The best stock-people I've known - and by this, I mean shepherds (and shepherdesses), cowboys (and girls) and goatherds - have some things in common. I've found them to be quiet and constantly paying attention. And they spend much of their time (if not most of it) out of doors. Stockmanship involves quiet observation - of the environment, of the animals, and of the situation. I have found that when I'm quiet and aware, I notice some amazing things - things that I might have missed if I were not paying attention.
Secondly, by definition, a stockman (or woman) must spend time with stock. For grazing animals, this means spending time outdoors away from "civilization." Even those of us who graze animals close to town work mostly away from civilization - our work is far more physical than most "civilized" jobs.
This combination - working conciously, quietly, out of doors, and physically - means that we are privileged to see and experience some amazing things. We get to see the geese and sandhill cranes migrating, we get to hear a creek start to run after a drenching rain, we get to feel the warmth of the sun on the first true spring day, we get to taste the first ripe blackberries of summer, and we get to smell leaves becoming topsoil in the fall. For me, spending time outside, working with animals, and being quiet enough to be "in" my environment means that I get to observe some wonderous events.
All of which brings me back to the story of the shepherds. Regardless of what you believe, I hope that the new year brings you the opportunity to be outdoors, quiet and concious of your surroundings. May you hear angels sing in the coming twelve months.