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Oh, those sheep!

The eggmobiles had been out on the north pasture – strategically placed behind the flerd of cattle and sheep so they could benefit from their droppings. It was meant to be a symbiotic arrangement, mutually beneficial – for each of them and the ground upon which we all depend.

But, what is it about those adorable yet ornery sheep? I’m sure Jesus would have some choice words about them/us. The shepherd metaphor of our savior has many interpretive layers.

So, the sheep – while set up in a paddock with abundant vegetation (i.e. food) had decided that the grass was greener on the other side; where the chickens and their feeders were. This disruption of the ecological system wreaked havoc with the chickens and frustrated the farmer.

Sometimes, after repeated days of coaxing your wandering sheep to stay in their paddock only to find them out again in the morning, you have to make a change.

As of yesterday, the eggmobiles were moved out of the north pasture into the shade of the south pasture’s labyrinth grove of bois d-arc trees. It is a sacred place of respite in this Texas heat - and there are no sheep.

Today everyone is pretty much where they are supposed to be. The chickens seem quite content to scratch around by themselves on the prayer walk of the labyrinth. The sheep are grazing this morning in their paddock with the cows – although there were still a few that insisted on testing the boundaries and search for the no longer present chicken feed.

Oh, those sheep!

Symbiotic, interdependent, and interconnected relationships are the basis of a healthy community – ecological, social, or otherwise. We are meant to walk, graze, work, and play together. Perhaps when we think we need more (food, power, money, etc.) to the point that we take from others, things begin to break down.

When we (sheep) misbehave as children, sometimes we have to be separated from others. When we (chickens) are being mistreated by someone knocking over our feeders and taking what is not theirs, sometimes we need a private retreat.

But a flourishing life is not lived in isolation. The chickens and the sheep will need to be reintroduced to one another at another time – for the health of the farm and all the lives (human and more than human) who call the farm “home.”

It may require an added wire on the fence though – oh those sheep!

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