Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Day's End (01/01/14)
TITLE: Golden Moments
By Alice Guthrie
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Busy! The shepherd barely had time to think what needed doing next. The recent blizzard and extreme cold was causing all sorts of havoc - water pipes were freezing, the tractor wouldn't start, the snow interfered with chores of all kinds. The laneway was drifted over, and without the tractor, impossible to navigate, even with a four wheel drive truck.
The livestock needed tending as usual, but the storm had made doing so a difficult job. Water had to be carried pail by heavy pail from the house, trudging through knee high drifts. Occasional whiteouts still occurred, obscuring his path, sometimes causing pails to spill as he stumbled - truly a disheartening and never ending task.
The shepherd struggled on, reaching the barn with the water and filling the containers. Then he loaded the mangers with fragrant hay, the result of last summer's labours. The clamour of hungry animals quieted as they busied themselves with filling their stomachs with as much forage as they could manage.
New lambs had been appearing each day lately, some of which needed extra attention. A new pair had been born an hour earlier, and had not yet learned the essential art of nursing. Patiently, the shepherd guided hungry mouths to mom's nipples, and watched with satisfaction as the wee ones suckled their first meal of the ewe's rich milk. Once full, these little ones curled up for a nap, exhausted by the events of their day. Mom chuckled in the way that only new mother sheep can, and turned to the feed to replenish her strength.
Older lambs raced and leaped about the pen, taking advantage of their moms' busyness with the hay to have the whole space for play. As a group they raced from one end of the pen to the other, cavorting and occasionally richocheting off the side wall. The shepherd smiled, for the sight brought joy to his heart.
He turned then to another special needs baby, this one requiring bottle feeding, for its mother had rejected it. Tail wiggling and twirling, the lamb greedily sucked back the powdered milk, then demanded seconds. The shepherd ensured that the creep held adequate feed for these fast growing babies, then paused for a few moments to just observe his charges. This was the best part of the night, when all the stock were tended. This was the time to watch for sick animals or other developing problems. These minutes at the end of the day were golden, punctuated by the peaceful sounds of ewes munching hay and occasional rustlings in the straw as they finished their feed and sought their beds.
The shepherd lingered, enjoying the peacefulness of the satisfied flock. This time was soul satisfying, as he knew he had been diligent in knowing the state of his flock. Work was done for the day.
Proverbs 27:23a KJV “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks ...”
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