Wednesday, August 24, 2016



So much of life is characterized by tension.

Last month, I wrote about a few of the things I learned from a lamb this summer. (Read those thoughts HERE.) Yesterday, Helen showed her lamb, and last night she sold him.

We drove home after the livestock sale without Bertie. Helen was pretty stoic - she has no problem with the reality that he was a "commercial" lamb, although she will miss working with him every day. I, on the other hand, was an emotional mess.

I am SO GLAD that we no longer have to drive back and forth to the sheep barn every day (it's a 30 minute drive, one way) - we'll have more time to focus on schoolwork, now - but, dang, I really liked that sheep! Happy/relieved and heart-broken, both at the same time.

So much of life is not either/or - it's both. Tension.

But back to things I have learned from a lamb...

Or, more precisely, lessons learned or relearned in the context of working with a lamb this summer, that have nothing at all to do with a lamb, but with people...

1. There is a huge difference between saying you will do something - and - honoring your commitments. It is wonderful to want to help others; it is even more wonderful to actually follow through on your promises. The Bible exhorts us to let our Yes be Yes, and our No be No. I have learned that it is wise to answer Yes slowly, thoughtfully, try to make sure my Yes will indeed be Yes before I speak. This is a HARD lesson to learn. It is also hard to be working alongside another who is learning this lesson, to bear the brunt of someone else's unfulfilled obligations. And it is extremely hard to watch your child have to deal with the frustration of working with others who don't follow through on their commitments.

2. Concerning livestock, there are people in this world who work with lambs/hogs/cattle because they truly love the stock and the livestock industry; and then there are those who care very little about lambs/hogs/cattle, but who care very much indeed about ribbons and prize money. There is room in this world for all kinds of people; but, at a livestock show, the people who are in this for the long haul, the people who actually genuinely love working with sheep/hogs/cattle, the people who care about the future of the industry, those are the most fun to interact with. They. Are. Awesome.

3. Watching the kids who showed animals...Some absolutely loved everything about their animal: feeding, grooming, cleaning up after, showing, everything. Some were there...for I'm not really sure what reason. They were unaware, un-engaged, and obviously wanted very much to be somewhere, anywhere else. Not sure why the heck they were in the barn at all...

4. A junior livestock show and sale takes a TREMENDOUS amount of time, energy, organization, sweat, muscle, and money. And a lot of people in my community give these things freely because they care about the livestock industry and they care about the future of the industry. Extension agents, volunteers, area farmers, feed suppliers, businesses who help underwrite the event and who bid on stock in the sale ring...SO MANY PEOPLE give freely of their time, energy, and resources to encourage young people who are genuinely interested in learning. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who invested in my daughter this summer as she cared for, trained, showed, and sold her lamb. Thank you. In a day when so many folks seem interested only in taking, it was a blessing to me to see so many whose desire was to give.

Today, we will clean up and put away the blue halter and the feed and water bowls (and, yes, I will cry - I am crying right now, writing this). Today, it's back to physics and art history for Helen and me. But, man, we have learned so much this summer, so many valuable lessons working with a lamb.

Thank you, Bertie.

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