Mectins and Zoles

Many who survived English Literature in high school remember the Montagues and the Capulets. Anyone from Kentucky or West Virginia knows about the Hatfields and McCoys. How many of you know about the feud with the Mectins and the Zoles? For ranchers, this feud has been going on since the fall of man.

Like other famous feuds throughout history, this one extracts a heavy price. The “bottom line” in ranching is that that better condition cattle are in, the better price they bring. Malnourished, sick, underweight, or poorly conditioned cattle mean lower selling prices. A lower price results in less profit; it’s a simple formula. So what are “Mectins” and “Zoles” and why do ranchers get all worked up at their mention?

These little critters are the parasites, both internal and external, that can wreak havoc on your cattle if not controlled. You may know them by their given names; roundworms, Ostertagia, liver flukes, hair worms, gut worms, etc., but most cattlemen I know use these generic names. Parasites are a year-round problem for ranchers, as you have to treat them seasonally to ensure an effective control and prevention program. The Greek word for parasite is parásito, and defined as “One who lives at another’s expense; a person who eats at another’s table.” With this definition, it’s easy to see that parasites exist in all shapes and sizes.

I wondered, Why did God, the Creator of all things, make parasites? I found my answer in Genesis 3:14-19. When God created the world and all that’s in it, He said it was all “good.” Since there’s nothing good about parasites, I believe they didn’t exist until The Curse was applied upon the fall of man.

The terms “mectins” and “zoles” come from the medicines we use to treat these parasites. Mectins like to infect cattle in spring and summer. They live both on and inside of cattle in the form of lice, mites, flies, flukes, and worms. Zoles are those internal parasites who want to hibernate (inside a cow) during the fall and winter. While zoles eat little while they’re dormant, their mere existence causes all kinds of problems in cattle. The key to managing these parasitic creatures is in knowing what to apply and when to apply it.

Perhaps the best way to explain these terms is the treatment. In the spring, we treat all kinds of active parasites with mectins, such as Ivermectin™, Ivomec™, Agri-Mectin®, Ausmectin™, or other macrocyclic lactones. How do you like that for big scientific words y’all? We treat for zoles after the first hard freeze using a “white” dewormer containing benzimidazoles or fenbendazole like Safeguard® pellets.

As I was treating my livestock for zoles this winter, my mind focused on parasites. Most parasites are small creatures, nearly invisible to the naked eye. It isn’t until damage occurs that you notice them. Cattle getting bald spots, the consistency of their bowel movements, lack of appetite, or weight loss are all key indicators. The problem with parasites is you don’t see the damage they’re doing until the damage is done. If you wait to treat them when you can see the damage they’re doing, you’re already behind.

Caring for livestock is much like owning an automobile or home. The cost of preventative maintenance is much less than having to make a major repair when something breaks down. The same principles apply to our own health. Something to know about parasites in our animals is that they can re-host themselves in human bodies. It’s not uncommon to learn of a cattle worm being found in human eyes, stomachs, etc. In most cases, our immune systems can handle them, but if in a weakened state, the parasites can overwhelm a human body to the point of severe illness.

As Bubba the chocolate lab and I sat watching the cattle, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me understand how parasites affect my spiritual life. Thinking and praying, I realized that parasitic sins, those small innocuous sins that few ever see, can wreak havoc in my walk with the Lord. I questioned, What are parasitic sins? The Holy Spirit brought words like unforgiveness, unrepentance, worldly thoughts, lack of commitment, pride, and no engagement to mind. Left unchecked, we and others seldom notice these sins.

As they increase in number or frequency, these sins show up in noticeable ways in our lives. We become irritable, lose our temper, and become selfish and self-centered. Like the cattle parasites, we notice them after the damage is done.

How do you prevent parasitic sins from damaging your spiritual health? Click To Tweet

I don’t have a doctorate in Theological studies, and am not qualified to offer you a prescription to treat any parasitic sins in your life. The best course of action in my life is one I hope might help you. The preventative maintenance I apply to prevent my parasitic sins from becoming an infestation is reviewing my day and coming clean with God before I fall asleep each evening. In doing so, I let go of unforgiveness and I free myself from the bonds of sin I’ve placed myself in through confession and repentance. My evening prayer, just before I drift off to sleep, is the right medicine for me to rest peacefully in God’s arms. When I do this, I awaken refreshed, renewed, and ready to face the new day God has given me. I pray this works for you also.

God’s blessings,

50 thoughts on “Mectins and Zoles

  1. Love this. You may not be a Ph.D., but you are wise. Having goats, I totally get this analogy. (You actually prompted me to get some supplies I was out of by reading your post. Haha)
    But on the other hand, you made some great points. Parasites can be deadly. We need to pay attention to them in our lives by asking the Holy Spirit to point them out to us. Thank you, JD

    1. Yes ma’am; we sure do need to pay attention to them ma’am. The Holy Spirit is a great guide, but we have to invite Him into our lives each day. As for remembering to treat for zoles? I put a post-it note in my big furry aviators cap that I wear when it gets below freezing outside. That way I remind myself it’s time to buy Safeguard and Esprinex for the donkeys. LOL

  2. As always, you found deep theology on the ranch. Those little parasitic sins start the slide on the slippery slope to lead us far from God. I love your advice to review and confess at the end of each day. How many of us never slow down to review and reflect? How else will we learn? Thank you again, my friend, for your wisdom

  3. J.D., I have learned more about farming and cattle since following your blog. 🙂 I enjoy your messages and always enjoy reading about the ranch and the animals. I did not know about mectins and zoles. Very interesting. Your question “How do you prevent parasitic sins from damaging your spiritual health?” is a great one. Our spiritual can be damaged through our words and actions. I pray I will pause and reflect and remember to show God’s love. Have a blessed week!

