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“Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Lord Acton wrote so many years ago.

We Americans should all be afraid that we are becoming a potent corrupting influence on our President-elect.

We are giving him this power over us if we allow him to trump the best conclusions of our intelligence community just by one word, “ridiculous.”

We are giving him this power when he can twitter away the warnings of the scientific community, and the resolve of the community of nations, and call manmade climate change a hoax.

We are giving him this power when he can wave off every legitimate and fact-based news story and complaint about his sexist remarks and actions, or his racist remarks and actions about our sitting President, by simply denying them and then tweeting or shouting that other people are far worse.

Donald J. Trump already has shown an outlandish willingness to bully his way into legitimacy by saying everyone else is wrong and he is right. Republicans leaders, the media, scientists, the intelligence community, the establishment–they are all wrong if they disagree with him. He is right.

The President of the United States is called the “leader of the free world” and the “most powerful person on earth.” We should be loathe to allow him to go beyond even that by usurping all power– by allowing him to trump truth itself. We must not allow him to put us all in the absurd position of closing our eyes and our ears to well-established fact and rationalize his pronouncements.

We must not allow any one man to tell the BIG LIE and leave the rest of us to clean up the Big Mess.

Winter Pounces

Advent is perfectly placed in the liturgical and meteorological calendar. It provides a natural faith lesson. Jesus says, “Stay awake! Be ready!”

This was a winter arrival to test readiness. The sheep were grazing on lush grass right up to December 3. Then winter pounced like a deep darkness burglar on December 4. The weatherman predicted a few inches, and nine fell. With the fat flakes falling I was hoping our friend would retrieve his bunch that were grazing with mine, and he finally arrived pulling a huge trailer. The friend and Connie and I worked as briskly as we could to do the last minute tweaking to the feeders, spread the straw, fill the water trough, sort off his sheep, load them and send them off. Then good old, dependable Nell helped me get the ram and wether to their places and our ewes into theirs, with their feed and fresh water.

None too soon. Dark and more snow were closing in. And one more black mark against me in the readiness department, I realized I had not cleared two medium sized trees I had cut from near the porch on the barn, and one of them was well covering my blade that I put on the rear of the tractor to plow. So we had to hire someone to do our plowing for the first big (surprise) snowfall.

Since those nine inches we have had about eight more the last couple of days, and plummeting temperatures. There had only been hints of frost right up to December 3, but I don’t think it has been above freezing in the nine days since. And temperatures will be well below zero much of the time this coming week.

One more thing to note about winter. We feed the birds. We have a biggish feeder we fill with a wild bird mix, another with sunflower seeds, and a suet holder. But through the years our colony of house sparrows that live in the barn, and more and more in our garage, has grown and grown through the years. Every time I look out at the feeders there is a crowd of at least 100 of these sparrows–these mice with wings.

It is getting very hard to sing, “All things bright and beautiful…the Lord God made them all…” as we watch the sparrow hoards devour the wild bird feed. We have already gone through an entire 50 pound bag of the stuff in less than a week, and I don’t think we can keep up with the expense, especially when the birds muck up all the horizontal surfaces of the barn, and have taken a liking to a huge nest they have built right over our car in the garage.

And we are feeding them at quite an expense.

Yes, the Lord God made them all. Yes a sparrow cannot fall to the ground that the Lord doesn’t accompany it. But we do have to find some balance here. I have hoped for a nice, voracious owl–one that the Lord God made as well, to set up shop in one of our lovely trees.

The Animals Teach Us Advent Expectation

‘Tis the season for expectation. Pregnant waiting. Yearning flavored with confidence. Confidence born of experience.

Advent has always been a favorite time for me. Of course, as a child, it all led up to that moment when we drove home from Christmas Eve pageant, past the colored lights on the homes and along the runways of Standiford Airport in Louisville, and then walked through the door of our house to find all the presents that had magically appeared in that short two hours we were away.

But even that moment would have been emptied of effect if not for the weeks of deliciously eager anticipation.

