Uncommon Vetch

Sometimes God uses the most common things to teach us uncommon lessons. This is one of those times. Like most things since January 2021, seed has become less available and its price has skyrocketed. In planning for my winter forage planting this year, I had to consider availability and what my remaining forage budget could afford.

As the banner on my website shows, I have an affinity for crimson clover; and for more reasons than its beauty in the springtime. Clover is a legume, which means it has a nitrogen-fixing bacterium that fixes atmospheric nitrogen into compounds available to the pasture. This reduces the need for application of expensive nitrogen fertilizer and planting subsequent rotation crops. However, the price of clover seed has more than doubled this year and when you do the math, the cost outweighs the benefit. Thus, I needed a cheaper alternative to my preferred legume.

Common vetch, although found naturally in some pastures, is a good forage for ruminant animals. As part of the legume family, vetch produces a high amount of crude protein. While common vetch is for animals, there are some varieties quite safe for human consumption. Two such examples of human-edible vetch are faba and lupini beans. For years, I sat and watched my wife and her best girlfriend, Mary Calabria, eat raw lupini beans whenever we gathered in the Italian-American neighborhood they grew up in. It’s an “Italian thing.”

Common vetch can deliver up to 32 percent crude protein. In the winter, when my cattle are dining mostly on hay, the added protein is a blessing. As I was deciding on what to plant, I replaced my clover with vetch this year. Its delicate purple flowers aren’t as beautiful (to me) as my proud clover that stands knee-high, but it will serve its intended purpose of supplementing the cattle well. Alas, this post isn’t about common vetch, but the uncommon lesson it allowed me to share for God’s glory.

JD Wininger LogoMs. Diane and I designed our Cross-Dubya brand to show how our goal is to put Christ first in everything we do here at the ranch. It’s on my pickup, stock trailer, gate header, and much of my clothing these days. Heck, it’s even on our cattle. Most folks around here know what the cross stands for, so it’s pretty self-explanatory. What God reminded me of is that wearing His brand is only worthwhile if we ride for it each day. If we don’t live like Christ is first in our lives, then our brand is nothing more than a marketing ploy.

We must do more than tell people we’re Christians, we must show them. Share on X

I try not to climb up on my soapbox, in public at least, very often. This is because the world needs to hear God’s truth much more than it needs my opinion! In purchasing my winter forage seed, God gave me an opportunity to put my action where my mouth is. Ordering lots of winter wheat, a little rye grass, and common vetch, I stood by the loading dock as the young workers filled the bed of my pickup. I joked with the over-sized young fella carrying two sacks at a time, “What are my chances of carrying you home with me to unload all this?”

Thirty minutes later, I backed into the workshop and started unloading the 50-pound sacks of seed. I placed wheat in one stack, rye grass in another, and vetch alongside the rye. My plan was to plant winter wheat in the west pasture and a mixture of rye and vetch in the north and south pastures on the east side of our ranch. As I counted each sack, that’s when I noticed that instead of common vetch, the young men had instead loaded hairy vetch.

A simple mistake, I thought; I’ll correct it tomorrow. The next morning, I called my friend who manages our local farm and ranch cooperative. When I explained I got hairy vetch instead of common, Mr. Donnie apologized. I added, “No harm, no foul. Just add any cost difference to my bill, unless there’s a big difference.”

He laughed loudly, “You haven’t purchased hairy vetch in a while, have you? It’s over double the cost.” With that, I assured him I would be there today to exchange the seed. Later that afternoon, I walked into the store and my manager friend was out. I showed the ticket to the young lady behind the counter and she looked at me like I had two heads.

“I think it was just a loading mistake yesterday. I’d like to exchange the hairy vetch and get what I paid for.” Again, the sweet young lady looked perplexed. “This way your inventory is correct, and I’m not planting seed I didn’t pay for.”

“But this costs a lot more. And you’re returning it”, she asked quizzically. That’s when the Holy Spirit nudged and whispered in my soul, Now’s your chance.

I smiled and said, “I know I could’ve kept my mouth shut and just planted it, but that would’ve been wrong on so many levels. Y’all treat me too good to do that to you, and had I done it anyway, God would’ve snatched me bald!” I removed my ball cap and retorted, “You can see I’ve made that mistake before, can’t you?” Well, that’s all it took to have the entire sales staff erupt in laughter.

