Shepherd Stories Gunda Jung
The Lower Oder Valley stretches out before the gates of Schwedt and here the eyes lavishes on vastness that is rarely found these days. The stillness of the landscape is impressive; this is the home of Gunda Jung a shepherdess for 26 years.
Before her training as a shepherdess, Gunda had no contact with sheep at all; she was actually a real city kid. At home, the family kept a few chickens and rabbits at most. However, she knew early on that she didn't want to learn a profession where she would be cooped up all day. She needed to be outside! Being a shepherd was of course, a wonderful choice and from the first time she stood in the barn, she knew/said, "Yes, this is it! And this is where I'm staying!"
The fact that she got an apprenticeship right away in 1983 was pure luck this is because being a shepherdess wasn't such a given path of profession for a girl back then, especially not if you weren't particularly tall. Everyone said it wasn't for her, but it is!
In her life she is surrounded by sheep; in addition to her employment in a sheep farm, she has been keeping her own flock privatively since 1991. This means that she adds an extra shift to her usual workday every day to care for her own sheep. In winter and spring, this is relatively relaxed, because the sheep are then in the pastures behind Gunda's home. She brings them a bale of silage and hay once a day, puts water in for them and checks on them. As soon as the grass has grown high enough, she brings her flock back out onto the dike.
"I ESPECIALLY LOVE DEALING WITH THE ANIMALS, THEY ALWAYS WAIT FOR ME. THEY ARE HAPPY WHEN I COME WHEN I HAVE BEEN OUTSIDE. I AM FREE; I CAN ORGANIZE MY WORK THE WAY I WANT I DON'T HAVE ANYONE STANDING NEXT TO ME ALL THE TIME. THAT'S JUST IT.
WHY POMERANIAN SHEEP?
Gunda met her first Pomeranian sheep in master school and fell head over heels in love with the breed. When she started spinning wool in 1989, her great wish was use wool from the Greywool Pomeranian Sheep. So she went in search for her own Pomeranian sheep.
"The first Pomeranian sheep I saw was a medium grey at the time. I didn't know the breed, nor could anyone tell me anything about it, except that they are very rare and native to Rügen. When I was finally able to buy a Pomeranian sheep at an auction after more than two years, it was a black one that turned silver-grey at some point. So I just started breeding, as I had an agenda. All I really wanted was a sheep that would give me grey wool so I could spin yarn out of it. But at that time I could only buy one 1b animal, because all the others were already gone. The one they left was actually too bad for me for just wool, because they are so rare and valuable. So I started breeding, which was never really my thing. In fact, I didn't want to."
Even today, she tries to breed her own medium grey sheep, but she still can't part with the rest. Although she has long since been unable to process a lot of wool herself, she is grateful for the now quite large flock. After all, she and her sheep are dedicated to maintaining the landscape and environment on the dike.
It is said of sheep that they have the "golden tread"; they tread the dikes firmly, which is not possible with mechanical care. The sheep annoy the voles because they constantly kick the dikes. As a result, the voles have a bit more work to do and at some point they crawl away and give up. Also, the browsing stimulates the turf to branch better to form more root mass so they can sprout again. The Pomeranian sheep cross breed also perform this task of treading the dikes.
Since the Pomeranian lambs do not really market well, Gunda has been crossing the ewes which already have plenty of female lambs.
Gunda would like to see better compensation in the future for the work she and her sheep do. The market value of a sheep is determined by the sale of wool and lambs for meat only. The sheep are more than just lambs and wool, the landscape and environment need the sheep. We live in a cultural landscape and some of them such as the dry grassland have been created by sheep. If more and more shepherds give up on this profession because keeping sheep is not profitable rendering them to have poor living conditions the landscape and the environment will be left unattended which leads to overgrown and unbalanced environment. The landscape needs to be maintained, and doing it traditionally and naturally works best.
"I acquired Pomeranians at that time because I wanted to make wool."