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Jun 29, 2011
A shepherd does routine care like hoof trimming, worming, and shearing. These things are necessary for the health and well being of the sheep. Neglect these chores and the flock would be a very sorry sight indeed!

We live in a valley between two large hills. The ground is fertile, a rich black soil that will grow anything. If the dog buries a bone we have to dig it up before we have a whole skeleton. But that type of ground does nothing to wear down sheep hooves. Therefore, I have to pen and catch the sheep several times a year for hoof trimming.

This ritual involves setting the sheep upright on it's rump, securely planted between my two feet, leaned back against my knees, so that all four hooves are dangling out in front of me. Theoretically... this means I can grab one foot after another and trim off the long growth before releasing the animal back into the flock. In reality... it involves me struggling with an animal who may outweigh me, has popped an attitude, and has no interest in cooperating with my endeavor.

Our Shepherd prunes and trims us as well. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit." John 15:2

How often during the pruning process do we pop an attitude? How often do we have little or no interest in cooperating with His plans? I'm not commenting on the weight issue... not - going - there. :)
Jun 27, 2011
A shepherd tends to the sick and wounded animals in his flock. Sheep can find more ways to damage or injure themselves than any other critter the Good Lord ever created. (Perhaps He did that to make a point?) They are forever getting a head stuck in a feeder, a leg stuck in a gate, or eating something never intended to see the inside of a sheep.

I had one ewe who was uncommonly fond of sticking her head through the feeder and getting it stuck. She seemed content to wait for me to come to the rescue, only to resist my best efforts to free her. The more I pushed or pulled, the more she pushed or pulled in the opposite direction. These ovine (look it up!) tug-of-wars would end with her finally free and me bathed in sweat with at least two new scrapes somewhere on my body. Said ewe no longer resides at Twin Willows Farm.

Just because the shepherd knows what the sheep needs, doesn't mean the sheep understands that. Last winter our barn was invaded by a particularly nasty bacteria that causes mastitis. After the infection of one ewe and the infection and death of a second one, I knew we needed the big guns. I use antibiotics sparingly. In fact, I had to go purchase a new bottle as the one I had on hand was five years past date. But sometimes it's needed. Getting the sheep to understand that, however, is not possible. They only know that getting caught five days in a row and jabbed with a needle is not fun.

Our Shepherd cares for us as well. "But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall." Malachi 4:2

Sometimes the medicine is bitter and doesn't go down well. Sometimes the jab of the needle hurts. Sometimes the healing takes longer than we wish. But always He is taking care of us and giving us the strength to see it through... even when we can't see it or understand it.
Jun 25, 2011
A shepherd must provide certain necessities for his sheep every day. Adequate food, clean water, and shelter are as important for sheep as they are for humans. My fat wooly sausages have obviously received much more than simply adequate food, but I digress.

Food is important for all the obvious reasons, but it goes deeper than that. A good shepherd has to manage the feed intake for the season. Ewes who are pregnant or lactating require much more than a lazy old ram. Growing lambs need more feed than a lazy old ram. Hmm... what does a lazy old ram need anyway? In the fall when it's his season to work - he'll burn plenty of calories too! The shepherd has to provide what is needed when it is appropriate.

Shelter in the summer months consists of just a place to get out of the sun. When winter sets in, it's a whole different picture. The sheep need someplace to get out of the cold wind, a place clear of snow to lie down, and somewhere snug to drop those early spring lambs.

Our Shepherd provides for us as well. "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

The Lord knows when we need what we need. It's so easy to think that He's missed something because we think we need it. Trust the Shepherd.
Jun 23, 2011
My dear friend Claire asked me to do a 5-minute Bible Study on Jehovah-Rohi, the name of God that translates into "The Lord Our Shepherd". No problem... well... except maybe for that 5-minute part. So I decided to post my thoughts here on the blog in 7 installments, thus allowing me to blow that 5-minute restriction out of the water.

The name Jehovah-Rohi (pronounced ro-hee) is attributed to the 23rd Psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..." we all learned that one before we cut our second set of teeth. I'm going draw some comparisons between being a shepherd and what the scriptures tell us about our Shepherd.

I'll use the pronoun "he" to describe the shepherd, knowing full well that you, the gentle reader, will understand that a shepherd can be and often is, in fact, a "she". I trust my readers not to need a lot of he/she, him/her, his/hers nonsense to get the message.

On with the first installment!

A shepherd guards his flock against danger. There are numerous dangers that face sheep every day. Sheep, by their very nature, have no defenses. They are easy prey for practically anything passing by.

In our neck of the woods, that may be a coyote, a wandering dog, or even a bear. To protect my sheep from these outside invaders, we have invested a lot of time, money, and energy to install and maintain appropriate fencing. There is nothing like the zap of a few thousand volts of electricity to deter any of these dangers. But along with hot wires, we also have the sheep enclosed behind high-tensile woven fence.

Not all dangers come from without. As a shepherd, I also have to watch for things with which the sheep - being sheep - might hurt themselves on. When we first bought this place and fenced in the land, we spent hours and hours walking the pasture and removing bits of wire, odd pieces of metal, plastic trash, and other objects that a sheep might get hurt on.

The Bible tells us that God has put up fences and picked up objects for us as well. "But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." 2 Thessalonians 3:3.

The next time we find ourselves facing evil and feeling tempted, we should take a good look at where we are. Have we kept ourselves behind the God's fence? Or have we wandered off into the wilderness? His fence is still there and He has already cleared it of sin's debris through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jun 13, 2011
Second Chance RanchSecond Chance Ranch by Leann Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Leann Harris presents us with a good story of hope and struggle against the odds. Both main characters have their hurdles to climb and working together, they overcome them. It's a good, wholesome story, suitable for any age. Nothing surprising or unexpected, just a good "lawn chair" read for summer. It includes horses and cowboys... what else does one need?



Jun 9, 2011
Lydia's CharmLydia's Charm by Wanda E. Brunstetter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This Amish book takes on more weighty issues than most I have read. It's a melancholy read. Lydia faces so much loss and family angst at such a young age. Even though it has a good ending, it leaves the reader with a bittersweet aftertaste. It harbors a lot of real life within it's pages. I recommend it, it's a good book and carries a good message of hope even amid devastating loss.

I was pulled up short several times by the actions of the children in the story. The level of disobedience tolerated is not something that rang true for me. Living in an Amish community, I can't imagine any of my neighbors allowing their children to behave that way. The children in my neighborhood are incredibly polite and respectful.


Jun 5, 2011
Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time, #13; A Memory of Light, #2)Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Wow. The world Robert Jordan created has been further blessed by the talents of Brandon Sanderson. I marvel at the incredible job Mr. Sanderson is doing of continuing this series after Mr. Jordan's death. The characters are true. The storyline is consistent. The twists and turns are fascinating. And the pace and intensity are much improved.

This one doesn't wrap up the story - there will be a book fourteen - but it does wrap up several loose ends in a very satisfying way. I don't want to put out any spoilers for those who haven't read it yet, all 843 pages. I "saved" this one until I had a week off from work. I've had it on my bookshelf these past four and a half months. There are some books that require sufficient time to truly delve into. This is one of them.

My only disappointment is the amount of grammatical errors and typos in this book. I don't remember any of the previous Wheel of Time books having this many. Perhaps in the rush to get this book into print... someone cut a corner or two too many. The folks at Tor should know better!