Baa! Baa! The last sheep hurried through the sorting chute and ran out the barn door. I turned and surveyed the group of rams we had just sorted out of the flock of ewes. Just to make sure we had gotten them all, I quickly counted the rams. I counted eleven. That’s funny, I thought. There’s supposed to be twelve.
Again I counted. And again I counted eleven. Scanning across the little group I suddenly realized that the missing ram was my ram lamb Big Bur. Big Bur was four months old, and was one of the biggest, and most promising, of all that year’s lambs. His mom had crawled into a bur patch and got covered in burs. So she got the name of “Mrs. Bur”. Big Bur was her son.
I hurried outside and told the others that he was missing. We searched through the flock of ewes and even ran them through the sorting chute again. Big Bur was nowhere to be seen.
The next logical place to look was the pasture where the sheep had been last. So, grabbing our bikes, Dad and I rode out the lane to see if he was there. We searched everywhere–on top of the knoll, behind the grove of trees at the far edge of the field, and all through the tall grass. He was nowhere to be found. We searched the entire farm. Big Bur was gone–without a trace to follow.
As we mused over the situation, I recalled seeing him two days before. I also remembered a strange happening about a week earlier…
I rode my bike out to where the sheep were. Laying my bike in the grass, I stepped across the electric fence and started to walk out to where the sheep were grazing when I noticed something strange. In the middle of the lane, at the edge of the pasture, sat a bright yellow sports car.
Now, I have nothing against bright yellow sports cars. And I have nothing against bright yellow sports cars sitting in the middle of the lane. In fact, customers came out to the farm to buy eggs quite often, and it was nothing unusual to see people slowing or stopping to look at the animals.
What was strange, though, was that as soon as the driver of the sports car saw me coming, he immediately started backing back out the lane as though he thought he shouldn’t be there…
Whether the sports car had anything to do with the disappearance of Big Bur is anybody’s guess. However, we suspected that he had been stolen. I started doing the only thing I knew to do: pray that God would return Big Bur if he saw fit to do so. Others of my family were also praying.
Even though there was really no way for them to track him down, we did report Big Bur’s disappearance to the police, and also to Animal Control so that just in case they would find him, they would know who to contact.
It was about a month later when my brother, Daniel, found a two-pound sledgehammer in the area where Big Bur was when he disappeared. It was definitely not one of ours, and it’s highly unlikely that it was there from the guy who had farmed the land previous to us, as we had mowed that pasture many times without hitting the sledgehammer with the mower.
The sledgehammer seemed to confirm that it was a theft, and also pointed to the way Big Bur had been stolen – by being killed. Looking back, this point seems to have been a test of our faith in what God can do. Although we knew it was very likely that Big Bur was dead and had been eaten long ago, we kept on praying.
It was three days after the sledgehammer was found, and I was feeding the broilers (meat chickens), when my radio crackled, “Nathan, what was Big Bur’s ear-tag number?” It was Mom.
With questions racing wildly though my head I “calmly” answered. “His tag said ‘Nathan Horst Ram’ and number ‘11’ on it.”
The radio crackled again. “Well, they have him up at Animal Control.”
I could hardly contain my excitement. To be able to get him back after a month of being lost – it was definitely an answer to prayer!
Later that evening we picked him up. He was in good health although considerably thinner, and very dirty. The lady at Animal Control said they found him in an area about 30 minutes away from where we live. She also told us that the people who lived in the area where Big Bur was found said he had been wandering around the neighborhood for about a month.
Realistically, there is really no way he could have just run away all the way up there in just a couple of days without any “help” and then stayed in the same area for a month.
I wish he could tell us his story. Did he escape from his captors? Was he just dumped for some reason? How did he escape from being killed by dogs or other predators? And how on earth did he get so dirty?
All I can say is that God was definitely watching out for Big Bur. He answered our prayers and brought Big Bur back, making another testimony of His provision at Jehovah-Jireh Farm – “The Lord will provide.”
This story happened in the summer of 2010 and was first published in the In The Days of thy Youth magazine.