The Adventures of Tad
Who is Tad? That is the wrong question to start our adventure. We need to ask. .. what is a Tad anyhow? A Tad is something small.. .. very small; like a little bigger than a smidgen, but not as big as itty-bitty. Tad is our friend and sometime hero in the flock of Bill; who is a sheep rancher in Montana. You see, Tad is a lamb… maybe not quite a baby anymore, but not quite a teen-ager yet either. Tad is also smart and in fact Tad thinks he is the smartest sheep in the flock; and maybe he knows a thing or two that Bill doesn’t. What do you think? Well…I’ll let you decide during our first story. Pull off your boots, put your feet up and enjoy your visit. Now, we’re off to our first meeting with the flock. Not too many days ago in Western Montana Tad began life in the flock of a young rancher named Bill. Bill had grown up in the East in the big city
of Washington, D. C. He had spent most of his school days just putting his head down on his folded arms and looking out the window. Bill’s teacher might be teaching. let’s say math, and working really hard to teach him fractions; but Bill’s mind was far from the world of dusty dry numbers and neat rows of desks. Bill knew that somewhere out beyond the cars and trucks and buses that there just had to be somewhere with fresh clean air to breath and quietness in which to think his own thoughts. It was a day just like that in the third grade in geography that Bill first heard about Montana. Even the sound of that word MONTANA why that sounded different…and he heard it was a BIG STATE. That sounded pretty good too. He was sure there must be a lot more room in Montana than where he was living. Bill learned that Montana was the third largest state after Alaska and Texas. He also learned that there was no speed limit on the highways. That sounded pretty good too, not that he was old enough to drive but a place that let you use your own common sense seemed like where he wanted to be. And how did our Bill get to Montana ranching sheep? That all began the summer when Bill was in 6th grade. It was near the end of the school year and just one of those days that was warm enough to make you wish summer vacation had already started. Bill’s Dad had something to tell him that day as he walked in the door from school. “Put your books down for now Bill. ” his Dad had said. “You can work on your homework later.” Bill came and sat down in a chair in his Dad’s office wondering what was up. “Listen, Bill, Mom and I have been talking about what we all might want to do this Summer. You might not remember this but your Uncle Pete moved out to Montana just before you were born. We haven’t heard a lot from him but we have kept in touch with him out on his sheep ranch. Well anyway, last week Uncle Pete called and we got to talking about you and he wondered if you’d be interested in coming out this summer. You know, learning about the ranch and helping with chores.”
Bill’s eyes focused hard on the floor tracing the pattern on the carpet while his mind raced. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and shifted back and forth from one foot to the other. “Well, what do you think? You’d be missing out on our family vacation, but it might be something you’d like.” Bill loved Dad and didn’t want to make him feel badly but on the inside he was jumping up and down just imagining the wide open spaces, the horses, the …”Bill? Bill?” Dad called. “What do you think?””I think it’d be great Dad!” he blurted out. Really? I can go by myself for the Summer? What’s Uncle Pete like?”
So it was that after a very long flight Bill first set foot off the plane in Missoula, Montana. It was hours more riding in Uncle Pete’s pick-up truck, till they finally pulled
up in front of the old sprawling ranch house. Bill knew then that somehow, one day it would be his home. Now we come to the first year of our young hero’s life (Tad, remember him?) Tad was born in the Spring. Unlike many of his cousins, Tad was an only child. He seemed pretty
ordinary to about everyone except his mother, Beatrice. She knew from the end of that first week that Tad, this strong-willed, hard-headed lamb was different from all her
others in the past. When Beatrice nudged Tad to the left ..Tad wanted to go right. When Mom wanted Tad to lie down for a nap, well you know it.. Tad wanted to bounce around the pasture and play. “Oh well.” mother Beatrice would groan. “One day, he’ll grow up and settle down to being a nice and easy lamb like all the others.” But Tad was about anything but nice and easy. As the days rolled by, mother Beatrice began to wonder if her patience and energy would hold out long enough to see Tad grow up.
