This 5 month old, little black Icelandic lamb is named “Lavender”. She joined on flock on Restoration Farm, Wyoming just this summer (2017). I love hearing Lavender’s loud, persistent greeting every time I go outside!
For the time being, our flock is being dry lotted in our back yard. This is to protect them from poisonous, Russian Knapweed, considered a noxious weed by WY, while it dies off (we had it sprayed 3 times!), in anticipation of being able to plant healthy grass in the spring. The sheep much prefer to graze, but as is the norm for keeping livestock in our new WY community, we have invested in several tons of hay to hold the flock over until the next hating season in early summer, 2018.
To help keep hay from going to waste when I feed the sheep, we bought a nice feed trough, so the hay won’t be trampled on the ground when they are fed, and more edible hay will be preserved. This is NOT my preferred method of shepherding, but Wyoming is a very different climate that dictates different things to contend with as a shepherd than what I am accustomed to in Louisiana. One is not “better” than the other, only “different”, and new for me learn about and to adjust to as a shepherd.
The sheep, especially Lavendar, have taught me one new thing in particular recently that puts me in mind of teaching people of any age. If I don’t put out enough hay to keep them happily grazing all day, the sheep seem to look discouraged and a little frustrated with nothing to do, even when I know they have had “enough” (according to the text books) to eat. But if I give them an abundance to be sure they have enough to carry them over even until the next day, they eat until they are full and satisfied, and leave the rest in the trough. Do they go back to the trough the next day when they are hungry again?? Not really! Only reluctantly to nose through the perfectly hay, hoping to find something that smells exciting. It seems when the “newness” wears off, their interest wanes. They will not eat the hay left in the trough, even if there is plenty of it, it is not wet or spoiled, and it is the same as it was the day before. But if I pull just the “right amount” from the very same hay stack, they all come running again with excitement, as if they don’t already have a pile to eat!
Lavendar is the funniest. She is the First to hop up in the trough, to get there before the rest of the flock, and position her body so she gets first pick of all the best hay! She is so cute! Her enthusiasm for “new” never stops. Everytime she sees me, she hollers a LOUD, excited greeting, hoping the sight of me heralds some “new”, fresh dining experience for her. I swear, if she had a baby bib, she would tie it on herself and grab a knife and fork to greet that new hay! She dominates the trough which is as tall as her head, even though I always put down a special serving just at the level of the lambs, so they have plenty she can reach. But that is not enough for Lavendar! She wants to eat with the grown ups!
When reaching out to teach children about Jesus, there are always special challenges, to:
- …always make it “new” and “fresh”, even though you know it all comes from the same “hay stack”.
- …figure out what is “enough”, so they don’t get easily bored with not enough to challenge them and keep their minds easy, but not so much they “leave it in the trough” and don’t want to eat “the rest” next time.
- …not underestimate the true hunger children have for spiritual things, to learn and understand scripture, to really know who God is, how He feels about them, and how to develop a relationship with Him. Teach always these things, and God’s truth, His ministry through you, will carry them if they are able to be with you only a short time in their lives, or a long one. When they see you coming, they will know it the sight of you heralds receiving good things they are “hungry” for, and grab their bibs!