    1. You too Ms. Melissa. And congratulations again on your interview about your amazing children’s book, Licky the Lizard. I think we must all watch for a build-up of those parasitic sins in our lives. I often think of Proverbs 27:17 (Iron sharpens iron), as it’s important that we help our brothers and sisters see what sometimes they can’t. God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. When I read your title I knew I was going to learn about something I knew little about. And I did. But I do know about parasitic sins. Your topic dovetails nicely with my own this week. I like me your analogy!

    1. It certainly does fit well with your post Ms. Candyce. I think we experienced one of those “Jesus thangs” this week my friend. I am so grateful for it. It’s as though we validated what we both felt God was leading us to talk about. I’ll be doing lots of weeding this year ma’am; and you be sure to watch out for those mectins and zoles who can sneak up on us. God’s blessings ma’am.

  5. A smart parasite does not kill it’s host. Spiritual parasites cannot rob a Christian of their salvation. Instead, they weaken us, make us less effective, and rob us of our joy in Christ

    1. That’s the thing Coach. Parasites aren’t smart; and it isn’t just one or two. It’s when they build up in our systems to hundreds of thousands that they can choke the joy right out of us. Well said sir. Our salvation is sealed. Our joy is often up to us.

  6. It’s so tempting to pretend not to notice small things because of the trouble and cost to treat them (spiritual and physical), but your message strong encouragement to treat them BEFORE they cause major damage. I’m exploring some parasites that might be unwelcome guests in my own life.

    1. It sure is Ms. Barb. I still watch out for them, and quite often find and have to address them, daily ma’am. Like you, I think the key to both physical and spiritual wellness is early detection and prevention ma’am. Thanks so much for your insight.

  7. As a child, I watched with some horror as calves were forced into chutes and inoculated. I knew the shots were meant to save them from horrible problems, but had no grasp of the depth of the suffering they’d undergo if they remained vulnerable. Sin is much the same, isn’t it? Thank you for the word picture, J.D. What a wonderful analogy! Peace and grace, Tammy

    1. Thank you Ms. Tammy. You might be interested to know, that as soon as we can get our hands on a calf, which means mama cows are VERY protective, we vaccinate them, place a tag in their ears, and in some cases turn them into steers. The first vaccination is a nasal spray. We put a sheath over the needle and spray it in their nose. Much more human in their first hours of life. When done right, vaccinations won’t hurt a cow.

  8. J.D., you are the best at analogies, at taking something you know well in the physical world and applying it to the spiritual world. Once, doctors thought my daughter had a parasite because of symptoms. After long weeks of missing school and testing and trips to the doctor, it was never determined she had one. So the whole season remain undiagnosed. As frustrating as it was at the time, your message here reminds me how important it is to evaluate where we are spiritually, as you said, a maintenance program and coming clean before the Lord each day. If parasitic sins remain undiagnosed, we will remain spiritually unhealthy and miss out on so much the Lord has for us.

    1. Aww shucks. Thanks Ms. Karen. Am ever-grateful that God can use a simple fella like me in His service. Your comments reminded me of how many times, when I was interning as a bio-medical engineer in college at a major hospital, I would learn that illnesses un-diagnosed for years sometimes were determined to be parasites. They are a very real threat for humans, both the physical and spiritual kind.

  9. What a lesson, JD! I couldn’t help but apply your analogy to spiritual warfare with the demonic “parasites” that look for openings (sin) to keep us in bondage to our sins. Your point of confession keeps those pesky demon parasites in check!

    Thank you for another great post.

    1. You are too kind Ms. Beckie. Thank you so much ma’am. Just like cattle parasites, parasitic sins can definitely eat away at our faith, block the absorption of God’s spiritual nutrients from His living water and bread of life, and limit our spiritual growth. What a great viewpoint to have ma’am. God’s blessings.

  10. You have given me a powerful word picture, J.D.. The thought of parasitic sins feasting on my soul and sucking all the health out of it makes me want to be even more diligent to protect its health. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your vivid description Ms. Lori. That’s exactly what happens with parasitic sins isn’t it ma’am? They suck the life, the joy, and the hope out of our Cristian walk. I’m with you ma’am; I would much rather enjoy the journey than struggle through my days. God’s blessings.

