Something to Chew On

On lazy Sunday afternoons, I sometimes remind myself of my cattle; leisurely grazing and napping my way through the day. I’ve learned to never weigh myself on a Monday morning. I don’t come close to eating as much as my cows; but it seems like I’ve always got a bag or plate of something nearby. On Sundays when Diane makes her “gravy” (a thick, savory tomato-based sauce) and homemade meatballs (the large Italian ones), I appoint myself official taste-tester—then nap through a food coma.

Beef cows, the kind we raise here at the Cross-Dubya ranch, eat an average of two percent of their body weight each day. For a twelve-hundred pound cow, this equates to twenty-four pounds of dry matter per day. I’m a big fella, but I would be lucky to eat twenty-four pounds of food in a month! Needing that much nutrition per day, it becomes easy to understand why when you drive by farms and ranches it seems the cattle are always eating.

Many believe cows have four stomachs, which is why they eat so much. In reality, they only have one, but it’s a big sucker, with four different chambers/compartments. As herbivores (grass eaters), cows have a more complex digestive system than us humans. God designed each compartment in a cow’s stomach to perform a specific task in their digestive process. The four parts of their stomach are:

  • Rumen–This is where the cow begins breaking down the complex plant products it ingests. Good rumen health (the right pH balance and chemical makeup) is critical.
  • Reticulum–Here the partially digested food mixes with a cow’s saliva to produce cud. The cow burps up its cud (imagine a two-pound ball of bubble gum), several times throughout the day, and chews on it to help break the food down more. If you’ve ever watched a cow, and it appears it’s chewing a mouthful of bubble gum, they’re chewing their cud. Sometimes I chuckle as I walk around my pastures listening to the cows burp in stereo. What’s even more comical is when “Ms. Lynn” (a 1,400 lb. cow) snores when she’s napping. Yes Virginia, cow’s snore. Some, quite loudly (I have video).
  • Omasum–Here, all the water is absorbed out of the food as further processing occurs.
  • Abomasum–In this last chamber, the food is finally digested; much the way we humans digest food.

All that digesting sure makes me glad I’m God’s greatest creation; His masterpiece in the making.

Watching my little heifer yearling “Giblets” (pictured above) devour her share of a fresh bale of Bermuda grass hay caused me to think. I thought about how she’s been eating grain and grass for much of the day. Yet, when I put out a new bale of stale, dried up grass, she gets after it like I would a bacon-wrapped filet mignon. The hay is not as nutritious as the grain I feed them each morning, or the grass growing in my pastures. Still, it’s something different and my cows view it as a treat. In the summer, hay is a welcome change to their everyday routine.

It always amazes me how quickly six calves can consume a sixty-five pound bale of hay. In case you’re wondering, it takes six five hundred pound calves less than twenty minutes to have nothing but a thin layer of hay strewn about the ground. Cows, it seems, always have something somewhere in their stomach. Perhaps that’s why they graze all day, and when the grass is not that plentiful, or appealing, they’re satisfied with good hay.

Bottom line is that unless they’re asleep, they’re chewing on something. I thought about how we Christians might consider that same practice. Not grazing like I do on Sunday’s, but ingesting God’s word and then digesting His word, goodness, and grace throughout our day. Some ways I do that is to:

  • start my day with prayer and praise,
  • spend some quiet and quality time one-on-one with God,
  • listen to worship music in the background, and
  • take purposeful breaks to recognize His presence through prayer and praise.
In what ways do you satisfy your spiritual hunger throughout the day? Click To Tweet

When I keep God at the forefront of my thoughts throughout the day, things go smoother. Not that my days don’t have struggles, trials, and temptations, but when my mind is on God, everything becomes a little easier to handle. As I chew on what I studied or listen to the words of a song, I consider how I can apply Christ’s teachings in my life.

I’m careful about what I feed my cows. It’s important to balance their food intake with the right kinds and amounts of minerals and medicines, grains, and dry matter. While they “free graze” on pasture grasses, I’m always careful to watch them for signs of bloat or other maladies that can befall cattle. When everything is taken in the right proportion, cattle grow healthy and strong. My calves and yearlings will gain an average of two-and-a-half pounds per day as they grow to maturity.

