The life of a sheep
I never really knew much about sheep. Anyone who doesn’t own them thinks they are cute, cuddly, woolly cherubs – shepherds know best! You know why, because every pastor knows that they are too much like people! They can be stubborn, helpless, uncooperative, cause horrendous damage, and just want their own way. Sound like someone you know?
These beasts of wool are completely dependent on the type of owner or manager they have. Is he brave, selfless, devoted to the herd, or is he indifferent, negligent, and cowardly? Under the first, they will be healthy, flourish and prosper; under the second, they will starve and suffer dire hardships. Interestingly, it is only the character of the shepherd that determines the health and future of these animals and no one else.
The shepherd must be willing to continually sacrifice his own comfort and must provide adequately for the flock. You should do everything you can to find clean water, the best grasses, plenty of winter food, and shelter from the elements. Without the shepherd, the sheep are like helpless orphans, prey to any hungry beast. It is not an easy task! They need constant care. The shepherd must ensure his contentment or the flock will never do well. Their lives are entirely in your hands.
If handled correctly, sheep enjoy quite a unique role in the livestock kingdom. We’ve probably all seen the cowboy movies in which ranchers and sheep fight over the grasslands. This is because sheep, under indifferent management, can overgraze and turn the land into an area of waste that is almost irreparable. Paradoxically, they can also be the most advantageous animal on earth. In ancient times, they were known as ‘those with the golden hooves’, due to their great benefits for the soil.
Known as ‘nature’s grass eaters’, these animals consume the largest variety of herbs. They can eat toxic and invasive weeds that other animals cannot, thus cleaning up all the poisonous plants that are deadly to other herders. This saves ranchers a ton of money in the use of chemicals and machines, because even these inventions do not guarantee any success in destroying the weeds that choke just about everything else. And that is why they are called ‘those with the golden hooves’, sheep manure is the best balanced of any other animal. They have a habit of feeding on the rich lowlands and then resting in the higher lands. In doing so, they re-deposit the rich nutrients from those lower soils to the less fertile upper soils. More like a waterfall upside down!
No other creature extracts so much deadly toxin and returns so many life-giving nutrients. Sheep manure is a natural slow release fertilizer, it can be used as organic mulch, it has little odor and is lower in nitrogen than other fertilizers, but at the same time it is rich in phosphorus and potassium, which makes it ideal for plants . increase.
Sure, these shaggy critters are difficult to handle properly. Finding clean water can be a nightmare! Like any other animal, if they don’t get enough fresh water, they become weak, tense, and restless. If the shepherd does not provide clean water, these creatures will search for any contaminated water wells or puddles, putting themselves at risk of contracting parasites and infectious diseases. Preventing a sheep from slaughtering itself is a full-time occupation!
Something that many people find quite contradictory is the discipline of the herd. It all has to do with them moving away. Have you ever seen the image of a shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders? It is the job of the shepherds to set boundaries for the flock. When a sheep is constantly and stubbornly away from its protection, it will break its leg so that it cannot get away. Now he is forced to depend entirely on the tender care of the shepherds. It takes time, patience, and devotion, but a strong bond will be forged that never existed when the sheep had its wandering ways.
Opinions differ quickly here. I have read that there are those who say that this is a myth; no pastor would do something so cruel. But what is more cruel, ensuring that a sheep is no longer lost and kept out of danger, or can it be watched 24/7 to protect it? You can choose, but this is not the first time I have heard of this type of discipline in a rebellious way, and only the faithful can do it, it is called tough love!