Bold Words

            Supplement for the book Green Grass, Still Waters: Woolfred Lamb Explains Psalm 23

Book and Supplement written by Kelli Carruth Miller

Sheep Words from the Shepherd

This is a list of the words that appear in bold print in the story. I have also included some extra words for further information that are not in bold.  A simpler version of this list for younger children for ages 3-7 may be found at Use this list for 3rd grade and up, and if teaching a group of mixed ages that includes older children. For a  printer friendly version, click here.  This list teaches more about sheep.  For a list of discussion questions that address the spiritual aspects of the story, click here.

About sheep:  Sheep come in many different sizes, from miniature sheep no taller than you knee, to gigantic sheep the size of small cows!  Wild sheep live on their own, without a shepherd and do well enough, but only the strong survive.  The wild sheep are “hair sheep”, growing hair they can shed and rub off with their wool (if they grow wool) without the need of a shearer, a person who cuts wool from wooly, domestic sheep, just like when you get a hair cut.  Hair sheep just need a good tree to run against!

Wool on a fence Katahdin (hair) sheep have been rubbing against.

For thousands of years, people around the world have raised sheep, which means sheep that were once living in the wild, have become “domesticated”. There are still wild sheep today also, but domesticated sheep, those that depend on shepherds, have been bred  to grow wool that must be sheared away, instead of hair that comes off without extra help.  This shearing time is the wool harvest when people gather the wool they would use to make thread, yarn and fabric for the year.  People generally take very good care of their flocks, because a healthy, happy flock makes healthy, happy people.  Domestic sheep have provided meat; leather (sheep skin); milk, cheese (such as mozzarella), yogurt; thread and wool cloth from wool, for thousands of years, and they still do today!

  1. Icelandic:. Just as there are many breeds of cars and dogs, there are many breeds of sheep. Icelandic sheep are from Iceland, near the top of the world. They have extremely long, beautiful wool designed to keep them warm in weather that stays
    April Brown
    A group of Icelandic sheep grazing at Restoration Farm.

    below freezing for long periods. Icelandic sheep come in many beautiful colors: black, grey, red, bown, blonde, white, and spotted.

  2. Wool: the wool that has been cut from a living sheep, just like the hair that falls to the floor when you get your hair cut.
  3. Fleece: where the different kinds of grasses grow that are good for the sheep, goats, cows and horses to eat.  Our pastures today usually have fences around them, to keep desired animals in, and dangerous animals out.  In Bible times open grazing was practiced, meaning the shepherds would move the sheep from place to place where ever they could find good food growing for the sheep.  In some places today this is still done.  Today in some parts of the United States, there are still government lands where open range grazing allowed, although this has practice has been stopped in most of the rest of the United States.  In some parts of the world, like Iceland, sheep like Dotty Spot and April Brown are left to run through mountains as a herd, and are collected by their shepherds once or twice a year for shearing and health maintenance.  Their “pasture” would be the open mountain ranges, instead of a fenced in meadow.
  4. Hide: A hide is different from a fleece.  Where a fleece is all the wool cut (shorn) from a living sheep, a hide is the fleece with the skin on it, taken from an animal that has already died.  The skin of the hide is leather.  Leather from sheep is very soft, and so not very strong.
  1. Ewe: The fiber sheep grow that covers their skin. It is different from hair, because it is stretchier, and it grows in tiny bundles, called “locks”. Often, it looks crimped (zig zagged).  Wool from sheep can be cleaned and turned into fabric and yarn that makes very warm clothing and blankets.
This is a close up of parts of several different colored fleeces from Icelandic sheep mixed together.  A single fleece can weight from 4 to 15 pounds, depending on the size and breed of the sheep.
  1. IMG_0801
    This is a lock of wool from a sheep.  See the little waves?  That is “crimp”.  A lot of crimp makes it easier to the wool to hold together when it is twisted into yarn.

    “6” Best Friend: Some sheep really do make best friends with other sheepA sheep’s best friend may be their mother, a brother or sister, or another sheep their own age.  Twin lambs may be best friends from birth, but that relationship can change as they get older.  On my farm, April Brown and Dotty Spot really did come from the same farm.  The had different mothers, but the same father, and they were born close to the same time. April and Dotty would always graze beside each other, often taking naps together while leaning on each other.  If they hurt, they would seek the comfort of one another’s company.  April is not just any other sheep to Dotty.  The part of the story where Dotty returned to the pasture just to be with April, even though she still  did not trust me as her new shepherd, really did happen.  They were well cared for on the farm from which they came to me, but they were not use to being handled.

  1. Lamb: a baby sheep.  Sheep are considered “lambs” until they are about one year old.

    A ram lamb with his mother, just after birth.
  2. To shear: To help sheep be more comfortable by cutting away the growth of wool.  Sheep are sheared usually once a year, in the Springtime.  If a sheep has not been sheared for an extremely long time and has gotten matted, the stress of the heat and heaviness of the wool can lower their immune system and make them sick.
    Premier 4000 Shears
    Premier 4000 Shearing Machine for sheep, from Premier One.  This is the same machine I use to shear my sheep.

    This does not happen if sheep are sheared regularly, but when we get a new sheep in this situation, we shear them immediately, no matter the time of year.  Some breeds of sheep, such as Icelandics (which is what Dotty Spot is), grow wool very, very fast.  We have to shear Dotty Spot and her Icelandic friends on our farm two or three times a year to keep them comfortable in the climate where we live.  The Icelandic sheep grow  longer wool much faster than Gulf Coast sheep do.