In the same way, Christians must be watchful of what we ingest as well. We must watch for signs of distress or spiritual needs and adjust our diets to achieve maximum spiritual growth. Many verses from God’s word came to mind as I was writing this, but the one I am led to think most appropriate is Colossians 3:16 (NKJV). In it, Paul wrote “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

“Dwell in you richly…”; as I consider this, I realize my spiritual digestive process is not all that different from my cattle’s. I take it in, chew on it a while, then I think about it later and chew on it more. I absorb as much of it as I can in the process and I discard the rest. Since I don’t absorb all that God is teaching me the first time, I find I must continually feed my soul the right things, so it supports my spiritual growth needs.

My cattle taught me to ruminate on God’s word throughout the day, digesting it slowly so more is absorbed into my spiritual life. Click To Tweet

I pray you’ll ask God to direct you to all you need to maximize your spiritual growth. Once identified, I pray He sends you all the nutritionally balanced resources you need to grow farther and faster in your journey of faith than ever before.

God’s blessings,

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30 thoughts on “Something to Chew On

    1. You are so sweet; and so encouraging Ms. Melissa. Thank you! Isn’t it wonderful when we can take time out of our day just to “take God in”? I am about to go out and check the water troughs around the ranch. As much as they eat, they each drink about twenty gallons of water each day. In some pastures, they don’t have direct access to the pond, so I put out troughs and keep them filled (a couple of times per day). I love to stand out there and watch them. I smell the fresh air, listen to the birds, or crickets (time of day ya know), and I pause to thank God for all His provision. The grass is still plentiful, the animals are all healthy. And God is still on His throne! God’s blessings ma’am.

  1. J. D. that is amazing how much they eat! I’m glad they aren’t carnivores. I’m reading in John now where Jesus tells us to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Without food we die. Jesus and His Word give us spiritual life.

    1. Yes ma’am. That’s why my hay harvest from earlier this year was such a disappointment. A 1,200 lb. bale of hay only lasts a day or two at the most around here in the winter time. I love that analogy Ms. Debbie. Without feasting on God’s word, we die. What a truism ma’am. Thank you so much!

  2. Great message! I love the image of chewing in God’s word all our waking hours. That way they get comfortable in our mouths. You are right on with your warning about being careful what other things you ingest. The words from Ratatouille say it all, “If you are what you eat, I only want to eat the good stuff. ” Thanks for writing!

    1. Only a gourmet chef like yourself could have made the Ratatouille comment so well Ms. Patty. Thank you so much for your encouraging words ma’am. Safe travels; and give Baby J a hug from us. I pray she knows every day how much she is loved.

  3. What a great analogy, J.D.! It reminds me of a favorite verse, Jeremiah 15:16 – “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.”

  4. JD, your posts are educational and I’m always learning something new to apply spiritually. Today on cows and giving us images of grazing, ingesting huge amounts, and digesting–why? because they need it. And so do I. I graze on blogs that come in my inbox–sometimes a scripture is just what I need. I start my day early with my time alone with God, and today was a small prayer group and Bible study with women. I’ve learned i can’t be very productive or fruitful unless I ingest the Word and store it for when I need it.

    1. Aww… thank you Ms. Marilyn. I do the same with your posts ma’am. And “Amen” on both your women’s study and our need to store/absorb God’s word into our hearts for the time when it’s needed. We are ending a revival at our little country church tonight. It’s been filled with wonderful teaching, worship, and praise. Most of all, I love seeing how hearts are being changed. God’s blessings ma’am. Loved your devotional on CBN.com this morning. Having the right keys makes all the difference in the world doesn’t it ma’am.

    1. Am so glad you did Ms. Debbie. You and Mr. Donnie have taught Diane and I so much about ranching and rural living. Ever grateful for all the wonderful counsel and fellowship we get to share with y’all. God’s blessings ma’am; and thank you so much for reading my blog posts. You’ve made me feel ten feet tall and bulletproof today sister.

  5. I’ve always loved the word “ruminate” but I’ve never applied it to my spiritual walk and God’s word. What a great application of the lesson as learned from your cattle observations. I love how you let everything on your ranch point you to God and you make sure God connects to and is reflected in everything on your ranch! Thanks for the lessons!

