Thursday, March 23, 2023

What enabled Ce'Diff?

Ce'Diff is an interesting character because there are great, thundering herds of people just like her and the existence of even a single one is a curiosity. Where did they come from? What changed in the environment?


We raised sheep for about a decade. Being frugal, I decided that I wanted to do a GREAT job and be profitable. So I read a great deal. Two of the resources at the time were e-lists GRAZE-L and SHEEP-L.

One of the writers sketched out how sheep get a reputation as being fussy, fragile beasts that are unprofitable.

Picture in your head a small, hobby-flock in the eastern part of the US. Perhaps the shepherd chose an exotic breed thinking that the premium prices for breeding stock will off-set some of the lost economies-of-scale.

Some of the ewes, perhaps 20%-to-40% of them will have difficulties lambing and caring for their young. That would not be uncommon for ewes the first-time they lamb, especially if they are over-fed. The shepherd bottle-feeds the lambs. Maybe a ewe dies. The children insist that "Fluffy" be kept as the replacement. She is almost family.

In seven years, most of the ewes are former bottle-babies. They did not receive "mothering" from their mothers so it is a moot-point whether "mothering" is genetic (didn't get it from there) or imprinting (or from there). The flock has become incredibly labor intensive and requires much, expensive milk-replacer as the majority of the lambs need human intervention to survive.

Compare that to commercial flocks in Texas, the Dakotas and Montana. The ewes crank out singles and twins with almost no human intervention. If the mother does not do a good job, the lamb dies. If the ewe loses both of her lambs, she is culled. No drama. Just put onto a trailer and shipped off.

I propose that we have so many Ce'Diff clones because our institutions have become exactly like the hobby farmer with his/her flock of pet sheep. The management bonded with their trouble-makers instead of doing the rational thing and freeing them to find employment or educational opportunities (like earning a GED after accumulating some scar tissue) that were more suited to their temperaments.


  1. You are not wrong, ERJ. I suspect in the coming economy, things like this that formerly would have been tolerated will put such individuals at a higher likelihood to "seek other opportunities". In a down market, the last thing anyone has time for is employees that first and foremost will not pull their own weight, followed closely by those that continually generate drama.

  2. Great statement of one of the baseline problems using a great analogy.
    Boat Guy

  3. Helicopter parents whose kids ALL WIN participation awards, and Helicopter Sheep Herders do seem to have the same issues.

    Non-viable offspring.

    Decades of protecting folks from their anti-social behaviors (even the minor ones like politeness) has generated troublesome folks that feel entitled to all the wealth and prestige but none of the work or responsibility it requires.

    Or as some wag said "Good times make weak people, Weak people create hard times" and so on.

    Like bottle fed sheep sold to a slaughterhouse, the hard times are near.

  4. I feel like the participation trophy phenomenon was a big part of it. Those kids never learned how to lose, gracefully. The positive encouragement idea has its issues, but in general is supportive but still realistic. A trophy is the emblem of a winner, when you give one to the loser, you remove the win, and the loss. Achievement is not rewarded (thus suppressed), and failure carries no consequences.
    ... pretty parallel to the workforce nowadays, ain't it? No drive or desire, just enough to pass, indifference towards failures.
    I am also a huge believer in intramural sports - playground 2.0. You learn team work and more 'good sportsmanship' type things, more complex dynamics than just win=trophy. Bajillions of kids play video games all day instead. Now they are obese losers with no coordination, group skills, weak self image, and delusions of performance ability... forget a 'manager' rising to the top of the team (aka elected captain).

  5. When you accept bad or non-productive behavior, you are rewarding it instead of eliminating it. What you incentivize, you get more of.

  6. Don't forget how Disability and Minority assistance has morphed over time from a good and useful thing to a hindrance on both employers and the people it was supposed to help.

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