Any farmer can tell you that any kind of agricultural employment is not a glamorous one. Ghosts on a Mountain, a short doc which will debut with a Texas Premiere at Thin Line, shows the hidden lifestyle of migrant workers who tend sheep in the American West.
When employers advertise for help and no one responds, they rely on migrants to fill the positions. Most employers are asking for help doing something they themselves have done for years. Their farming has grown from a father/son operation to needing additional labor. Migrant workers, mostly Latinos, often work the fields so that grocers can have a full bounty of fruits and vegetables. Much of the labor require long hours of bending over in not so favorable climates. But some Latinos opt for more scenic employment in places like the mountains of Utah, though that lifestyle can tend to be a more lonely one.
The opening scene of the short shows the beautiful landscape that is part of the sheep herder's daily view. It looks so peaceful that we can almost smell the fresh the air. The beautiful scenery brings silence and the herders we soon meet contemplate the difficulty of adjusting to the loneliness. The herders reminisce of their families, life back home and their desire to one day return to them.
The humbleness of each sheep herder surprised me, each living in a small camper provided by their employer. They don't complain about their work, or the circumstances in which they live. Instead they focus on the family they are supporting back home. Their lonely employment ensures their children a better education and different career path.
Visitors are scarce so conversations only happen with their horses and sheep dogs. When herders feel lonely after a phone call to their families or when poor service prevents them from communicating at all, the sheep dogs are their sole comfort. They were my favorite characters in the doc. Even though I am aware of the intelligence and capabilities of Border Collies, it was quite amusing to watch them obey commands given in Spanish.
This is isn't a political documentary though it at one point discuses the documentation status of one individual. I felt that this doc gave more insight of what the American farmer faces and the people they rely on to continue to survive.
Ghosts on a Mountain will show at the Campus Theatre on February 19 at 6 p.m. and is part of Shorts Compilation #1. To purchase tickets or passes, visit The Online Box Office.