I used to have sheep, about a dozen ewes and a big ram named Joe. This combination resulted in about twenty lambs in the spring. Once these little ones discovered the wonderful world beyond the teat, they became a huge problem.
The ewes and Joe would happily eat the grass in the center of the field, but the young ones would walk around the perimeter of the pasture always testing the fence.
In the Modern West, “Our vision of freedom is primarily socio-political, with the greatest threat to human flourishing being the other, whether the Nazi, the slave-owner, or the autocrat.” The ancient conception of freedom is much different. They had “what could be called a more religious or philosophical vision of liberty, the greatest threat to human flourishing is the lack of wisdom, phronesis, or virtue” (Hunger Games and Dystopia).
If my young sheep could get out, they would. This was a problem; outside the fence was death.
Death came in two forms. The first was coyotes. I don’t suppose any further explanation is needed on this point, but let’s say there no sheep would survive the night.
The second threat was grain. I had a lot of whole corn and high protein pellets on the farm to feed the 4,000 pigeons. There were also various grain-based feeds for the cows, sheep, pigs and horses. If these lambs got into any of this feed their behavior was predictable—they’d gobble up too much for their digestive systems to handle and they’d die. I’d find them with their legs sticking in the air.
Sheep eat grain with a kind of desperate ecstasy. I know this, because we fed it to them regularly. A few cups per day. If you ask a young sheep what he’d wish for if he could have anything, he’d ask for a pile of grain, and, the next time you saw him, he’d be on his back and his tongue would be blue.
When the Bible refers to people as sheep, don’t picture the white fluffy ones you see in all the Sunday school books. Picture one that spends all day striving for the glorious freedom beyond the fence.