Older now, we wait and watch for something far more holy. And here at Heatherhope we are daily treated to instructive demonstrations of the profundity of this vigil.

In the winter, our flock of North Country Cheviot sheep is completely dependent on us to meet their needs for water, mineral, and, of course, hay. If we let them they would eat twice as much as they need, so we put hay out for them. And since sheep normally have two active eating times a day, we feed them twice a day. But we can never take them by surprise. Their bodies are tuned to the routine. When they hear our shuffling footsteps on the gravel path, or our squeaks in the snow, they all turn their heads expectantly in our direction. When I load up the hay on my shoulders and come through the gate into the feedlot, numbers 238, 248 and 241 especially rub up against me all the way to the feeders.

Our fat cat, Smeagol, is an even better teacher of Advent anticipation. From morning till night he knows the meaning of time. At sun-up he is at the basement door, making it pound his alarm to get me to let him up and feed him. Since I reliably squeeze off a little of the “pill pockets” I use to give Abbie her morning thyroid pill and put it in his food dish he rubs on my leg till I fulfill that promise. He sits and quacks at us as we finish our cereal knowing either Connie or I will let him lick the last bit of our milk. When he sees us just about to eat dinner he paces near his dish again, counting on us giving him a few of his nuggets, called “Temptations.” Finally, when we go to the bathroom to wash up before bed, Smeagol quacks again in earnest, knowing we have “trained him” into sleeping in the basement by putting out a bit of canned cat food for him. When I descend the stairs I have to be especially mindful not to trip over him because of his repeated leg rubbing.

Then there are the dogs. A follower of Martin Luther recorded this morsel of table talk:

“When Luther’s puppy happened to be at the table, looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes, he [Martin Luther] said, “Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope.”
If Luther had had a Border Collie, how much more would he have been impressed? Laser-eyed, they are beyond focused. They are taut.

And my do they anticipate! I give a bit of cattle-injectable Ivomec to our dogs to ward off heartworm disease. It is concentrated. It must taste absolutely awful. So, when I come into the kennel and fill a tiny syringe to squirt about a quarter of a milliliter into the back of each dog’s mouth, they all start to circle in their cages. As I approach each one, that one licks its lips and turns away from me. They can taste bitterness before it reaches their mouths.

Of course, the most thrilling thing for a sheepdog is work. So whenever I first enter the kennel, the dogs all sit utterly spellbound. They watch my every movement in rapt attention. And when I reach to release the gate of any one of them, that one charges out; but all the others explode in sound until I go out the door. I know I have not been the best of trainers, because others have been able to break their Border Collies of this habit; but I have given up trying. In fact, apart from being annoyed by the ear-splitting din of it all, I am impressed, as Martin Luther was with his puppy–with the intense focus and heartfelt eagerness of the dogs.

Isaiah tells us that those who wait for the Lord renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles.

The faithful are waiting not in mere resignation, not hopelessly, not because they have nothing better to do; but they wait and watch in sure confidence. They have good reason to count on the Lord.

Hunger, thirst. Reaching, straining, hurrying upward. Knowing, known, seeing the not yet. Tasting it.

Animals show the way. All creation waits with eager longing.

Make Room for Tears

Make Room for Tears:

Reflections on Readings for Pentecost 19 C

Amos 6:1a, 4-7, 1 Timothy 6: :6-19 and Luke 16:19-31

 

 

Here’s to the millions embarrassed by tears.

They turn away. They stare at their feet. They avoid company and even cancel their doctors’ appointments and stand up and walk out on church services.

There is a name for them: “Bleeding hearts.” Sometimes those they love think them weak and take offence or look for a divorce.

But I say, “Hallelujah! Your soul is still alive!”

This Sunday in the Church year the Word warns us that while poverty is hard on people, wealth can be even worse. The Lord is on the side of the oppressed and will always provide. We pray for daily bread–for just enough to get us through the day, and the Lord always provides. If not bread for the body, then bread for the spirit that commands the body.

