Monday, September 7, 2015


WARNING: This is a very sad story. If you cried when Ol’ Yeller died, you will cry with this one. You might ask me why I would write such a sad story, and the answer is, “I don’t know.” Most of the things that I write about farm life are happy things, because farming is a happy life for me. However, we have had a couple of sad things also happen this summer. Unfortunately, this is also part of farm life.

It had been a hard year for our old cow Cora. I do not actually know how old she was. I bought her only about four years ago, but she was obviously very old even then. The shoulders of her front legs stuck out unnaturally, and had the look of being affected by a type of bovine arthritis. But it was not arthritis, and her ungainly look did not seem to give her any pain. It certainly did not inhibit her movement in any way.

Some of the pastures of our farm are on very steep hillsides, and when I would call the cows to follow me as I opened up a new paddock, Cora would come running down the hill like an adolescent, often being the first one at the gate. I used to warn her after watching her run down a steep slope, “Be careful old girl, you’re going to end up falling and breaking something.”

Despite being my oldest cow and despite her awkward appearance, I thought that she was the most beautiful cow that I had. She had long graceful horns that grew out of a forehead that was covered with long, light red, kind of frizzy hair. In the winter, the hair falling in front of her face fairly covered her eyes. I sometimes wondered how she could see. But see she did, and looking into a field of wind-driven snow never seemed to bother her.

She was old, yes, but it was not her health this year that had been the difficult thing for her. To tell you about what I think led to her eventual death, I need to go back to the month of July. It was in July that her last calf was born. This is very late in the year to have a calf, but Cora was at the stage of life that breeding was perhaps getting a little unpredictable. But in July, at a time when all the other calves on our farm had been running and skipping around the fields for some time, Cora gave birth to a little heifer.

I was extremely happy to see this little heifer, whom we
immediately called “Corabelle.”  Up until Corabelle was born, I had only gotten bull calves from Cora. Ever since I had bought her, I had been hoping for a heifer so that I could keep her line going. I don’t know why. I just liked Cora. We were all happy to see little Corabelle.

Then, about a week and a half after Corabelle was born, disaster struck. The disaster came one night in the form of several coyotes that attacked and killed the little calf as it lie sleeping. As you might imagine, this event pained me considerably, but even more so Cora (this is a separate story. You can read it at ).

It is a difficult thing to read grief on the face of a cow. Sometimes I thought that I must be reading my own regrets into the mind of Cora, but I would occasionally see Cora on the hill, seemingly looking at the other calves running around. “What must she be thinking?” I thought to myself. “Surely she must remember.”

Earlier this spring, I was not sure of my plans for Cora for later in the autumn. I knew she was very old, but I did want that little heifer from her. One of the things that I was thinking was that if she were to have a heifer this year, I may ship her to market later in the fall. I think that is what a good herdsman would have done. There could be no profit left in Cora in the future.

However, when she did have little Corabelle, my plans changed. I told my wife Vivian, “I think I am going to just let Cora live out her days here on the farm and allow her to die a natural death. I cannot think of sending her to market.”

I’m afraid that the longer that I am in this business, the less of a herdsman I am becoming.

Then Corabelle was killed. But despite what I thought might be Cora’s sorrow, after the loss of her calf, Cora seemed to be doing pretty well physically. As a matter of fact, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I looked at how she had filled out. She looked sleek and fit. At one time during the summer I wondered if she would be able to make it through another one of our harsh, Wisconsin winters, but after looking at her that day, I thought that she would have no trouble.

But in the end, it was not the cold that got her, it was the heat.

This early September, we have been having unusually hot weather for this time of year. Temperatures in the high 80’s with humidity that exceeded even that. Our cows have already begun to grow their winter hair, and it has been very hard on them. Four or five days ago, I watched as the cows climbed the hill after getting a drink at the pond. They were moving pretty slowly. Then I noticed that Cora was not among them.

