Monday, September 5, 2011

Sheep Herding the Traditional Way

Every summer we look forward to the arrival of thousands of sheep on our mountain. For over a century, shepherds have herded the sheep over 220 miles on a 6 week trek up to our high country from the valley's desert. Most companies truck their sheep to summer pastures, but the sheep on our mountain are still herded on foot through a sheep trail the traditional way. It's a legacy that lives on despite our fast paced, modern world.  Once the sheep arrive from their long journey, they are sheered and bred. They spend their summer days grazing the wide-open spaces.  

From a distance, the hills off to the south seem to be alive with little white spots dotting the landscape.  As we drive closer, the sheep start to take form.

Sometimes we pull off the road, roll down the windows, and turn off the truck to hear the sounds of thousands of sheep quietly grazing in the meadows.

We like to search for the shepherd and his trusty sheep dog in a "Where's Waldo" type of game.  The shepherd is never far from his sheep.  He's usually walking, or sitting on a rock overlooking the flock.  He stays with his sheep day and night as they roam the countryside.

I've always wondered what it would be like to be a shepherd and have the responsibility to lead, guide, and protect thousands of sheep.  On beautiful summer days, it must be wonderful to sit in the warm sunshine and ponder life in the quietness of the mountain.  But when ominous clouds bring lightning, thunder, and heavy summer rains, it's not an easy job.  Protecting the flock from predators, and spotting sick sheep takes a vigilant and watchful eye, as well. It seems to be a life of solitude that not many people are capable of these days.

Thankfully, the shepherd has his trusty dog to help him.  It took us a while to spot him, but we followed the wagging tail as it made its way through the flock and to the edge of the  treeline. His white coat blends in with the sheep.

He looks as though he's patrolling for predators...and doing a very good job at it.  He's very watchful, and serious about his job.

The sheep on our mountain are cared for much the same as sheep were cared for in Biblical times.  Whenever I see them, I think about God's portrayal of us as sheep, and the Lord as the Shepherd. This repeated analogy throughout the Bible is fascinating to me. I just love to read the book of John chapter 10 about the Lord as our Good Shepherd. It blesses me tremendously.

3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." John 10:3-5

I'll leave you with one last verse.  This one is from the old testament, and is a prophecy about Jesus, the coming Savior, written over 700 years before He was born.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;we have turned—every one—to his own way;and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6

Have a fabulous day!


1 comment:

  1. I didn't know this. It would be fun to hike the trail they come up on.