But too much is deadlier for the soul than too little. It seduces. It sedates. It weighs down.

Perhaps above all, too much stuff carries with it too much attending worry. Each little thing we build our lives around has the potential to become part of our superstructure of life. We begin to think it is something we not only enjoy, or like, but also need. It is part of our identity.

And with that notion of need, comes the worry. If it malfunctions or wears out or is stolen, what, in heaven’s name, shall we do?

Before long we have filled up our souls with so much worry that we begin to believe we haven’t the capacity to care for anything else.

“Charity begins at home!” we declare. And we have so much to worry about at home that charity ends there too.

That is why it seems so weak and silly and delusional to cry about that homeless beggar at the off ramp or those Syrian refugees.

When you have so much you need so much and you worry so much and there simply isn’t any more room for tears for others. Of course we disguise the worry with more stuff – pills, booze, entertainment; and all the things we call the good life. But it still fills our souls they die of too much that never feels like enough.

(Not to mention the defenses we erect to protect our souls from the good tears of repentance. When we are privileged any talk of equality sounds like oppression to our ears.)

So poverty hurts, but wealth can kill the soul. Ease can make us numb. We wind up like the rich man in Jesus’ parable who deftly steps over and around miserable Lazarus at his garden gate.

What does God do to help us when we have so much more than enough that we fall into a drunken stupor of the soul?

God sends us the prophets: Moses, the other Old Testament prophets, the apostles, and latter-day gadflies who poke and prod us till we can make room in our lives for tears again.

The author of 1 Timothy rouses these prophetic voices in the church to command. He calls for an echo of Jesus’ “new commandment” that we love one another as he has loved us. We might not be able to legislate morality, but Jesus and the prophets can and must command it.

There are several parts to this command. First, we are commanded to make room in our hearts for tears once again by pushing back all that worry about the things we want, but we don’t really need. You should be discontent about the “ruin of Joseph” Amos says–be stirred up by the sickness in the society around you. But that means you have to be less worried about your own comfort. So the author of 1 Timothy tells teachers in the church to command Christians, “Be content with food and clothing–the “daily bread” you pray for.”

Then 1 Timothy also calls on prophetic church teachers to command the wealthy “not to be haughty,” i.e. not to think of their wealth as conferring status or worth. Don’t build your hope on your riches–on your stuff. Stuff can and will always let you down. Turn away from “the Devil and all his empty promises” we used to say in our baptism liturgy. But rely on God who is the one who provides what we need AND what truly brings joy in life. And the best way to do this–to set hope in God–is to do good. That is, to be generous in sharing whatever you have with others who have less.

Mixing It Up with God

Exodus 32: 7-14

Reading for the 17th Sunday After Pentecost, Year C

 

Fundamentalists insist on a God of their predicting.
Fanatics, it is said, do what God would do if God had all the facts.
Atheists contend so much with the small god of small minded people that, eventually, they are incapable of considering any other.
These and many others think they think what God is thinking.

None of these have yet understood the freedom of God and the way God has bound God’s self to us.

The little story in Exodus 32 tells us two shocking things about God. First, God’s thinking changes. Second, it is changed by the compassion of a single human being.

The Hebrews have followed Moses and the Lord into freedom. But they have to make it through a wilderness to get to the promised land. How inconvenient. So they turn from thankfully and humbly following this God and make for themselves a golden calf idol. The Lord then burns in righteous wrath saying, “Step aside so that I may let my fierce anger consume these people. Do this and I’ll make you a great nation.”

But Moses’ compassionate heart would not let him thirst for greatness at so great a cost. He calls on the Lord to have a change of mind and change of purpose–to remember the covenant he has made with the Hebrews and forgive their sin.

The Lord then does, in fact, change course and forgives.

The God of the Bible, then, is not bound by our reasoned sense of consistency. This God changes to stay the same, covenanted God. This covenant and this picture of God is so radical that it involves a partnership in creative and redemptive activity.