A little concerned, I went to look for her. I finally found her standing in the shade in the valley, but panting rather hard. I actually was not bothered about it much at the time. Cora always panted in the summer. Vivian and I used to joke about it. As soon as the thermometer reached 70, Cora would start to pant. “It’s too hot for Cora,” we would laugh.

When I saw her standing in the shade on the day I went to look for her, I gave Cora a rub on her hairy forehead and left her there. I fully expected that she would join the rest of the cows soon.

The next day, there was still no Cora. Now I was concerned. Again, I went to look for her. She was not where I last left her, or nowhere in that area. I looked all over our little farm. I at first could not find her anywhere. Finally, I came upon her lying under some balsams in furthest point that she could find to be alone.

She looked fine, but I knew that this was not a good sign. I had never watched a cow die before. Growing up on the farm, we never had a cow die of old age. We would always ship them before they got to that stage. That is what herdsmen do. But I already commented about my learning curve in being a herdsman.

However, when I saw her lying at that place on our farm, I was worried. It was as if she had gone off to die. She rose to her feet when I came near, but she had the look about her that she was not interested in coming back up the hill to be with the others. I had brought a little feed in a bucket for her. She sniffed it and licked at it a little, but she was not interested. This was not like Cora.

The day was hot and muggy. I had even replaced my standard-wear bib overalls with shorts that day, and just the act of walking around the farm soaked me and all my clothes with sweat. I walked back to the pond and got a pail of water for her, and she drank a little, but not much. Inside, I knew that Cora was dying.

For three days I went down to check on her, although I did

This is the last time I saw Cora when

she was still able to hold her head up

not really have hope that Cora would pull through. She knew that it was her time to die. I knew it too. Nevertheless, I kept tempting her with goodies. I walked back up to the farm and got her a nice bit of hay, just in case she should decide to eat a little. There was an apple tree in the woods near to where she lay, and I picked a couple of apples for her. She always loved apples and would gobble them down so fast I used to be afraid that she would choke on one; and I did not know how to do the heimlich maneuver on a cow. However, when I brought the apples to her this time, I held one up to her snout. She first took it in her mouth, but her appetite was gone. She let it drop to the ground.

One night, after dark, I heard coyotes yipping in the direction where Cora lie. They were not near where she was lying, but I was afraid they might find her during the night. She would have no strength to fight them off. I took my revolver and walked carefully in the dark down the hill and through the balsams. There, a couple hundred feet from Cora, I aimed at nothing and emptied the cylinder of bullets into the tops of the trees. I hoped it would be warning enough for the coyotes to stay away. I don’t know if my shooting did anything, but at least they did not come that night.

For three days Cora lie there. She sometimes drank a little water, but I don’t think she ate anything at all, or if she did, it was very little. But she seemed comfortable and always perked up a little when I came to see her. If it had seemed like she was suffering, I would perhaps have put her out of her misery. But she mostly seemed peaceful – just waiting for death to come. It was difficult for me, but I had wanted to let her die naturally, so that is what I did.

This afternoon when I last went to check on her, I knew that she had died even before I got there. The last time that I saw her, I knew that death was very near. When I arrived at the spot, she lie still, flat on the ground. She was peaceful now. It is sad for me, but honestly, I don’t think it would be so sad except for the fact that she had to see her last calf killed by predators. I wanted to let Cora die a natural death, and that is what she did. My regret is that I did not want it to be this soon.

Vivian said that if the calf would not have been killed, Cora would not have died this year. Her little calf would have kept her alive. I think that she is right.

I will miss Cora. Most mornings I look out on the fields to see the cows. Quite often, when the light was still dim and the cows were still lying on the ground from sleeping during the night, all that I was able to make out was Cora’s graceful horns sticking out of the fog.

I do not know how Cora’s life was in the many years before she came to our farm, but I can say that she had a nice life here. All of our animals do, and despite the occasional heartache, that is one of the joys of our farm.