    1. Thanks Ms. Julie. So pleased you enjoyed ma’am. And thank you again for allowing me to come visit you at https://julielavender.blogspot.com/ last week. Nature certainly does provide an endless source of inspiration it seems. As for our ranch reflecting God. I pray it, and our lives, continues to ma’am. We like to think it’s His, as God is who led us to it.

  6. Very educational! I’ve only raised horses, and their systems aren’t too complicated. I used to put two wheelbarrows of hay in their boxes in the morning; then pick up two wheelbarrows of digested hay at night. Their only problem – and it was serious – was colic. Yikes!
    I love it when a scripture, worship song, or even a part of a sermon stays with me all day. Somehow things don’t look the same in that light.

    1. Yes ma’am. Isn’t it funny how what they put out is nearly equal to what they take in. In “Magic the donkey”‘s case, think it’s more some days. 🙂 It sure does make a difference in us when we take Him with us throughout our day indeed ma’am. My entire demeanor and countenance changes when He’s communing with me.

  7. J.D., There’s a cattle farm near our home and our grandkids like to take walks to see the “cows.” This cattle “talk” and all the information about how cows eat and their digestive systems, is such NEW and interesting information for me. But boy, is this a great analogy to spiritual food, being careful what we ingest, and continually chewing on God’s Word throughout our day! Great post!

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Karen. Am glad your grandchildren get to see and learn about all of God’s creatures from such loving grandparents as you and your husband. It never ceases to amaze me how God can take even the most mundane chore here on our little ranch and turn it into a teachable moment for Diane and me. We have learned so much, and I think grown so much closer to our God here.

  8. Thanks for such a practical lesson from the pasture. It’s interesting to see the spiritual applications God gives from everything around us. Taking the Word in each day makes it easier for just the right scripture to come back up again when we need it. We chew on it and meditate on it day and night.

    1. Yes ma’am. It sure makes a difference when we allow God’s word to linger with us; allowing us to savor His goodness and grace. I loved how you put that ma’am. God’s blessings.

  9. I learned a great deal about cattle in this post, J.D. But I especially loved the analogy of “spiritual food.”
    Sometimes I’ll get a worship song stuck in my head and find myself ruminating on it all day and even in my sleep.

    1. Yes ma’am. When good words (be that song or scripture) gets stuck in my head, I try and stop to ask God to show me what He wants me to learn from it. Often, that stuck lesson brings tears of release and joy as my understanding starts to unfold. I bet it does for you too ma’am. Thank you for your kind words.

  10. Educational, enlightening, spiritually applicable, enjoyable, and thought-provoking. Boy, you covered a lot of ground, Mr. Wininger. Such a wonderful post with plenty to “chew” on! Thanks for sharing your insights and love of the Lord.

    1. Wow! I did all that? Thank you so much for your kindness and encouragement Ms. Karen. I try ma’am. Am grateful I have posts like yours and so many others to learn from. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  11. I like the sound of Diane’s sauce and meatballs! Another good, throught-provoking post from you. I also find that many things are easier to handle when I keep God in mind throughout the day.

    1. If you think the sound of Diane’s gravy is something Ms. Robin; wait until you and Mr. James gets to smell it being made one day. As the aroma of fresh garlic, oregano, freshly squeezed tomatoes, and all the other yummy things start to “marry” as Diane calls it, this place smells just like I imagine Heaven will. 🙂 And yes, keeping God with us does make the day go better.

  12. Well I love cows anyway and I love this post. It’s interesting and inspiring.
    Being reminded of a cow’s digestive system was fun and your analogy was spot on. Now I want to be more like a cow.
    We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made and so are cows. Isn’t God amazing?
    Thanks, J.D., for this great lesson.

    1. You and me both Ms. Connie. I just loved the idea, when God gave it to me, that I should digest His word slowly and deliberately, chewing on it enough to get the maximum benefit from it. Am so pleased you enjoyed ma’am. God’s blessings.

    1. Thanks Ms. Diane. I’m continually learning new things here. Isn’t life like that? Every time we think we’re getting ahead of the curve, here comes another one. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

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