afternoons) and on Mondays and Wednesdays (mornings). Check out their website at or call them at 805-966-4520 for updates on trail access during these unusual times.  Reservations are required.

Be well and make sure your outings are solo or in responsible groups. Those sheep are a reminder that life goes on during challenging times and that spring is in the air! There is an abundance of beauty out there.

Scroll to Top