The young lady directed me to drive back to the dock with my ticket and exchange it for the correct seed. She shook her head and smiled as I turned to leave. I wondered, did she think I was crazy for not keeping the more expensive seed? I wasn’t sure; but as I climbed into the cab of my truck, I thanked God for helping me deliver His lesson. Unless it’s lived out in our lives, integrity and honesty are just empty words. They’re grandiose ideals for sure, but if we claim to be Christians, then they have to be more than mere words to us. James 2:14-26 reminds us that faith without works is dead.

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As I was broadcasting the seed ahead of a coming rain, I praised God for giving me an opportunity to bring Him glory. Will that young lady remember the lesson the burly old farmer taught by his example? I may never know, but God will. I smiled with arm raised; remembering that my job isn’t to bring the harvest, but to plant the seed. It won’t surprise me when God brings forth a plentiful harvest of winter forage to bless my obedience.

God’s blessings,



Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.


52 thoughts on “Uncommon Vetch”

  1. I love your expression “wearing His brand.” Brands are conspicuous and worn because they have value- a high price tag, we have opportunities to be conspicuous by living in the fruit of the Spirit- the price was the cross. Thanks for one more illustration.

    1. Amen! I think the “value” comes from the people wearing/representing the brand my friend. Know that you represent God’s brand very well Ms. Marilyn. Honored to ride along with you on this trail we call life ma’am. God’s blessings.

  2. It’s a sad commentary that those “grandiose ideals” of integrity and honesty do seem more and more uncommon in these times. Thank the Lord that uncommon Christian men & women still bear faithful witness to the character of the One whose image we bear. The world is watching. God’s blessings, J. D.

    1. It certainly is a sad statement Ms. Dottie; and yes, the world is watching my friend. Now more than ever, we need to be reflecting God’s light and love rather than tooting our own horn. More word, less world. 🙂 God’s blessing dear lady.

  3. I love opportunities to do the right thing, even when it costs me something, J.D. It’s a test of sorts as to whether I’m going to trust God, through acting honestly, to give me exactly what I need or steal something He never intended me to have. God always blesses honesty. Always. May God give you an abundant physical AND spiritual harvest from this lesson.

    1. He absolutely does bless us when we honor Him Ms. Lori. Thank you so much for being willing to pay the price my friend. Perhaps the fact that folks like you are willing to pay the cost to show the world what God can do with a surrendered life is what sets up apart. God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. Your post today reminds me of the old song, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” They will also know us by our integrity and honesty, and you proved that to the young lady at the store.

    1. I sure hope I make some impact for God’s kingdom every day. Sometimes it might only sharing a smile with someone, but we much always make the effort my friend. Thank you so much Ms. Edwina.

  5. J.D., I love this post! You brought such a critical point across with a sense of humor. This >> “Unless it’s lived out in our lives, integrity and honesty are just empty words. They’re grandiose ideals for sure, but if we claim to be Christians, then they have to be more than mere words to us.”

    1. How very kind. Thank you Ms. Joanne. It’s hard keeping up with the quality of your posts, but we each do our best to honor God as He sees fit for us. God’s blessings young lady.

  6. Isn’t it wonderful when God presents us with the opportunity to witness to His love in simple and genuine ways? Yes, J. D., you have planted the seeds in the minds of these folks; it’s up to God to grant the harvest.

    1. Yessir Mr. Warren. I daydream now and again about the people that I won’t be expecting to meet in heaven. I can’t wait for God to show us the harvest from the seeds we’ve planted for His sake. Praying your yield is spectacular my friend. 🙂

    1. How very kind. Thank you Ms. Debbie. We don’t always get to see the results of what we’ve done here on earth, but I pray I’ve helped more than harmed when it’s all said and done. God’s blessings ma’am.

  7. You are the real deal my friend!! I absolutely love when God provides one of those opportunities to actually walk our talk. I especially loved it when I could do it in front of my young children, hoping God impressed the truth on their hearts.

    1. Oh, from your lips to God’s ear my friend. I pray daily that He helps me to become the man you and others think me to be. Most days, I feel that I don’t even come close to measuring up, but all that does is compel me to work harder the next day.

  8. When I saw the title of your message and the picture that goes with it, I thought, “Oh, no! Not a message about Vetch!” We have Vetch in one of our hayfields and is not my favorite. Horses and cows like it, but our mowing machine did not. It clogged up the mower, raked into giant windrows taller than me, and made the baler complain. But with all that aside, your message (even vetch inspired) is a good one. Our best way to spread the Good News of Jesus is to live the example and show that our every action reflects the presence of Jesus in our hearts.

    1. Yes ma’am; if you can let it grow to maturity, it will surely choke a baler. Especially if you’re square baling. Sorry to have given you a “bad taste”, but grateful you found goodness in the message, even though not so much in my choice of legume. 🙂 Praying you a blessed week my farming friend.

