LESSONS FROM GRANDDAD and HIS SHEEP
By: Nelson Kidder
As I shared with you in a previous webpage article, my Grandfather Kidder was a farmer, and a shepherd of Merino sheep. “Granddad” kept a flock of about 40 to 50 ewes and one buck sheep on his farm near Cadiz, Ohio. Each spring, many lambs would be born, and these would be raised, with most sold in the fall. I have many wonderful memories of spending time each summer with my grandparents on that farm - memories of Grandma churning her own butter and baking homemade bread, pumping water from a well, watching Granddad work with his team of draft horses, and Granddad and his sheep!
The cute little lambs were always a real fascination for me. More than half of the ewes would give birth to twins, and occasionally, there would be triplets. Nearly every spring, there would be one or more ewes who could not adequately supply milk to more than one lamb. The stronger twin would get his fill, but the weaker twin would be left without enough nourishment to survive, without Granddad’s help. Occasionally a ewe would die during birthing, leaving an “orphan lamb.” These lambs without proper motherly care were always of greatest concern to me. I watched with keen interest as Granddad (and “I”) provided the necessary support.
My grandparents always kept at least one milk cow, usually a Jersey, a breed known for producing milk high in butter-fat content. Grandma would milk her mornings and evenings, skim off the cream, and churn butter. A glass of milk at Grandma’s house did not come from the dairy or a store. The lambs which were orphaned or mal-nourished needed milk, and this is where the Jersey cow became important, even “vital”, to their survival. Granddad had a bucket with a nipple on it, which allowed these “pet lambs” to feed. Milk from the cow, mixed with a small scoop of special lamb nutrients, went into the bucket. Then the lambs were fed from the bucket. How I loved to be part of feeding these “eager eaters,” and sustaining them!
Most of the time, these “pet lambs” started off smaller and weaker than all the other lambs. They had not gotten the early benefit of their mother’s milk, which set them back in developing. But over the next several weeks and months, as Granddad (and “I”) fed the pet lambs the rich milk from the Jersey cow, these lambs grew at a pace that often passed the other lambs in size and strength. I learned a valuable lesson from Granddad and his pet lambs.
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Pet. 2:2) Not all Christians have parents that gave them the early benefit of feeding them God’s word. If you (like I) did, thank God abundantly for that blessing! But if you did not, take a lesson from the “pet lambs”. Be an “eager eater”; have a strong desire to be fed on the pure milk of God’s word, at least daily. This is why our daily Bible reading schedule is so important to all of us. The Bible is like that rich, creamy milk from the Jersey cow – it will definitely cause you to grow as you continually feed upon it. It’s your choice – leave your Bible on the shelf, and your Christian growth will be stunted. Desire to be fed by the rich milk of God’s word, and you WILL grow thereby!