God forgives because of Moses. God hears the cries of Moses and of the people.

God is fully involved in our reality, and change is at the heart of our reality. Time changes things. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands are constantly changing. Believers and unbelievers are ever changing. If parents are to love their children today, tomorrow and forever, they must change the way they think and show that love. A faithful, committed God changes.

When we are psychically battered we want fairness. We want consistency and predictability. We want God to be solid ground.

That God has created, redeemed and lives and acts fully within this dynamic world troubles us until we begin to understand the vastness of it all. Then we are overwhelmed–awestruck. Then we are set free to love the freedom of God and the power of the conversation between us.

In 1520 Martin Luther wrote the following:
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.

The Christian is free to bind her- or himself to others in love. The startling, radical freedom and range of God’s love has made this possible.

This Place

We had a Rocky Mountain family gathering. Our son, Jeremiah, and his fiancé, Caroline; along with our daughter, Rebekah, and her husband, Mike, joined us for a week on the mountainside in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Connie and I drove our new car back down out of the mountains toward home. With each thousand feet of elevation drop our brains received more oxygen and we both began to think more clearly. We talked about the wonderful conversations we had and how great it is to know our children are coupled up so well and that we all get along so well with compatible political and social values and a mutual love of nature.

But as we sped east I was also struck by this thought: The Rockies possess an amazing beauty and ruggedness, but our little spot in northern Illinois has its own rich character. I need to open my eyes and heart wider to it.

There are words for this idea: “Bloom where you are planted,” and “there’s no place like home,” and I’m sure many more. I have a sketchy memory of an old parable about a man on a quest for spiritual treasure that takes him all over the world until he finally realizes that treasure was right there where he started.

But the plain fact is that Connie and I live on a farm with 43 ample acres of home place to contemplate and to treasure.

The task now is to get to know it better and better.

So, I intend to make this just the first in what I hope will be a long series of postings that will evolve into a fairly extensive permanent offering on our web site, all exploring both the natural and social history of our farm. We know a small bit already:

  • This place was carved by eons of plate tectonics and water flow, and then flattened and carved again by the last ice age.
  • Prairies, woods, rivers and lakes and fantastic soil turned it into a land teeming with life.
  • A succession of native American people’s passed and settled and passed again, before being cruelly harassed and driven off by European settlers. The Blackhawk War was one of the final, shameful local episodes of this.
  • Our particular farm was among the first to be settled by those Europeans after the natives were unjustly driven out.
  • After its great fire of 1871 much of the timber used in the rapid rebuilding of the city of Chicago came from Ohio Grove, a wooded area just to the east of our farm.

 

But I intend now to do research to fill in the many gaps in my understanding. The first book I bought in my newborn zeal to appreciate this place is by Joel Greenberg. It is the fruit of his own 17 year project to bring together and pass on a deeper understanding of what this area has always had to offer, and how we have often squandered its bounty. The book is A Natural History of the Chicago Region, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2002.

I share with readers one quote from the first chapter of the book, about the natural forces that shaped this region around our farm and it’s remarkable diversity of landscape and life:

That diversity brought to the land an almost unimaginable fertility and an abundance of life that in some manifestations was unrivaled by any other terrestrial environment on earth.

 

My first thought after reading this selection, was that the increasing special fertility and abundance is quite evident when driving east to this region from the Rockies. Since childhood I have thrilled at the majesty and grandeur of mountains. But the harshness of conditions there does certainly place limits on the kinds and amount of life that the landscape can support. The corn growing in the sand hills of western Nebraska is stunted indeed, and as we travel east it grows taller and greener. And nowhere is it more productive than right here in our back yard.