  11. J.D. What a great analogy. You know, there are parasites that even affect my bees. And there’s also right and wrong was to apply the treatments. There’s even multiple positive ways to treat.: topical, bolus, injections and etc.
    The be issue is as you suggested is that they can contaminate another host. I pray that any parasites I may be subjected to are dealt with quickly and thoroughly so I don’t infect someone else. Great message!

    1. Bee injections? I sure wouldn’t want that job Mr Ben! 😀 I’ve heard of entire colonies of bees being wiped out like this, but like cattle, knowing what to do and when to do it can make all the difference. Prayers those spiritual parasites are few and far between in your life also my friend.

  12. Great insight in pointing out these little creatures to us that have little or none experience with operating a farm. I was thinking as I read your blog, Wouldn’t it great if we could eliminate all those hidden sins within us by just taking a little pill ? Of course l know that if we have Christ living in us we have the best defense of all.

    1. Thanks Mr. Ray. These little buggers are all around us. Often times, “Montezuma’s Revenge” is really caused by a parasite and not a bacterial infection (e.coli). The world is full of parasites, which is why we must stay in the Word as much as we can; protecting ourselves against those parasitic kinds of sins. Thank you so much for reading and commenting sir. Much appreciated.

  13. Although we sometimes ignore them, the sins you described as parasitic are just as distasteful and dangerous as those mectins and zoles. The analogy you used will help me remember this lesson.

    1. They certainly are Ms. Jeannie. It always amazes me how God is teaching me things out here on the ranch. Wait until you hear my next lesson from the ranch that hit me squarely between the eyes. I was in tears as the lesson was being shown to me. Think discipleship. 🙂 And thank you so much for the blessing of your friendship ma’am.

    1. Not as much work as children; and they don’t cost as much to care for each year, but they are a demanding lot some days. I’m always tickled when I’m late getting out of the house and they’re all standing at the gate waiting for me to come feed them. As soon as they see me they start bellowing “Hey Papa, why ain’t you here with our feed yet?” 🙂 Like children though, I love each of them; praying for them daily. Silly old man aren’t I? God’s blessings Ms. Kathy.

  14. Confession, both private and corporate (from one-on-one to group), is severely underrated today. Yet, confession is an essential component of the daily Christian discipline of prayer. I appreciate your idea of “cleaning the slate” before going to bed at night, J.D. It’s a great suggestion. Also great is to confess a parasitic sin as soon as the Holy Spirit convicts us of it. Thank you for your post today!

    1. So very pleased you enjoyed the post Ms. Gena; and yes “cleaning the slate” each day is an important part of my Christian walk. Thank you so much for subscribing ma’am. I am mightily blessed. 🙂 I just subscribed to yours also.

  15. We typically view parasites as a negative–some critter or bug that uses its host unmercifully and can even cause great harm. Ouch! But, what about us? As you point out, our parasitic behavior can cause great damage as well. J.D., your wisdom always reaches the heart of the matter. Thank you, my friend.

    1. The greatest educators can take a subject and bring new meaning and insight. I never considered the perspective of “parasitic people” my friend. Thank you for your lesson. What a blessing it is to share life with such an encouraging and inspiring friend as you Ms. Katherine. God’s blessings to you and “Farmer Bob.”

  16. Other than wishing I’d read the post after lunch instead of during (haaaa!!!!!), I’m so glad you shared these words of wisdom, J.D. When I think of a parasitic sin, my first thought goes to pride. It can seep into the best of intentions. I start most mornings with Psalm 139:23,24 asking God to search my heart, knowing I’m incapable of detecting all the sneaky sins. Thank you!!

    1. Oh what a perfect example of a parasitic sin Ms. Cathy. I must admit, I fear pride may have been what kept me from listing that myself my friend (Proverbs 27:17). Thank you so much for weighing in and adding such value to my walk and our conversation ma’am. God’s blessings. Please know I will have to dedicate an upcoming post to you; for you just helped God give me another wonderful lesson from Around the Cross-Dubya. 😀

        1. Be looking for your inspired post on February 19 Ms. Cathy. I thank God for the blessing that is my wonderful writing friend, Mrs. Cathy Baker. How can such a big heart fit inside such a tiny house? 🙂

  17. “The preventative maintenance I apply to prevent my parasitic sins from becoming an infestation is reviewing my day and coming clean with God before I fall asleep each evening.” Well said, J. D. That is good medicine for us all!

  18. Another interesting post. I sometimes find myself wondering about the “preventative maintenance” that could be done in a situation, before any worse damage is Done.

    1. Amen Ms. Robin. I think we all wonder if we’re “watching out” enough. I always think of the feet washing rituals in the Bible. As I understand it, it’s because with sandals, they were always dusty when they came in from “out in the world.” I think to how when we interact with this world, and we must as long as we’re in it, that some of the world will stick to our “soles” (like the pay on words there?). Our spiritual feet-washing must also take place whenever we come in from the world. That act is study, prayer, and fellowship I think. God’s blessings ma’am.

  19. Wow. This post reminds me of the book our women’s Bible study is going through titled “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. Of course NO sin is respectable or acceptable to the Lord. But we as Christians allow these to go unchecked, and like you said, when the damage is done, it’s a lot harder to confess, repent, and make restitution if necessary.

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