Monday, August 24, 2015


(This is the conclusion of the two posts previous to this one. To read those first, please scroll down or click on the titles on the right side of your screen)
The Woman Understood What the Disciples Did Not

The conversation that Jesus had with this woman was so similar to the one that he was now having with the people looking for bread, that I think that as he was talking to these people, the situation must have brought to his mind his recent talk with the Samaritan woman at the well.

However, in the case of the people looking for bread, the outcome was not to be quite so positive. These people instead began to grumble about the fact that Jesus had referred to himself as “The bread that came out of heaven.”

As Jesus did with the woman, he tried to explain to the people what he meant. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate bread in the wilderness, and they died. I am the bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:48-49, 51 NAS).

Unlike the woman at the well, the people looking for bread did not understand the depths of what Jesus was saying. They thought that he meant that they should literally eat his flesh! If they had been willing to hear Jesus out, they would have known that he was not saying that.

Interestingly, this was not the case with the woman at the well of Samaria. Even though this woman had not seen previous miraculous signs by Jesus, and even though she was known as living a life that was shameful, she was patient and listened intently to what Jesus was telling her. Gradually, she came to understand what Jesus meant by his words. Once the woman began to understand that Jesus was not talking about the water in the well but about spiritual water, Jesus told her, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

Here also, with the people next to the Sea of Galilee, after Jesus said to the people that to have true life, they must eat his flesh and drink his blood, he explained to them that he was speaking in a spiritual sense. He said to them, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63 NAS).

However, unlike the woman at the well, they had not been willing to hear Jesus to the end of his explanation. These people were not interested in spiritual bread. It was their stomachs that were hungry, not their inner hearts – not their spirits. They just wanted something to eat now!

Those Who Believe and Those Who Withdraw

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well of Samaria, the result of their conversation was that she came to believe that he was the Savior who had come to them. She ran back into the city and told others whom she had met. Based on the words of the woman, many from that city also came to believe in Jesus.

Then, when they convinced Jesus to stay in the city for a few days, they told the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One indeed is the Savior of the world” (John 4:42 NAS).

The results with the crowd on the shores of the Sea of Galilee were much different. Because the people were not willing to learn what they needed to hear from Jesus, many of them who formerly considered themselves disciples of Jesus now withdrew from him and no longer walked with him.

Perhaps it is possible to see why they did this. After all, Jesus had said some very difficult things. It seems like his words were almost designed to separate those who truly were willing to put their trust in him from those who merely were looking for something to eat, and from those who followed him only to see the sideshow.

True Disciples

However, despite the difficult words, not everyone left. Jesus next turned to speak to his twelve closest disciples. They had witnessed all that had gone on. They had also heard these words. I don’t think that they quite understood all that Jesus was saying. These words were also difficult for them.

Jesus asked them, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

If it is possible to feel sorry for Jesus, I almost do here. Jesus did not assume that even the twelve would stay with him. He asked them a question. It was even a poignant question. He had come to the world to redeem the people and it is heartbreaking when they turn away from him, rejecting his offer. It is like offering someone you love deeply a great gift that has cost you dearly, and they throw it in your face.

“You do not want to go away also, do you?” he asked the twelve.

I am so glad Peter answered. These words of Jesus had also been difficult for them to hear, yet Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69 NAS).

That was Peter’s confession. What is yours? What is mine? Many of the teachings of Jesus have lately come under attack, and because some of the teachings of the Bible do not square with what we are seeing in society, many today have withdrawn from Jesus, and no longer walk with him.

My own confession is that there are many things contained in the Scripture that I do not yet understand, but like Peter, I have come to know that Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God. He alone provides the words of eternal life.

There is no one else who speaks these eternal words. Where else would I go?

I have given him everything.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


PART 2 of 3
(This post is Part 2. To read Part 1, please scroll down or click on the title on the right side of your screen)
With the previous post, we left the people with Jesus on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. “Rabbi, when did you get here?” they asked him. They could not work out in their minds how he could have gotten to that side.

 Jesus was quite short with his answer to them. “You seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate bread and were filled.”