My second thought was to our conflicted human relationship to those very phenomena of fertility and diversity. I have noted before in my blog postings (“Weeding God’s Garden)  the odd feeling I have as I go out to do almost daily warfare with thistles and other noxious weeds on our acres. I spray. I hack. I mow. cut. I spray and cut again. Just trying to keep vines from swallowing up my house’s air conditioner is an almost daily chore. But it seems a losing game. Each year it is a slightly different mix of weeds, but it is always amazing to see the overwhelming growth. This year it is pig weed, velvet leaf, giant ragweed (again), and those awful thistles. And I swear the thistles can grow a foot in a couple of days and the ragweed in places now stands 15 feet high!

Greenberg’s comment, however, puts things in perspective. I murmur and grumble and even curse right out loud as I fight back the weeds and clean off the abundant bird poop from the car. but now I can remember that it all comes with the God-given nature of this place. In our zeal to control the kinds of life we will allow to thrive we have bulldozed this land and poisoned it to get rid of the native grasses and flowers. And yet the land retains this heritage of plenty. The soil is still black because in it has grown the most prolific tall grasses and flowering plants in all world and all geologic history.

So this place has been “unrivaled by any other terrestrial environment on earth.” This has been one of God’s favorite laboratories–one of God’s favorite playgrounds.

This place is still brimming over with life, despite neglect and abuse from the human race.

We are slow to learn, but this place is sacred. This place is holy. This place, when you know something about it, is thrilling.

Seek Truth or Shut Up

What a miraculous time to be alive! Anyone with a smart phone can broadcast photos of cute puppies, videos or their friends prancing or pranking…or their opinions.

Opinion is too wimpy a word for it. Anyone and everyone can share their ecstasy or their rage. And everyone has access to a digital assault weapon to spray the entire world with their ideas.

So, I beg of you, my dear, precious reader. Beware! Beware of the wholesale hacking of the truth. Beware of the lies, damned lies, statistics and character assassinations out there. Beware of the flood of cyber propaganda we are constantly subjected to.

If you insist on reading or listening to so-called “social media,” blogs (this one included), Twitter and insta-everything, please, please take pains to ground yourself by giving preference to time-tested journalism–the old style of journalism that strives for fact-checking, objectivity and fairness. Yes, it is not the kind of journalism that rides the wave of coolness. It is not the next big thing. It is slow and careful, because it is principled.

For a start try the New York Times, BBC News, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Service, and Politico.

Of course there is no such thing as a completely bias free person or outlet for news and opinion. Of course there are people who love to criticize these outlets. But these are institutions that do strive for objectivity and fairness and fact-checking. They distinguish between news and opinion. They provide an invaluable service to anyone who wants to be a well informed citizen.

I hope that includes you.

And may I add, at the risk of sounding harsh, if you don’t take pains to be grounded in solid, truthful reporting and opinion, the least you can do is shut up.

Weeding God's Garden

Whose Dominion?

We just turned over from spring to summer. Everything is growing. It is a time to test my resolve to respect God’s dominion and consider my own.

I go out, armed with my tank full of 2,4-D strapped to my ATV, my sprayer wand in hand. It’s not hard to fancy myself seated high in an incredible, cosmic killing machine, like one of those “walkers” that the Empire used against Luke Skywalker and his Rebel Alliance. I scan for thistles, ragweed or burdock and I shoot to kill.

And it is a war out there! Every year–no, every week and every day–those damned thistles take over more territory. They produce seeds by the millions that can fly in with the wind. Their burs, and the burs of the burdock, can tangle themselves in the wool of the sheep. They are ugly and nasty and downright evil. And they spread like a plague. So much so that I can go out to whack down a few of them that are too near to producing seed heads, and when I cut a few down others magically appear. More and more and more.

And then there are the house sparrows and starlings, those nasty little specimens of invasive species, who have taken over every horizontal space in the barn, clogging up shelves and sliding doors, splashing everything with their poop, and driving out the lovely, bug eating barn swallows. This is their time too. Nesting everywhere and decidedly not practicing birth control.

To top it all off, yesterday we completed the hoof trimming of my ewe flock, and low and behold, one ewe was bleeding from a foot infection, and many of the others had spots where the hoof wall was separating from the foot.

