Almost anyway. For two months John has been closing shop on his sheep operation. Most of the equipment has been sold and picked up and all but three sheep have moved on to greener pastures - not literally, it is nearly winter in Iowa. Once the State Fair was over, John made the decision to not go through another lambing year with his flock of nearly sixty ewes. It was just too much work; he was getting worn out. He has been putting in 16 hour days for way too many years and the cold is brutal on his tired bones.
This time has been coming for several years but it finally all worked out quite perfectly this year. Most of the ewes were already off the farm being bred, leaving just the show lambs to disperse. One by one they were sorted. Most of the ewe lambs joined the rest of the flock for future breeding. The wethers were either saved for the last show in Louisville, KY mid-November or purchased to continue to be shown by someone else, or the last three remain in the barn waiting for the next trailer ride to the Colfax sale barn.
God richly blessed us during the sheep showing years. The quality of the lambs improved each year due to better rams and breeding plans. We were able to watch our grandchildren learn and improve with each new year of show lambs. They moved from being novices to winning statewide showmanship awards. We watched our boys, now fathers, teach their children the best of the techniques in shearing and showing and saw the pride in their faces as they excelled.
There was no mass exodus to watch. Instead, the barn numbers just gradually decreased to the point of being empty. I'm thankful it happened this way. It would have been very sad to watch them all leave at once. I think this helped John, too. He has only felt good about his decision and relieved to have the hard work behind him. The last of the manure has been spread and the empty barns are ready for their next use.
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:6-7 NIV).