Yesterday, the vet came to examine our three wethers: the twins, Kilian and Kaspar, and Kasimir, in preparation for their travel to their new and permanent home in another state. I knew that a part of breeding-up Valais Blacknose sheep would entail raising our lambs to the age of weaning and then seeing some of them off on a new, grand adventure. A twinge of sadness comes with the territory, but overall, I have to say that I’m excited for them and for their new shepherdess.
I feel confident that we’ve done our part. We’ve seen them and their mommas through a safe and healthy birthing process. We’ve given them the necessary routine veterinary care, any medical interventions needed, and a safe, clean environment that supports their growth into hardy, strong, and naturally rambunctious little ram lambs. In doing so, we’ve nourished the roots of the robust health, longevity, and resilience for which the Valais are known. But beyond the physical, I feel confident saying that we’ve given them a lightness of being that comes from being unconditionally loved.
Like many a shepherd and shepherdess, we’ve spent countless hours in the company of our flock. We’ve taught these lambs that humans are one-hundred percent kind, dependable, trustworthy, and approachable. Our hands offer help and affection, our voices offer praise and encouragement, our feet are swift to respond to their needs and their calls. They have discovered that cuddles feel good and kisses are bliss. And that a necessary deworming or injection will be followed by a scratch on the butt, chest, or shoulder, and will instantly ease any lingering discomfort (yes, we know every tickle spot and individual preference). They trust that following us leads to good things and have learned that pockets are made for tasty treats. They appreciate that a human sitting in their midst, with no agenda, allows them the liberty to interact as they please (or not), for forced affection is no affection at all. As a result, when they choose to give of their ovine hearts freely, our own hearts leap for joy. This is true connection and kindredness of spirit. This is the blessing of being a shepherd. And these are the things that give our lambs wings.
I know that they will fly on them to their new pasture and land with a sense of peace and security, for they believe that humans are kind and life is good. In turn, and in time, they will give their trust, cuddles, and kisses to their new shepherdess and make her heart leap for joy. Roots & Wings. This is the shepherd’s/breeder’s purpose and duty. If we have done our job well, no matter the circumstances, the Valais sheep we raise will always have a soft landing because they have a foundation that is rock-solid.
As for us, when our three amigos, Kilian, Kaspar, and Kasimir, depart, we will send them off on the wings of prayer, with a shepherd’s blessing. And since I couldn’t find one that actually exists, I’ve written one for them.
please watch over these lambs as they travel to their new pasture.
May our love attend them always,
may they find kindness, rest, nourishment, and sweetness
wherever they may be.
And may You hold them safely in the palm of your hand,
for You know their every step, their every breath, their every need.
Lord, we’ve given them roots and wings.
Now, we trust You to provide for them and for their shepherds
from the stores of Your goodness and abundance,
all the days of their lives.
Fare thee well, dear Kilian, Kaspar, and Kasimir.
You have gladdened our hearts with everlasting joy!
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” ~Ecc. 3:1