Injury Causes Cancellation of Epiphany at Heatherhope

We are sad to announce that our annual Epiphany gathering at Heatherhope, set for January 6, 2013, has been cancelled due to an injury that Connie has sustained.

Connie suffered a broken hip several days before Thanksgiving and will not be able to put weight on her right leg until early January, 2013.

John was working with a friend to transport sheep on December 17. We used the friend’s trailer and Connie was going to pick me up at the friend’s farm when we were done. I tried to phone her to be picked up but got no answer on several tries. We were moving sheep around for the friend to deliver to a buyer when I missed a call from our veterinarian. Shortly thereafter another friend phoned me to say the veterinarian had called her to pass on the information that she had passed Heatherhope Farm and saw sheep out of the fencing.

I then knew something was wrong and got a ride back home. As we pulled up the drive I could see Connie sitting in the far corner of our south pasture, waving frantically. I ran to Connie and asked what I could do. She was holding our Bess by the collar and three or four sheep were in the corner of the pasture right behind her. She said, “Get Bess.”

Connie was quite calm and composed, though I could tell something was quite wrong. After I put Bess up she said I should tend to the sheep near that gate that looked dead – with its legs in the air. I thought it was dead, but as I grabbed it it got to its feet and trotted, sheepishly, off.

Connie said, “Call an ambulance. I think I broke my hip.”

I did so right away. Our friend tended to Connie while I got Cap and got the rest of the flock safely in the feed lot. Our 16 brood ewes had been in the hay field, enclosed by electric netting. Connie didn’t know they were there and got our 7 border collies out for a run with the ATV. She came to the top of a hill and noticed the 16 brood ewes in the netting and called all the dogs back around the way she had come. They all followed, but when Bess came back to the barn area, she went for the ewes in the netting. She harassed them and may have gotten shocked herself. She works decently when I am commanding her, but if she gets into sheep without me she is a menace. She broke the flock up. Most went over to the north pasture gate, but Bess had about 6 of them in the south pasture. One got cast on her back, one made her way way to the east end of the pasture and the other four came towards Connie for protection, knocked her down, and then cowered in the corner near the open gate. Connie had wisely brought a horse whip with her and beat the ground to keep Bess back until an airplane went overhead, and frightened Bess enough to cause her to come to Connie.

But Connie couldn’t get up. For three hours she called out and waved her arms, but the corner where she lay was over 200 yards from our nearest neighbor and over 250 yards from the road, so until I arrived, there was no one who heard her.

Thank God for the veterinarian’s call that sped me home. The sun set shortly after the ambulance picked up Connie and the temperature probably dropped 10 degrees quickly. It had been a very mild day up till that time, but the temperature quickly went below freezing and Connie may well have had hypothermia if I had been delayed any longer.

And no–Connie did not have her cell phone with her. This is a cautionary tale for everyone doing chores or traveling out in the wilds. Take your phone with you.

We thank God also for great people with caring hearts and wonderful skills. The ambulance team, the emergency room doctors, nurses and aides, the staff of Kishwaukee Hospital and of the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center have all been fabulous. But Connie’s break was a complex one that will keep her completely off of her right leg until January 4.

We pray that after that she will be able to put the weight on her right leg and make a speedy recovery.

But, alas, we are still working hard to regain our footing and a good rhythm for life here on the farm; so the Epiphany gathering, which requires a full-throttled effort on our part, will have to be cancelled for 2013. We hope that our dear friends and many new friends will join us for the spring time Meet and Greet the Lambs and for our Midsummer Night’s Fest, and, of course, for Epiphany 2014!

Till then Connie and I will be learning the deep life-lessons that come with caring for each other during trying times. We have, of course, been lifted up by the prayers, visits, food and help of many of God’s people. And we know that the Lord surprises us constantly with love and healing.

Please hold us in prayer and plan to visit us soon. We will miss having the fabulous community feeling of Epiphany at Heatherhope, but we know there will be many to enjoy in the years to come.

About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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2 Responses to Injury Causes Cancellation of Epiphany at Heatherhope

  1. marilyn moyer says:

    Hoping Connie will be up and about in the near future The best to the both of you for a Happy Holiday and a bright new year! Marilyn and Dave

  2. John says:


    Connie is strong and we have high hopes for good progress. I hope you have a good and happy New Year.



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