We Came To Get Some More Bread

Again in the text, we have the subject of signs. The feeding of the five thousand, like the other miracles that Jesus performed, was meant not only to alleviate a difficult situation (in that case the hunger of the people), but also to demonstrate that Jesus was the prophesied and expected Messiah.

I think that at this point, Jesus was a little frustrated with these people. They were following him because they liked seeing his miracles, but they refused to see that these were truly signs – actions to demonstrate to them and to give them evidence that he was the Messiah. These were attesting miracles, meant to attest to the fact that he was the Christ.

These people did not see this. They only were happy that Jesus fed them, and now their stomachs were hungry again. They were ready for the next miracle.

Because of this, Jesus continued: “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father , even God, has set His mark” (John 6:27 NAS).

This statement of Jesus’ at least got them to think a little. “What should we do that we may work the work of God?” they asked.

Jesus answered, “This is the work that you should do – believe in him whom God has sent.”

By this time, the people at least knew that Jesus was referring to himself when he spoke of the person that God had sent. So they asked Jesus, “What are you going to do for a sign, to demonstrate to us that you are the Messiah. What work will you perform?”

The Gathering of Manna, Bernardino Luini, c 1520, Detail

The people continued, “Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness and it is written in the Scriptures, ‘He gave them bread to eat that came out of heaven’.”

We Need More Proof

Let’s stop and think about this a little. For some considerable time, the people had been following Jesus wherever he went. They followed him because they saw the signs – the attesting miracles. They had seen him heal the sick and even raise a boy who was at the point of death. Just the evening before, Jesus had fed a crowd of more than five thousand people with a handful of food.

Now, these same people are asking Jesus what sign he will perform so that they could believe in him. Added to that, they quoted Scripture to Jesus telling of the bread that came out of heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness hundreds of years before. This, to them, represented the kind of sign that they were looking for.

Do you see why I think that Jesus was becoming a little exasperated with them? He had just yesterday fed them with miraculous bread and even gave them some fish with their meal, and yet they had the cheekiness to ask for a sign like a provision of bread so that they could be convinced that he was the Christ. This on top of all of the other signs that they had already seen.

Bread For the Hungry, and Water For the Thirsty

With great patience, Jesus continues to teach them. “Moses may have given you bread from heaven,” he told them, “but it is my father who gives the true bread from heaven. The bread that comes from God is that which will gives life to the world.”

This at least got them interested. “Sir, give us this bread always,” they responded.

Jesus went on to explain to them what he meant. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst…for I have come down from heaven.”

It is interesting that in this statement of Jesus, he mentions not only bread from heaven, but also that he quenches all thirst. Thirst was not a topic in this conversation, but it brings to mind another talk that Jesus had had with someone else – perhaps not many days earlier. That conversation centered around the fact that Jesus was the source of “water of life.”
The Woman at the Well

This talk took place at a well outside of the city of Samaria. As Jesus sat alone in the shade next to the well, a woman from the city came to draw water. The conversation between Jesus and this woman began with the woman coming to the well for water, and Jesus asking her for a drink.

The woman inquired who Jesus was. He told her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give shall never thirst; but…shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 14 NAS).

The woman was interested in this. She thought that Jesus was talking about literal, liquid water. She thought that if she had this “living water,” she would never have to come to the well to draw water again.

Of course, Jesus was not talking about literal water, but about the life that he gives. As this conversation continued, he spoke of this to the woman, who gradually came to understand what he was saying. Not only did she come to understand, she also came to believe that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

(Conclusion in a couple of days)

Thursday, August 20, 2015


PART 1 of 3
Many of the disciples of Jesus, hearing what Jesus had just told them, responded, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”

It was not the twelve primary disciples who said this, but some others who had been following Jesus. By asking the question, “Who can listen to it?” they actually meant, “Who can accept it?” So offended were they by what Jesus said, that they left Jesus and no longer followed him in his teachings.

