The Shepherdess

Since Tuesday I wrote about my childhood home, I thought I would write about how I grew up on a farm.

When I was about 10 years old, my dad worked with a guy who raised sheep.  This man invited us to come and visit his farm.  So, Me, my Dad, Mom, and Sister loaded into our big green van and were off.  I remember that it was cold, so we mostly stayed in the barns.  We walked past pen after pen of Ewes (female sheep) and their cute, fluffy little lambs. The man explained to us that when the Ewes had more than two lambs they weren’t really able to take care of them, so they would probably die if we didn’t take them home with us.  This was most definitely a dirty trick. Me and my sister, being little girls, looked up at our dad and said “We can take one home, can’t we daddy? We can’t let them die”.  And that was the start of our farming career.

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Both of my parents grew up in town. Neither of them had ever raised any kind of livestock before.  When we got home, my dad build a pen in our garage and filled it with straw.  Because there were two of us, me and my sister, of course we ended up with two lambs, a male and a female.  Since they were still young, we had to bottle feed them every few hours, just like a baby.  I should say my mom had to since she was mostly the one who took care of them.

As they grew, my dad realized that they would no longer fit in our garage. So, he build a fence on the side of our machine shed.  My dad had always wanted to live on a farm, so he decided that, since we had a male and female, we might as well breed them.

My Sheep Raising Family
My Sheep Raising Family

I almost forgot that we named the lambs. Mary was the female and she belonged to my sister and Chip (like chocolate chip) was mine.  Mary was very sweet.  She was never able to have lambs, but she grew to be a huge pet.  She was kinda like our mascot.  Chip however ended up becoming very aggressive because he was a ram (male sheep), he actually tried to ram into me one time, so we had to get rid of him.

My dad had another friend that lived on the other side of town who owned sheep, so we bought more breeding stock.  We had about 20 ewes, which meant since most of them would have twin, we had about 40 lambs at a time. We would breed the ewes in the fall and would have lambs in the spring.  I always loved seeing the new wobbly legged lambs running and jumping around the pasture.

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The only hard part about living on a farm is that things died, a lot.  But I believe that it gave me a better perspective on life and death.  God really does give and take life. Sheep don’t have souls, so when they die their time is ended. The encouraging thing for us is that we do have souls, and if we repent of our sins and put our trust in Jesus Christ we can live for eternity with him in heaven.

Raising sheep also gives a whole new light to the passages in the bible about how we are the sheep and Jesus is the shepherd.  Let me just say it is not a compliment. Sheep have no natural defenses.  They can’t even really bite anything because they only have teeth on the bottom of their mouths, the purpose of this is so they can scoop up the grass. Also their hooves are not really sharp, they are more like large toenails. So, pretty much we are like animals that can’t fend for ourselves, we need someone to care for us or we just blindly follow each other.  Sheep really do follow each other even if it is a bad idea, we had some that ran into posts and broke their own necks.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” – John 10:1-5

Since we had the sheep my dad decided that we should try some other animals as well.  We had two miniature donkeys, they actually protected the sheep from dogs and coyotes. We only ever lost one lamb from a coyote, so it must have worked.  We also raised meat chickens.  They were very cute as chicks, but they grow into full size chickens in 8 weeks, and they have been bred to only stand there and eat; they have no natural instincts. We also, at different times, had two ducks, egg laying hens, a baby deer (it had been wounded and ended up in our pasture with our sheep), guinea fowl (Click here to see a picture), a rabbit, turkeys (which all died because to be honest, they are the dumbest bird in comparison to the extinct Dodo bird), a horse, several 100 cats, two dogs and a partridge and a pear tree (just kidding about the partridge, but we did have pear trees).

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Well, that gives you a basic idea of what my childhood was like living on a farm.  There are so many more stories that I could share, but I’ll just saves those for another time.  Let me know what your childhood was like, comment below or send me an email.

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