Bacteria! Foot scald and/or foot rot bacteria that loves the wet, fast growing grass.

But yesterday was also the time of bliss and majesty. I exercised the Border Collies quietly on my mountain/comfort bike. It was a perfect cool temperature, with a gentle breeze wafting the grasses, soybeans, young corn plants, trees and flowers all about. Before we even started out I was delighted by a show of newly fledged barn swallows from nests in our garage, flying very near me and finally perching on a slack bit of cable hanging from the overhead door while their parents did their vigilant swooping and managed to scoop up a fine breakfast of gnats at the same time.

Biking along the tree line I tuned my ears to the sounds of robins, blue jays, and one with a flute-like song that is almost as beautiful as my favorite wood-thrush song. It’s always an added excitement to not be able to name a bird–gives us something to think about. But this one could be a cowbird–the birds abandoned as eggs by their mothers–planted in the nests of other species.

Along the grassy west border of our property were wrens and meadowlarks, flitting from post to post as we passed by. Red-winged blackbirds and killdeer were there too, though not as many as before the hay was first cut some weeks past.

And when I do ride with the dogs I make a habit of attending to the grandeur…the majesty…the overwhelming, infinitely complex beauty of it all. I brush aside the modern tendency to peer and dissect and scientificize it all, overlaying what I have learned from books and controversies over climate change and carbon-foot-printing, and fooling myself into thinking that I comprehend. I work at not working at it and letting myself be part of it all. I work at being rightly in awe at God’s handiwork.

All of that was in the morning. The beauty and the peace. Then came the foot-trimming and the realization that with the lush grasses come the invasive bacteria. Then the foray of the deadly walker with me at the helm, wielding my 2,4-D ray gun. Me against Nature, trying to push back against that part of Life that I could not cope with, trying to carve out a bit of a profit margin. After all, our accountant warned us that the feds would begin to question our operational losses. Was this farm ever going to be a serious enterprise? I had so much poison in my tank and why not just keep spraying even those weeds that were not a menace?

Isn’t this a constant tension–an ongoing moral tension? Life itself is a battle–a necessary carving out of space in order for us to have identity and to feed ourselves and survive. And theologically we are given a huge green light as Jews and Christians, when Genesis and Psalm 8 both say we are given dominion over the earth and its contents. It is all ours to work with.

But how far do we push? If we are wise we are checked by that declaration that all ultimate dominion belongs to God alone. Our rule is subservient to God’s. We are tenants. We are stewards. There is never a time when it is not God’s to rule (Psalm 22.28 and Revelation 1.6).

In Leviticus we can see a biblical moment in the history of our human grappling with the dominion issue. How far can we go with our power trip? The rule is that we should not exercise dominion harshly. Slavery is harsh, so if our fellow Israelites should come on bad times and have to sell themselves to us, we should treat them not as slaves, but as indentured servants and afford them human rights. We should signal our recognition of God’s ultimate dominion by freeing these people during the year of Jubilee. But the text goes on: Let’s not take this too far. If we obtain slaves from non-Israelites, or if the slaves are non Israelites themselves, slavery is magically okay (Lev. 25.39-46). The biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan sees this as a self serving giant loophole that was written into biblical casuistry to allow us to soften the radical righteousness of God and go with the flow of the abusive, dominant culture around us. Scores of decades later our Puritan forefathers, trying to carve out a righteous empire, utilized similar casuistry saying they would not be slave holders, except if other impure people just happened to sell those slaves to them, or the slaves were simply savages taken in justly fought battle. Another whopper of a loophole. Another useful weapon to help us carve out a dominion in the North American wilderness.

In many ways we are all out there, tempted to use every weapon we can get our hands on to drive back anything that threatens our exploitation of the environment. We get sucked into an ever escalating war. It is too easy to forget the fact that we rule our little piece of turf, and together, as a species, we can strut about the whole earth unopposed, but we go too far when we forget that we must do it all under the ultimate dominion of the God of justice. This is God’s garden we are tending.