What was it that Jesus said that caused so much offense to his listeners? Let’s read his words and see if we also will be offended.

Jesus said this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves” (John 6:53 NAS).

We must admit, this is an astonishing statement. It was almost as if Jesus was going for the shock effect. What was it that could have made him make such a statement? Besides that, what did he mean by it?

This is one of those instances where it is not good to just take this statement alone and create a teaching out of it. Jesus did not say these words without a previous context. We need to go back in the story to see what was happening.

Jesus Christ – Superstar

At this time in the ministry of Jesus, he was extremely popular. Wherever he went, large crowds followed him. This was also the case when he spoke these words. In the second verse of John 6, it says a “great multitude” was following Jesus.

As you might suspect, the level of commitment of the people in this crowd varied a great deal. Some of them were merely curious about what was going on, while others where more devoted to the teachings of Jesus. Some of these were even devoted enough to be called disciples of Jesus. Of course, Jesus had his twelve inner circle of disciples, but many others in this crowd were known as disciples as well.

On the day before Jesus spoke the words that offended many of these disciples, he was at the Sea of Galilee. We are told that the multitude was following him because they were seeing the signs that he was performing on those who were sick. In other words, Jesus had been healing the ill and the infirm. It is understandable why this would attract a great crowd.

John calls these healings “signs.” The reason for this was because Jesus did the healings not only because he loved the people and felt pity for them, but also so that the people would realize that he was the long awaited Messiah, the Savior who was to come. His actions were the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy that indicated this. In other places, they are called “attesting miracles,” testifying to the fact that he was the Christ.

However, even though the miracles of Jesus were signs, to many of the people, they were merely amazing feats – nothing more than that. Jesus healed them, and they were glad of that. They also liked seeing him heal others.

With this great multitude following, Jesus went up on a mountain that was beside the Sea of Galilee. There he sat down. As he turned around and looked over the scene below, he saw all of these people who had been following him.

He asked Philip, one of his twelve disciples, “Where are we going to buy bread that these may eat?”
Mosaic at possible site of the feeding of the 5000

I will not go into the details of this story, but this is the account of the feeding of the five thousand. In a manner never before seen, Jesus used the lunch of a small boy, multiplied his five barley loaves and two fish, and fed this great multitude. The people got not only a bit of food to stave off their hunger, but they were able to eat as much as they wanted.

Crossing the Sea of Galilee

That night, the twelve disciples got into their boat to cross the sea, which even though it is called a sea, is really just a large lake. This is also the same account where during the night, Jesus came walking to them on the water when they were about four miles from land.

The multitude, whom Jesus had fed, had not seen Jesus leave. The next morning (I suppose that it was about breakfast time), they went looking for him. They knew that Jesus had not left with the twelve disciples on the night before, but they did not know what happened to him. They at last decided that Jesus must have found a way to cross the lake, so they got into other boats to go and look for him. They found him in a town called Capernaum.

“Rabbi, when did you get here?” they asked him. They could not work out in their minds how he could have gotten to that side.

 Jesus was quite short with his answer to them. “You seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate bread and were filled.”

(To be continued in a couple of days)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015



The predator expert who came out to look at my dead calf told me it was a coyote kill, not a wolf. He showed me the bare leg bones and the ribs, not ripped apart or crushed.

“A wolf breaks these joints in his jaws when he feeds,” the man told me as he held up a leg bone. “And the rib cage he also just takes in his mouth and crushes it completely.”
A couple of Sundays ago, part of my sermon in our church dealt with the shepherd boy David as he told King Saul how he had saved his lambs from bears and also from lions. He told the king that when the lion rose up to kill his lamb, he “grabbed the lion by the beard and smote him until he died.”

I commented in my sermon that had I been in a similar situation, I probably would have let the lion have just that one lamb. I realize now that I may have been wrong in that self-assessment. I do not claim a sudden extraordinary bravery, but I spoke at that time more as a disinterested observer. With the death of my calf, I have come to understand that David acted with the heart of a shepherd.

