Our Iran road trip through north Iran’s Caspian Coast region included plenty of sightings of shepherds and their herds.
I romanticize the job of a shepherd. What could be better than spending the entire day outdoors? I’ve photographed dozens of Iranian shepherds I’ve encountered on the roads in Iran.
The shepherds, though, don’t see the job anywhere near as romantic. Seyyed Mahmud Abolghasemi of the village of Ghaleh Sar owns a herd of 200 sheep and goats in southeastern Mazandaran Province. He is on the village’s governing body. We met him on the sixth day of our escape from Tehran, near the Badap Soort Springs.
In his own words:
“The price of the sheep remains still while everything else goes up. Even for this land I pay ever-increasing rent.
“The good money is with the brokers. If I sell a sheep for 500,000, he sells it for 1M. But he makes his money in a single day. I have to suffer in the sun and the cold for a whole year for my share.
“There are wolves everywhere and the bears are in the mountains. The dogs do a good job of keeping them away.
Our Iran Road Trip > “The job that makes you old quick”
“This job makes you old quick. It’s tough. Your skin turns into leather in the sun. I inherited this work from my father. But I don’t want any of it for my kids. And for myself, I’m wishing for the opportunity to cash and in and move into the city.
“I have three sons. One is the military. He’s gone. Thank God. The youngest is in the seventh grade. He wants to be a teacher. I’m happy about that.
“But the middle son likes this lifestyle. He wants to be outdoors. He worries me.
Our Iran Road Trip > The effects of global warming in rural Iran
“The land is changing quickly. My father told me all these hills used to be covered with green. Not anymore. Now rivers and springs are drying up one after another. Right here used to be a flowing river.
“In the summer, the entire family moves to the yehlāgh (highland pasture) in the Alborz Mountains over there, in the clouds, where it is cooler. We walk the entire way.