Wednesday, August 14, 2002

We added a new stud ram to our flock this week. We are breeding for genetic resistance to scrapie, a neurological disease which can afflict black-faced sheep. The new acquisition has the genetics we want, as well as being a showy young sheep. Susan made the mistake of asking her former English major husband for a name for him. Being that our current stud ram is named Pride, the new arrival now goes by Prejudice. Expect a crop of Jane Austen-themed lamb names this winter.
Like any other job, farming has its good moments and bad. Sometimes it is hard to tell which is which. It is all a matter of perspective. Night before last I went down to the barn to feed and found that one of the lambs had wedged his head through a wire panel separating the feed sacks from the rest of the barn. Since his head was larger than the opening in the panel, this was an accomplishment. One of the feed sacks was barely within reach, but reached it he had, torn it open with his teeth and chowed down on a small river of spilled grain. This was a bad thing for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that overeating can actually kill a sheep. Their system is designed for grass and foliage; bulky food and not too rich. Too much grain will actually cause ruptures as it works through their very intricate (and surprisingly delicate) digestive tract. I moved the sack out of the way, much to his displeasure. Since he had eaten more than enough, I left him wedged while I fed the other, less creative, lambs. After everyone else was cared for, I turned back to our greedy friend and started working him free, a process not unlike getting a ship out of the bottle. While I was pushing him back, he was pressing forward, still fixated on the remaining spilled grain with the kind of dumbstruck intensity seen only in crack-heads, rare book collectors, porn addicts and boy band fans. Needless to say, we were not experiencing a high point in human-ovine relations. After much effort, and a total loss of composure on both our parts, he came loose, but not before I had speculated on his chances of eternal salvation and commented, at length, on his personal hygiene, the character of his mother, and his reproductive preferences. This was one of those bad moments, unless of course you were anyone but me, in which case it would have been both amusing and instructive. As I said, it's all a matter of perspective.
Tomorrow is the Feast of the Dormition, or "Falling Asleep" of the Virgin Mary. David Melling's Anastasis site is displaying the icon for the feast and has links to Patristic texts and sermons. Archimandrite Ephrem's translation of the Vespers and Matins services for the Feast can be found here.

In giving birth you preserved your virginity,
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.