The Death of Corabelle
My little calf Corabelle had been a long-awaited calf. Not only did we wait so long for her to be born this year, but I have been waiting for three years. I bought her mother Cora three years ago when I started buying cows for my herd. Cora was already old when I bought her, but she was such a nice animal, and although no longer possessing the body of a youthful cow, she had a regal air about her. As she walks, she holds her head up high, as if she were an age-ed queen, walking before her subjects.

In the three years that I have had her, Cora has given birth to three calves. Every year I hoped for a heifer, but for two years she had given me bulls. Royalty in human institutions have historically wanted boy children to carry on the royal line, but I wanted a girl. I wanted a heifer to carry on Cora’s line. This year she finally arrived – less than one week ago. Vivian named her Corabelle. 

This morning as I walked out to see my cows, Corabelle was not with her mother. This is not altogether unusual, since the mother cows sometimes leave their calves sleeping while they graze. But that was not all that I noticed. Cora’s udder was very full and it looked like her calf had not nursed for some time. I became worried.

I went down into the woods that comprises part of the pasture where the cows had been, inwardly knowing what I would find. Somehow, I walked right to the site without searching around. There on the ground was the head of my Corabelle, with the bloody spine and leg bones attached. Everything else was gone.

Suddenly, I realized another dimension to having a shepherd’s heart, or in this case, a herdsman’s heart. My thoughts were not on financial loss, they were not how this impacted my plans. Much to my astonishment at my own actions, I just began wailing for this little life that had been lost. “My little Corabelle!” I cried over and over again.

The Awakening of the Shepherd's Heart
There are a couple of things that I must say here. The first is that I know that there are other tragedies that are exponentially more heart breaking that this one. “After all,” we could say, “It is only a farm animal and not a person.”

I know that this is true. I am not trying to compare the two. I only wish to say that this incident taught me something about a shepherd’s heart. When I was a boy, growing up on the farm, an unexpected or tragic death of an animal was something that happened from time to time. That is the reality of farming. This has always made me a bit sad, but never do I remember being as painful of heart as I did with the death of my calf this morning. It brought something out in me that I did not even know about myself.

It also helped me to understand how David could grab a lion by the beard and smite him until he died. There was no calculation on the part of David in doing this, no weighing the consequences. David was responsible for the sheep, and he would protect them and save them.
One winter day many years ago, when two of our sons were very small, Vivian came out to the woods where I was logging to see me. She was pulling a sled with the two boys in it, one of them about two years old, and the other only six months. Suddenly, she came upon a wolf, standing off to the side of the logging road. The wolf looked at her, and she at the wolf. Both Vivian and the wolf stared into the eyes of the other for a tense moment or two. Finally, the wolf put his head down, turned around and trotted off into the forest.

Vivian told me later, “If that wolf would have attacked my boys, I would have killed it with my bare hands.”

I believe she would have. Apparently, so did the wolf.

This is the heart of a mother, not a shepherd or a herdsman, but the need to protect those for whom you are responsible draws its energy from the same source. That is why, when there is a loss, the heartbreak is so severe. As I said, exponentially more severe is the loss of a child, but even with my calf, I was astounded to feel such grief. 

The Good Shepherd
Here is something else that this incident has taught me: I better understand what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

What I understand better today than I did yesterday is that we have no idea the lengths to which Jesus will go to save us. Indeed, he did lay down his life to save us, but in a certain way, that same protective heart of the shepherd continues to go to any lengths to bring us to safety. He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

Another thing that I understand better today than I did yesterday is that we also have no idea the grief that Jesus feels when one of us is lost, snatched up in the jaws of Satan. I was astonished at myself, how I wailed almost uncontrollably for this little lost calf. I cannot imagine the pain of our good shepherd when one of his is lost. 

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11-15 ESV)

Saturday, July 4, 2015


March 30, in the afternoon – The day of Effie

Effie was the first of my herd to give birth.
I found her calf lying on the cold spring earth.
The mother acted quite congenial this year,
Letting me pet her newborn calf on the ear.

