A Good Shepherd

Out in the more rural parts on a sheep farm with a little space for my vegetables, I am miles away from a synagogue. When I pull together the gas money to get there, the closest one is conservative. I am given the honor of making the minyan. The discussion there centers around the theological question of Paschal sacrifice on Shabbat: which value is more important – not to work, or literal obedience to the holiday ritual? Without glasses, I struggle with the Hebrew in the Siddur. To be honest, even with glasses, without transliteration on the unfamiliar parts, it would have been hard.

A few days later, we go about trying to shear a sheep – #130. I hold the head as the blade comes down, conscious that this exercise could be her end if the movement is wrong, but having my friend’s steadfast promise that any sheep that I touch would be spared to live its natural life. An hour or so later, the concept of a blanket materializes in the 7-8 lbs of wool on the floor of the cage-free hen house. I fold the wool, over my friend’s objections, looking for the movement of hay that has to be removed with what is said to be the oldest and most sensitive part of the visual system – that which detects motion.

The sheep runs out to the field to join its flock, and I worry as I start to get cold that the sheep might also be getting cold. I pick up a few posts locally, and mentally plan to construct a small 1-4 unit 3-4 ft high 8‘x8′ barn with an overlook cabin on the top, so the animals would be warm enough during the next winter. It is in the high 30‘s at night right now. Perhaps we should have wrapped a blanket around her, or kept her inside. Soon, though, it will be too warm.

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