  3. Shorn: Past tense of “to shear”.
  1. Shearing Season: The time of year, usually in the Spring, when a shepherd gathers his/her sheep together for shearing. On our farm, we have the sheep stand on a shearing stand to  give them this “hair cut”.  We sell the wool from our farm for others to make into yarn.  We also sell yarn from our sheep’s wool for others to knit, crochet, or weave into warm clothing such as hats, gloves, scarves and blankets.
  1. Gulf Coast Native sheep: A breed of sheep descended from Spanish Merino sheep brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus. The sheep were released to run wild, so the Spanish explorers would have fresh meat when they returned.
    The white sheep seen here in my flock are Gulf Coast Natives.  The colored sheep are Icelandic.  The animal on the edge far left, is Mo the Goat!

    Over time, these sheep adapted to become very good at surviving in the hot, Southern climate of the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.  They are also known as “Piney Woods” sheep, “Louisiana Native Sheep”, and “Florida Native Sheep.”  Gulf Coast sheep are very good mothers and strong survivors!

  1. Ram Lamb: a baby male sheep. Woolfred is a Gulf Coast ram lamb.
  1. Clover: Have you ever looked for four-leaf clovers, or made flower chains with clover flowers? This is the same kind of clover Woolfred is eating at the beginning of the story.  Although some people think of  clover as a “weed” (an unwanted plant) clover has a lot of protein and good nutrition for sheep.
  2. Shepherd: A good shepherd is an expert in his or her sheep.  He or she takes care of all types of sheep needs
  3. Wild Sheep:
  4. Poisonous weeds: As a shepherd, I have to be aware of what plants are growing where the sheep are grazing. When I find a plant that is poisonous to sheep, I have
    As pretty as they are, azaleas are one type of plant that can be poisonous to sheep, if they eat too much.

    to either move the sheep to different ground, or remove the plant.

  5. Rye Grass: A dark green grass that grows well in the Southern United States in the winter. We plant it in Louisiana in the Fall on our farm to give our sheep a good source of protein through the Winter. We have to limit how long they eat it each day, because it is very rich!  Our sheep eat rye grass like it is candy, especially in winter when it is the only green grass that can grow.  In Wyoming shepherds feed their sheep alfalfa hay they have stored for winter. In Alaska, rye grass can only grow in summertime, so they make a different plan for winter than shepherds in Louisiana do.  Shepherds provide for sheep in different ways depending on where they live, and what they can get for sheep when it is needed.

    rye grass
    Rye Grass
  1. To Graze: To eat grass that is growing (instead of hay). Sheep choose each bite of grass very randomly.  They do not eat grass very close to the ground, unless they either find a very tasty spot they really like and can’t get enough of, or unless they do not have very much land to graze.  If sheep are kept in one small place for a long time, they will eat the grass down to the dirt.  If they have plenty of pasture to graze in, the grass will still stay pretty tall.  They like to eat the seeds off the top of the grass, first!
  2. Hay: Dried grass. Just like there are many kinds of grass (Bermuda, rye, crab grass, St Augustine, etc) there are many kinds of hay that are good for feeding livestock (cows, horses, sheep goats: any kind of .  The ones with the more nutrition and protein we use are alfalfa, Alishia, clover and Timothy are some of the kinds of hay we have used to feed our animals.

    Square bales of alfalfa hay.
  3. Danger: for sheep, “danger” includes stray dogs, wolves, coyotes, bears, and even eagles. Danger may also be tiny things such as parasites that they cannot see coming, but that attack their health in a more quiet way.
  4. Special Sheep: The “special sheep” Woolfred describes to Dotty is entirely ficticious! Both he and Dotty know there is no such sheep.  Sheep are prey animals, not predators.
  1. Icelandic Horned Ewe: Some sheep have horns, some do not. Some sheep have short, weak horns called “scurs” that break off easily. A sheep without horns is called “polled”.  None of my Gulf Coast ewes (female sheep) have horns.  Most are polled, but a few have scurs.  Many of my Gulf Coast rams (male sheep) have long, curly horns, but some have scurs and some are polled.  Most of my Icelandic ewes are horned, although their horns are not as big as the rams.  A few of the Icelandic ewes are polled, none have scurs.  Big, curly horns definitely indicate a sheep is a ram.  If a sheep lacks horns or has short horns, they could be either male or female.  This can change, depending upon the breed of sheep.


  1. Staff: I staff is used to draw a sheep near a shepherd. The hooked part of the staff

Be used to catch a sheep by the leg, or at least slow him down enough to be able to grab him by hand.  It can also be used to grab a sheep’s neck or horns to pull them close.  Unless the sheep is a very young lamb, a staff cannot be used to pick up a whole sheep.  The staff also extends the shepherd’s arm, to make him look bigger to the sheep, and lengthen how far he is able to reach, which is very useful when working with sheep who are too nervous and untrusting to come near!  Shepherd’s still use staffs today.

  1. Rod: A rod is a short stick used for throwing at predators by shepherd’s in certain cultures in Africa and the Middle East.


  1. Medicine: oil mixed with crushed plants that treat bacterial infection, viruses, fungus, and parasites was used to heal animals and people in Bible times. Sometimes we use certain plants, or oils made from plants, such as neem or tea tree oil, to treat different ailments in our herd.
  1. Herd or flock: a group of sheep that sticks together because they all have something in common, such as all belonging to the same shepherd. In the wild, a herd will stick together because they are related to one another.   They are all mothers, children, grandparents, cousins, etc.