lent blog: Humans & Other Animals
Will Joyce writes:
‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…’ Ecclesiastes 3:1-2.
There are many unique privileges in farming that connect you with nature. Notably, at this time of year, spring lambs are born and new life enters the world. The quote from Ecclesiastes sums up farming for me and the cyclical nature of the life outdoors. Every season brings about its own inimitable opportunities and challenges but above all, spring marks the arrival of new life into the world.
Farmers are renowned for grumbling about the weather and after the rainfall we had this winter, who can blame them! It doesn’t seem long ago that we were moving 300 sheep away from a flooded pasture in Gretton before the river Welland suddenly broke its banks. Despite the rain, the flock has wintered well and spring has started with gusto with radiant sunshine! Warm dry weather is important for shepherds as it helps the new lambs settle into their new life.
My family has been tied to farming in and around Morcott for a few generations and I plan to stay here too; I enjoy helping on the land when I can – it brings out the best in me and gives me time to think about the beauty and semblance of nature, and also our Creator. I have recently started a new career in renewable energy after my PhD but I am still close to the land. I travel a lot with my new job but when I can work from home there is nothing more peaceful and mindful than heading out into the fields at sunset and watching the sun go down over the Seaton hillside.
New life is precious, delicate and above all unpredictable, lambs appear at all hours of the day and a steadfast commitment is required to ensure that the new life is welcomed safely into the world. Moreover, the miracle of life is balanced with the poignancy of death and cade lambs who have lost their mothers depend on the shepherd for milk and warmth to survive in the world. Jesus died on the cross at Easter so that we could be forever forgiven and have eternal life. The Shepherd and the flock are a great metaphor for the Christian Easter message. I am grateful for the privilege to welcome new life onto the farm each Easter.
‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.’ John 10:27-28