A friend who is preparing to serve as a pastor recently sent me some of his reflections on pastoral ministry drawn from his work on his farm. I thought I would pass them on.
As I told you, I have cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, and yes, dogs and cats on our farm. The sheep have taught me so much. It seems that the more time you spend with them the more they trust. They are the most frightened of the farm animals. A beautiful Barbado Blackbelly ram took seven months to be able to pet and even now he will not come to me if others are present. Sheep are without question the dirtiest of the livestock. They have a film over them and they have glands that secrete a waxy substance. Goats are quite beautiful and sleek, very curious, and always the first to greet you to see if you have a treat. A few weeks ago I went down to the pasture to check on all the livestock before Sunday worship and I did so without a feed bucket. The goats greeted me and did not follow for I visibly had nothing for them. I proceeded further and came upon the cows who stared intently but also found no reason to follow. As I approached the sheep and spoke to them they recognized it was me and they stood together and stared like the other livestock but as I begin to walk back to the gate they followed. As we passed the cows they too followed and the goats as well. What an example of the Church, if we follow faithfully, if our shepherds lead faithfully; will not others follow also? Shall we not do all these things for the sake of the elect? Will not the Lord of all the earth do what seems right to him? He is faithful and will not deny himself. Oh, that we endure that others may obtain Christ!
Other items of interest: sheep are prone to intestinal worms and must be medicated much more than goats and cows, the more they are handled the more they trust but after some time of neglect they grow more like but not exactly like the goats and cows in action. Sheep are very easy to herd for the most part especially in comparison to goats. Goats must be led by some trinket which usually is sweet feed in the trough. Goats are fun and lively and run all over the pasture while sheep remain close together. Sheep love to graze especially together while goats love the brush and exotic- whatever around the pasture edges. Sheep when being fed with goats will come to the trough last; they will wait until the goats have hoarded first. A goat mother will leave her little one to feed but a sheep will not and when doing so will not go far. Lambs are tender at birth and more susceptible to death while generally goat kids are hearty. Goats respond to sight while sheep respond more to sound.