My Bible time this morning was in John 10, where Jesus calls himself the Door.
Well, I prefer the rendering Gate. Sheepfolds don't have doors; they have gates. Here's the "gate" to our goat pasture.
A gate is one of several essentials to maintaining a flock of sheep or goats. These are:
6. Guardians (a llama or a donkey and a dog or two is a good idea).
When we bought our farm in Virginia we began raising sheep. That was a very interesting experience. Sheep are very hard to detect illness in and treat effectively. We discovered that the hard way. We soon gave up on sheep and instead increased our goat herd to about 30 head. Sheep are almost always more skittish than goats. Plus, sheep aren't naturally very sociable with people as they don't like to be handled much. In addition, with both sheep and goats you can't only rely on dewormers to control parasites. To be successful, a dewormer is a tool to be used along with pasture management and genetic management (i.e., herd culling). I think the secret is rotational grazing and having the correct breed in your herd. Additionally, having a large variety of plants for the flock to graze on is optimal, since many of these plants produce some natural deworming properties.
All this to say, taking care of farm animals can be challenging, but it is one of the greatest blessings of life. Jesus himself is a Good Shepherd! This has to be one of the most beautiful metaphors he used to describe himself. Ask anyone who has ever attempted to raise sheep or goats and they will tell you: personal care and attention is given to each and every animal. We even name our individual animals. Often you can identify some recognizable trait of the animal. How amazing!
Jesus is not only the Good Shepherd; he is the only Gate for the sheep. Don't let anyone point you elsewhere. Jesus is the only Gate through which we can gain access to eternal and abundant life. You can take that to the bank.