FEED MY SHEEP
In the spring of 2011 we started calving on the ranch on 15 February as is our normal custom. To do this we turn the bulls in with the herd mother cows on 5 May the year before. Calving starts pretty close to on-time each year. That particular year, calving was going well. We receive 5 to 7 calves per day during the height of the calving season. The intent is to have all the calves on the ground before the first of May so the calf crop is even, the calves are doctored and cows are ready to go on pasture together by the end of May. There is nothing prettier than sitting on the back of a horse riding through a herd of cattle with healthy, big calves on pasture in the high mountains.
I am continually impressed with the feeling of responsibility that comes with owning cattle. They need food, nutrients, water, and medical help. When they get out, you have to find them and get them back in. It is fulfilling to see them healthy, to see the herd genetics improve and to take care of them in a humane way. There are many tricks to the trade that make handling cattle efficient and easier. Calving time is always full of surprises and drama. Sometimes a cow needs help to deliver, cows may claim the wrong calf, calves can get sick or cold and give up, they may not suck, from time to time we graft a twin on a cow that may have lost a calf, etc. Every situation has a particular best way to be handled.
One day in March, I left work during lunch time to check the herd, especially to see if any cows needed help. As I stopped at the pasture, I noticed a cow had just delivered her calf behind the front gate to the pasture. The calf was laying on the ground steaming in the cold weather; the mother cow was licking the calf and bellowing. I watched for a minute. The calf did not move. I decided to take a look. I walked over and immediately saw what I hate to see more than anything with new born calves; the cow had cleaned out and afterbirth was lying across the calf’s nose. I hurried through the gate, cleared his nose and mouth only to see the healthy, black new born, bull calf lying still with its lifeless eyes wide open; suffocated. I felt with my hand, he had no heart beat and was not breathing. It sickened me because when they are dead you cannot bring them back and I always feel so responsible for their well being. I began chest compressions on the calf to stimulate the heart and breathing by pressing down on his rib cage, much like CPR on a human. Shortly thereafter he began to breathe with large chest contractions. I felt his heart begin pounding under his ribs. It was a miracle; I had brought this calf back from sure death. He was blinking his eyes and soon stood up and went to his mother and started sucking. That calf became one of the biggest and healthiest calves in the herd that year.
Because of my love for ranching, I really connect as the Lord reproves the shepherds of Israel who do not feed the flock in the last days when the Lord gathers the lost sheep of Israel. The whole chapter deserves reading as it is about us. Here is an excerpt:
2 … Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost…
5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.
31 And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God. (Ezek. 34)
I want to take a minute and talk about our responsibility as part of The Total Mind Shift that we feed the flock by teaching with power and conviction about the restoration of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost, The Silver Bullet, will do the convincing to those we teach of the truthfulness of our message. Once we find and before we baptize, our job is to teach. Teaching is how we feed the flock, how we strengthen those with spiritual disease and spiritual sickness or who are spiritually broken and are driven away and spiritually lost. We are the shepherds and the hope of the sheep. Verse 6 is the great finding verse. The sheep are scattered across the face of the earth and between us and the member-missionary work there is nobody to search or seek after them. Verse 14 is particularly comforting, the Lord will feed them through us as we teach and, similar to the cattle business, it is a beautiful sight to see people eventually in the fold in a fat pasture upon the mountain.
In a similar way the Lord called Peter to his ministry after the resurrection:
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? … And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:17)
Feeding my sheep is teaching with divine power, the power of the Holy Ghost. The message of the restoration of the gospel must be taught by the spirit who will testify of the truth, otherwise conversion does not take place. Your setting apart included the promise that the spirit will attend your teaching as you remain worthy for that blessing.