The day this adventure begins, Tad is a little older. Not a new-born anymore. This day as Tad wakes up, he rolled over leaped to his little hoofs and somehow knew that something new was coming. Bill was mounted on his horse in the pasture and with the sheep dogs was rounding up the flock. “Maaa …Maaaa. “Tad called to Beatrice. “What’s going on Maaa?” Beatrice sleepily rolled over and stood up shaking her head. “Oh Tad, it’s nothing new.” she said. “Well maybe to you it’s new but Bill is taking us down from the summer pasture today to the valley where we’ll be safe from the storms. Every year about this time he leads us into the quieter valley. It’ll be a long journey today but we should be there before dark.” Tad didn’t think he liked the sound of this. He had known only sunny hilltops, where he’d run and played and slept for his few months of life. Tad felt in charge and happy in his world. Now that world was spinning suddenly out of his control and he was afraid.While all the other lambs and the grown up sheep were nudging closer together’ getting ready for the journey, Tad was stiff leggedly shifting back and forth glancing quickly to his right, then to his left, thinking ..thinking of a scheme of escape. “Tad!” his mother called. “Come back over here with the rest of the family.” “Oh all right Maaa!” Tad said sulkily. Then as the flock began to move around the first bend in the path leading down the hillside, Tad spotted a large pile of boulders off to the side. And somewhere in that group of boulders, Tad remembered a hiding place where he had hidden from his Mother only the week before. Tad shouldered his way quickly to the inside of the flock turning a deaf ear to his mother’s calls. With a sigh she shook her head as he disappeared among the other sheep. “That Tad, what could he be up to now. ” she groaned. Tad was already nearly out of sight between two large rocks. The other sheep around him had hardly noticed as they were all just minding their own business and looking ahead, down the trail to the valley. “Free at last!” Tad nearly squealed to himself in delight at his trickery. Soon the barking of the dogs, the nagging tone of his mother’s call and the pounding of rancher Bill’s horse were just a memory. Now the peace of the late summer day surrounded him. Tad bounded out into the vacant pasture. He jumped and twisted and ran to his heart’s content. There were no older voices to tell him to ‘keep it down’ or ‘come sit here quietly like the other lambs’ . Now Tad was going to do what Tad wanted to do! Soon he was worn out and after lapping some fresh water from the mountain stream, Tad lay down for a rest in the best spot in the pasture not to be wakened till he felt like it. As he slept he dreamed he was a full-grown ram and in charge of his own flock; giving the orders, and waited on by the smaller sheep. Tad the Ram didn’t need dogs or rancher Bill or anyone else to tell him anything anymore. In his dream though he suddenly began to feel cold.-very cold–colder than he had ever felt in his young life, and then …..what was that sound? A crack of thunder and a flash of lightening woke Tad to a rapidly darkening sky. Around him a cold and vicious wind began to blow. The sky grew blacker and blacker with storm clouds and a few drops of icy rain began to fall. Far away in the valley below, Bill was just putting the flock into the corral next to the barn for the night. As he heard the thunder and saw the lightening he thought to himself, “What a storm up on the mountain tonight.” Then he muttered to no one in particular, “Looks like we got down just in time.” As he was just closing the gate he happened to notice Beatrice alone off to the side of the rest of his sheep. He knew she had had a lamb this Spring and wondered why it was not by her. Quickly in the fading light he looked through the small flock and noticed that Tad had been left behind! “Only one thing to do now.” Bill thought to himself Hopes of a good hot cup of coffee and a well deserved, early to bed, were now gone from Bill’s plans. He grabbed his biggest flashlight and jumped back up on his horse and headed wearily back up the darkening mountain trail. On the mountain top, our once brave and rebellious hero is now running madly in circles. Every time another streak of lightning smashes to the ground he leaps high into the air calling for help. “Maaa …Maaa ..Billl ..Maaa ..Baaa Hooo Baaa Hooo” He cries and races around, more tired than he has ever been in his little life. In his wild running he doesn’t notice but he has come to the edge of the pasture where a large clump of thick thorn bushes were growing. With his next leap he lands right into the center of one and his wet wool becomes hopelessly tangled in its grip. The more Tad twists and pulls the more ensnared he gets. “Bill! Bill! Bill!” Tad hopelessly calls out. But in his heart he knows that Bill is far away, safe and warm and dry with all his family in the valley below. All the feelings of how smart he was seem pretty stupid now and he sinks exhausted into the thorns too weak to fight any more. Just as Tad lay limply in terrified silence he heard the beat of horses hooves on the ground nearby and the voice of Bill calling, “Tad! Tad!” “Bill! Bill!” Tad pitifully cried from the thicket. Soon the horses hooves stopped just outside the thicket. Bill’s flashlight pierced the dark bushes. “Bill!” Tad called out. In a moment Bill’s strong hands gently began to pull his wool from the thorns and big arms picked him up and carried him to the horse. Then they began happily riding down the trail as the thunder storm passed into the distance. Tad had never been so happy to be a part of the smartest and bravest Rancher’s flock in the world.
Matthew 18:12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes
astray; does he not leave the ninety nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is
straying? And if he finds it assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than
over the ninety nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your father who is
in heaven that one of these little one’s should perish.