 

 

 

 

Farm Stroll-Meet and Greet Lambs

Last year we were a part of the first ever Farm Stroll coordinated by the University of Illinois Extension in DeKalb County. Families and individuals could visit a number of small, specialized farms in the county, and many of them enjoyed their visit to Heatherhope Farm where we told the story of sheep farming and showed off the skills of our Border Collie herding dogs.

This year the Extension Service has asked us once again to participate in this event, and they have tentatively planned it for Sunday, July 24, from noon to 5 p.m. There will be 12 farms taking part in this year’s Stroll, from a nearby bee keeper to “you pick” berries to a local whiskey distillery. For further information about the Stroll contact Andy Larson, Local Foods and Small Farms Educator at 815-732-2191.

Young lambs delight in putting their new legs to the test! Come to the Farm Stroll/Meet and Greet to see them in action. Photo by John

Young lambs delight in putting their new legs to the test! Come to the Farm Stroll/Meet and Greet to see them in action. Photo by John

We will make this event also serve as our 2016 “Meet and Greet the Lambs” event. John had shoulder surgery this year and so we decided not to breed from our own ewes. If a ewe had a difficult lambing John’s sore shoulder wouldn’t allow him to wrestle with the ewes and deliver the lambs. But we do have some lambs grazing here, owned by a friend of ours who needed to take advantage of our excess pasture. So we can show off those lambs on the day of the Farm Stroll.

We will put on sheepdog herding demonstrations at 12:15, 2:30, and 4:00 p.m. In between we will describe what it takes to raise sheep and let people tour around and meet Bilbo the “gentle giant” guardian dog.

Come along and bring a picnic lunch. We have plenty of space at picnic tables and on the two decks of the house.

You can e-mail or phone us for further information. Click on the “contact us” tab at the top of any page on our web site.

 

It's great fun to pet a lamb. Photo by M. Gezing

It’s great fun to pet a lamb. Photo by M. Gezing

Herding Dog Demonstrations, 2017

Our Border Collies will show how stock dogs help farmers at the demonstrations throughout the year.

Our Border Collies will show how stock dogs help farmers at  demonstrations throughout the year.

Several times a year we load up some of our sheep and our Border Collies and travel to festivals to put on demonstrations. They are herding dog demonstrations, but much more. As the dogs amaze the crowds with their focused determination and quiet control of the sheep, we discuss the history of the dog-human relationship, sheep farming around the world, and ways people can improve their relationships with their own pets.

We will begin this year’s series of demonstrations at beautiful, historic Kline Creek Farm, part of the DuPage County (Illinois) Forest Preserve system. This will be their Lamb and Wool event on Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23. We will demonstrate from 10 a.m. to near closing time at 4 p.m. Entrance to the farm and the event is free. The address is 1N600 County Farm Road, West Chicago, IL, 60185 and the phone number there is 630-876-5900. The farm’s web site is at www.dupageforest.com/klinecreekfarm.  Last year this event attracted 2,700 people who thrilled at the work ethic of our dogs.

On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, May 27, we will be at St. James Farm for their Family Field Day, doing demonstrations from 11 a.m. to near 5 p.m. This event also attracts thousands of people  with events that show off horses, dogs, dairy cows, along with hayrides, guided tours, fishing, food and all sorts of things for families to do together. For more information 630-580-7025 or go to www.dupageforest.com. The main entrance to the farm is on the east side of Winfield Road, just north of Butterfield Road near Warrenville, IL.

On Sunday, August 6, we will be at Naper Settlement in Naperville, Illinois for their “Naperville Plays” event. We believe this is the first event of this design at the Settlement, which is a living history site.  The schedule of our demonstrations hasn’t been settled yet. But you can visit the settlement’s web site, www.napersettlement.org as we get closer to the date, or phone 630-420-6010 for more information.

We anticipate scheduling other demonstrations for this summer and fall, so check back at this page from time to time.