Whenever the stress of big-city living starts to wear us down—which seems to be happening an awful lot these days—we briefly fantasize about chucking it all in favor of life as a shepherd. We can trace this pipe dream back to our grade-school viewing of Fletch, in which Chevy Chase’s titular character facetiously replies “I’m a shepherd” to the main villain’s query regarding his occupation. Ever since, the pull of green mountains and woolly ruminant mammals has been awfully strong at times.
Alas, it turns out that shepherding may not be the enjoyably contemplative pastime we’ve long envisioned. In fact, according to this exposé, the job sounds downright terrible—at least way up in the Rockies:
They work seven days a week and are on call 24 hours a day, the survey found. In some cases they are miles from the nearest town, living in small, often shabby trailers with room only for a bed, a woodburning stove and 5-gallon water coolers.
Seventy percent of workers interviewed said they didn’t have a toilet and 54 percent said they had no electricity. Forty-two percent said their employers kept their passports and other documents and that they feared deportation if they complained about conditions…
“Based on what I know about the minimum wage, what they pay us is very little,” [Pepe] Cruz said as he drove one frigid day along the Wyoming plains spotted with snow and sagebrush, a rifle on the front seat of his truck for marauding coyotes.
Okay, so scratch “shepherd” off the dream-job list. Which bumps up our number-two choice in the “pastoral” category: falcon handler.