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March 31, 2013

Lambs are born perfect

CULLMAN — John 1:29-36: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is the One I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. I would not have known Him, except that the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is He who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

The stable was dim. Although the wind had quieted some, it was still whistling through the eaves in a lonesome moan as if the very elements knew that something momentous was about to occur.

Something had awakened the Boyds about 3 a.m. a few days before Easter Sunday. It was pouring down rain, the wind whipping branches up against the house with a vengeance. It wasn’t just the storm, though, something wasn’t right. They just felt it.

Trent and Jennifer Boyd got up, put on their all-weather gear and went outside. The rain was coming down in sheets, the movement of the trees cast racing shadows under the dim security light.

The couple knew they had a ewe who was about to deliver. They walked up to their pasture, shining flashlights into every corner, when finally, they heard a pitiful bleat coming from the ditch that runs through the pasture. The ewe, Della, had just delivered twins who were now wet, dirty and cold. Trent lifted the lambs gently, leading the mother into the safety and warmth of the shed, where she could better care for her newborn lambs and give them a better chance of survival.

The next morning, Trent was met by another laboring ewe, this time the older daughter of Della. The struggling ewe panted, worn out with the effort of bringing her lambs into the world. Together they had led the distressed ewe inside the barn, where at least she might have a fighting chance, with their help. Della paced the straw- strewn floor around her as if she were trying to comfort her laboring child. Something wasn’t right; birth was not progressing as it should. The lamb was not in the correct position for delivery.

It was the first time in seven years that Trent had ever had to assist one of his sheep in a delivery. Jennifer watched as the grandmother sheep paced ’round and ’round her offspring. “It had been two years since that older mother had given birth to the one in labor,” Jennifer said in amazement. “It was as if she knew that her child was in trouble.”

Before long a perfect tiny white lamb was in Trent’s big, capable hands. It was a miracle that it was alive. Then came the second one, a soft, silvery-gray with the most beautiful silver hoofs they’d ever seen.

“You learn a lot from farm animals,” mused Jennifer later. “Watching them I thought about how, before the birth of Christ, people chose their most perfect, spotless lamb as a sacrifice. I looked at these and wondered how I would choose if I had to make that decision.”

As she sat watching her husband tend his sheep, her thoughts turned again to scriptures she’d heard all of her life. “It is amazing the things God can teach us,” she said softly. “We’ve learned a lot about being shepherds from these animals and what it means that God is our shepherd.”

“Something woke us in the middle of the night. What was it?” she asked. “And we came out to make sure that our sheep were safe, much like God watches over us.”

Trent Boyd is the fifth generation of his family to farm this land. He started out as a civil engineer. Jennifer (Arnold) was a CHS cheerleader who trained as an accountant and wound up as the Cullman City Schools Finance Director.

“When Dawson came along, all that changed,” she said, smiling at her oldest fondly.

Those changes included learning to cook (Trent says that she couldn’t cook a lick when they got married) and later to milk a cow. These days, in addition to being an excellent cook, she makes butter, cheese, buttermilk, yogurt, and sour cream from the three gallons of milk they get from their Jersey cow each day.

There are now six little Boyds. Well, you can’t really say that Dawson is little; he tops out at 5’9”, and is only 13. Then along came Blakeley, 11, followed by Bennett, 8, Rhett, 5, Elsie, 3, and baby Callen, who is 1.

The Boyds chose to homeschool their children. It has worked out beautifully for the whole family. Not only is their mother an excellent cook, she is also a gifted teacher. But the main thing is, they are teaching their children a way of life. “We modeled this farm after the ones in the ’30s and ’40s,” explained Trent, who transitioned from his job in Birmingham to devote more time to his farm and his family.  He says he’s never regretted it for a minute.

Now his days are spent planting, growing, harvesting and selling his produce. The family lives off of their farm as much as possible. For breakfast each morning they enjoy fresh eggs, milk, butter and strawberry preserves from the berries grown on their own property. They have muffins, bread and pancakes made from wheat that Jennifer grinds, and pork sausage from their own hogs. “We are pretty much self-sustained,” said Trent.

“The other day we were out in the barn gathering eggs and Trent looked at me and said, ‘I love this life’,” she recalled.

Trent especially loves springtime — planting, seeing the new growth, colorful blooming shrubs, the lambs, calves and the regeneration of the earth. “We think we are planting seeds and making them grow, but it’s God who makes them grow, not us,” he said.

This lifestyle has been a journey for the Boyds. “We take one step and then another,” they both agreed. “We would like for people to see that they can be more self-sufficient, and more satisfied with this way of life.”

Jennifer says that God put them in the right place, much as they rescued the mother ewe and put her in a safer place to deliver her baby.

“This last lamb was really a miracle,” she said softly. “Lambs are born perfect.” Her children gather quietly around her, each holding the lamb in turn.

And she is right — her family has witnessed a wonderful example of how Jesus was born perfect, and of how he watches over his flock, not willing that even one should perish.

1 Peter 1:18-21: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”

For more information, please visit Trent Boyd Harvest Farm on Facebook.

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