A Doug's Life: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night...

Call me naive, but I didn't think this sort of thing happened around here anymore.

Driving down Haun Road near the intersection of Garbani Road the other morning, I noticed people getting out of their cars, taking photos of something in the large wheat field there. Come to find out it was a flock of sheep -- hundreds of the critters -- grazing on what was left of the recent wheat harvest.

Pulling over and getting out of the car, I noticed a shepherd -- crook and all -- standing watch over the flock with his sheepdog nearby. Where was I -- Greece? Where were the three wise men? Even in good old Menifee -- Mayberry west, as I sometimes call it -- I had never seen this before.

Approaching the shepherd from behind, I was reassured this is the 21st Century when he turned around with a cell phone pressed to his cheek.

"Hello," I said.

The response: A smile.

"Where did all these sheep come from?"

Another smile.

"What's your name?"


"How do you spell that?"


OK, so we've established where this guy is from and the fact we have a language barrier. So I went to the universal language, pulling out my camera. He nodded and posed.

The sheep? Well, they were starting to notice me. After taking some long-range shots, I wanted to move in a bit closer. First, I got the evil eye. Do sheep charge? Doesn't matter. I have Saul and his sheepdog to protect me. But instead of rushing me, they started to wander off toward a bush that had more vegetation on it than the stubble of a recently harvested wheat field.

I learned later from local historian and longtime Menifee resident Betty Bouris that the wheat fields in that area are farmed by David Zeiders, descendant of a pioneer Menifee family. A couple times a year, after harvest time, he brings in a huge flock of sheep to act as lawnmowers. After they much on the remains the wheat thresher missed, Saul and his dog move them along to the next open field.

Saul stays on a trailer on the property and keeps watch on the animals by day and by night. The sheep -- usually brought in from Nuevo or Lakeside, said Bouris -- are carted off when the land is sufficiently cleared and ready to be plowed under for the next crop of wheat. Today, they're still out there, this time on the west side of Haun road. Stop by and say hello.

So now I know. After I've been a Menifee resident for a while, I guess this will become a familiar sight. For now, I feel a bit like I've been dropped in the middle of a travelogue somewhere in Europe or the Middle East.

And hey, no travel costs. Thanks, Saul.


  1. We have been here since 1989, the first time I saw them I was awaken one Sunday morning to the sound of baaahhha. I looked out my bedroom window and across the street in what is now the Ralphs shopping center. Hundreds of sheep. They moved them from there to the otherside of the freeway via newport rd. that morning. What a sight, I wish I had remembered my camera!!!

  2. I saw those sheep also with the shepherd. Amazing!