April 11, about midday – The day of Flory

Flory is Effie’s calf from two years ago,
She wisely waited until after the snow.
Today at midday, in the warm April sun,
She had her little calf – it was her first one.

Two little bull calves frolic now on our hill,
And we are awaiting three little calves still.

April 24, just at the new dawn – The day of Maisie
Today as the sun was coming up yellow,
I heard my Maisie voice a fearful bellow.
She had just had her first calf up on the hill,

When two wolves appeared; they were ready to kill.

McTavish was there; he’s our bull of large horn,
Ready to protect one so recently born.
I also ran up. I was armed with my gun.
I shot and missed, but they set off on a run.

Our calves are now three, small bulls once, twice and thrice.
Bull calves are fine, but a heifer would be nice.

April 26, another early morning – The day of Agnes

This morning I went out to check on my herd,
Although during the night, they said not a word.
I counted the calves – one, two, three, but then four.
Our Agnes had given birth to one more.

When I tried to see this one born in the night,
The mom came at me as if ready to fight.
My neighbor tells me, “The wolves make them this way.”
“Cows were much calmer,” he says, “back in my day.”

But the good news is, from what I could see,
Agnes gave me a her, instead of a he.

May 26 – Waiting for Cora

Oh Cora, like last year we waited so long.
I know you are old now, and are not so strong.
But the wolves are gone – it has been a month now,
And McTavish and I would fight for our cow.

June 26 – Still waiting
One thing with Cora – she cannot be hurried.
But I must say, I’m a little bit worried,
Worried that something had developed amiss.
Cora is old, perhaps too old to for this.

But Cora lies chewing her cud unconcerned.
With age comes patience, and there’s much she has learned.

July 1 – The Day of Cora

Today I saw Cora off standing alone
Away from the herd and just out on her own.
This is not common for my gregarious cows.
My interest was stirred, my excitement aroused.

I slowly walked up and went down on one knee,
And her new little calf walked right up to me.
Standing right by me, I could easily tell…
A girl, a little Cora, a Corabelle!
This is the story of my herd for this year.
Some waiting. Some hoping. Even some fear.
By God’s good grace, I have a fine, healthy herd.
By God’s faithfulness, he was true to his word.

Saturday, June 27, 2015



In a decision last Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has now made it legal in the United States for same-sex couples to be married. All weekend, I expect that there will be great celebrations all over America. A lot of joy, many words of congratulations, and much talk of the “great victory” for gay rights.

But some of us are solemn. Some of us are subdued. Some of us feel that men and women with same sex physical attraction have lost yet another friend and ally in their lives – that of the federal government.

In God’s message to us, he mentions that governments are meant to have positive influences on society. The Apostle Paul puts it this way: “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God…For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil” (Romans 13:1, 3).

That is the ideal. That is when government is doing its job. Historically, our government has been quite good at this, recognizing those things which are in harmony with the way we are meant to live under the higher law of God, and discouraging actions that are contrary to God’s plan for society. But in this case, our government has now failed.

God has also made it plain in his word that he has a design for society, and the recognition of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle is not part of that plan. If this be the case, we then ask, “Why has he made some people who have same-sex attraction? Why has he made some people who believe they are of one gender in their physical body, but the other gender in their soul?”

These are legitimate questions and one that I, at least, am not able to answer. However, I do know that we all have aspects about us in our nature that are not acceptable to God. All of us have tendencies that, if we would let them loose, would turn us against God.

I think at least part of the answer to the two questions above, is that some of our purpose here on this earth is to realize that our relationship to God is of preeminent importance – above all else in our lives. So important is it, that we will fight against any natural tendency that we have that is contrary to God’s society.

We should not think that God is “singling out” homosexuals. There are many other things about our natural tendencies that are contrary to God’s society.

Here is something else that the Apostle Paul wrote: “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, no adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB)

That is quite a list, and I can tell you, there are at least a couple of those tendencies in that list that I have struggled with. Quite frankly, there are one or two that I still do struggle with. However, there is a difference between struggling against unrighteous tendencies and giving in to them; even having pride in them.

When a person is struggling against some of these, they need all the help that they can get. A government that promotes these things is not a help. In fact, the government then becomes their adversary. In the list above as written by Paul, we see that for all but a couple of them, our government is doing what it can by making them illegal, or at least discouraging them. And it is at least partially effective. There is only one of these that have become proud of their tendency, and in fact associate the word “pride” with it.

I am sorry that the Supreme Court has now taken away an ally of those who struggle against homosexual tendencies in their lives. In spite of the fact that the gay community sees this as a great victory, I believe a friend of theirs has been taken away.

I am thankful that the evil that is within me is still recognized by society as a whole as something that is indeed harmful. I take no pride in those things and I continue to seek to live my life in a manner that is accordance to God’s society. After all, I shall one day live my life fully in the kingdom of God, so I may as well do some cross-cultural preparations.
You may also wish to read some recent posts regarding this subject at:

Friday, June 26, 2015


(This is the conclusion of the two previous posts. To read parts 1 and 2, please scroll down or select the title on the right side of the screen)

In all three of the cases that I wrote about in the previous two posts, that of David, of Moses, and of Jehoshaphat, the lesson was clear to them that it was the Lord that gave the victory. I am not saying that they, as men, did nothing at all, for each was involved with an activity of some kind. Each did as they were instructed, but each understood well that it was God who provided the salvation from their situations. 

John the Baptist

The people in all of these situations were thinking mostly about salvation from their immediate and severe circumstances. But when God speaks of the salvation that he brings, he has more in mind merely than our present difficulties.

When John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, he spoke of this. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah referred to John as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight…the crooked shall become straight, and the rough roads smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God’” (Luke 3:4-6 NAS emphasis added). 

Giants, Oceans and Armies

In our own lives, we all pass through difficulties of one kind or another. Perhaps none of us as severe as these examples in the Bible. Nevertheless, some struggles that we pass through can be quite severe indeed. We also seek salvation from our troubles and help with our needs. The most important lesson that we can learn from these examples from the Bible is that, although these men did their tasks as they were instructed by God, they looked completely to the Lord for the salvation.

Some of us have difficulties in our lives that perhaps have even become chronic and debilitating in one way or another. Maybe you have some situation that you have been dealing with for years. Perhaps it even seems as though this problem has been with you for your entire life. You have been seeking for relief, freedom or salvation by various means, only to find yourself still entrapped.

What these lessons from the Bible show us is that there is no true salvation apart from God. We can try what we want, but only God can give freedom. But it does not come automatically. It often takes desperation on our part.

If your relationship to God is merely just one of many aspects of your life equal to other things that you do, then you will not know freedom in this life. If you worship God only when you have time or when it is convenient to you, you will not know relief from your situation. The Red Sea will be before you and will not part, the giant will not fall, and you will be routed by the enemies that that oppose you.

We need to learn that our relationship to God is ultimately the only important aspect of our lives.

It is amazing to me that when people make God the only aspect of their living that is of ultimate importance, the things that have plagued them their entire lives often just seem to go away. They just disappear. This does not happen to those who merely give God a polite nod once in a while. It does not happen for those who simply read the Bible on occasion and gather to worship with other believers at church sporadically a few times a year.

Freedom comes only to those who realize that they are nothing without God. It come to those who are desperate for God.

We need to learn to cry out to God. Moses did. Jehoshaphat did.

Pick almost any of the Psalms written by David, and you will see him constantly crying out to God. It was God who delivered all of these men. 

It is my great privilege to tell you that the message of God has not changed. Here is what the Lord says and here is why I count it a privilege to tell you: 

From the prophet Isaiah:

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the LORD restores Zion.

Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.

The LORD has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10 NAS)