    1. Aww shucks! Thanks Ms. Melissa. I promise to keep writing as long as God keeps finding ways to use me. I love how He fills our cup, pours us out, then refills with even more and better blessings to share. Like your friendship ma’am.

  9. I love everything about this! Any chance we have to glorify God and teach the next generation about Him, we must grab it. I’m sure God will bless your crop of common vetch in numerous ways.

    1. Thank you Ms. Candyce. I enjoy those opportunities to share with young people. Perhaps that’s why I’m so taken with our wonderful, growing group of AWANA kids at our church. To pour ourselves into them, and to watch them soak up God’s word like little sponges, always leaves me so energized at the end of the evening.

  10. Once more, J.D., you’ve loaded me up with extra bits of knowledge I’m not quite sure what to do with. ‘Course if I happen to be over at our local Tractor Supply store and somebody mentions something about seed for their pastures, I could just off-handedly say something like “Yeah, ain’t it ridiculous how much clover and hairy vetch seed has skyrocketed lately?” That may never happen, but opportunities to live out the faith I write and talk about is surely going to come. Once again, my friend, you’ve presented a real life example of the kind of knowledge America and western Christianity is in deep need of. Thanks for another enriching, encouraging, and informative visit to the ranch.

    1. If you want to really “torque ’em up” Mr. Ron, mention how much a ton of fertilizer is these days. I can remember $70/ton in Florida many years ago, around $325/ton when we moved here in 2013, and this year I’m paying $700/ton. Ridiculous. Plant for legumes is all I know. God’s blessings my friend; and I can’t wait for the day when we and our spouses can sit and enjoy a meal and feast on God’s word together one day.

  11. Praise the Lord for such a great opportunity. People do watch Christians to see if we walk with Him daily and in every thing we do. Also, thanks for the farm life education. I pray that God blesses you and your animal through this winter.

    1. So very true Ms. Yvonne. Know that I am so grateful for Christian friends like you who are willing to hold me accountable for the way I represent God. While none of us will be perfect, we can all be better. Especially with friends like you to cheer us on and lift us up my friend. God’s blessings ma’am.

  12. A new lesson learned, an old lesson reinforced! I so enjoyed this post, thank you. It’s good to remember people are observing what we do, not just what we say. May you have a bumper crop this year!

    1. Why thank you Ms. Wendy. God sent rain less than 12 hours after I got the last of seed planted; and He sent us over two inches more yesterday and today. With everyone getting a good drink and some abundant sunshine in the forecast (even with cooler than normal temperatures), I suspect that’s exactly what God has in mind. Don’t you just love how when you share His blessings with others, He gives you more? Another proof point that we can’t out give God. God’s blessings ma’am.

  13. I’m sure you will reap a bountiful harvest, not only in your fields, but with the seed you planted in another person’s life. People don’t get too much of what you did anymore. Most would have kept the more expensive seed but your honesty reflected to the store employees who Christ really is. And I think you little tad of humor will help the lady remember you! Thanks for sharing, J.D.

    1. I think that it struck me as “uncommon” too Ms. Barb. As I was reflecting on this, I smiled inside because my first thought was, “I have to make this right.” That’s why I called the store manager; not to complain or fuss about it (it’s a 40-mile round trip to return something), but to correct the mistake. Had it been a few dollars difference, I would have planted it and saved the time and money. I often remind folks not to get too worked up over mistakes like this by sharing, “That’s why they’re called accidents instead of on-purposes.” I’m wont to believe that most folks would do the same, but the young lady’s reaction showed me how uncommon honesty has become. Thank you for your great comments ma’am.

    1. Thanks Coach Mark. If we don’t show that Christ has made us different from the world, then why would anyone see what is to gain by following Him? Didn’t feel like it cost me anything, but had I not been honest, it sure would have.

  14. I’ve experienced the same thing when I’m undercharged for something and always amazed at the shock on the face of those when I go back to make things right. Grateful for (and not surprised by) your obedience. God will bless abundantly!

    1. Yes ma’am. I think that our honesty has become a rare commodity in this world my friend. I too am not surprised that you go that extra mile to make something right. It’s who God makes us to be, if we’ll let Him. God’s blessings ma’am.

  15. Honesty is always the best policy. Even if we can get by without being caught, God sees and will catch us. We truly reap what we sow in God’s kingdom. I agree, brother J.D., you’ll have an abundant harvest! Thank you for being a shining example of Christian character and integrity to a lost and dying world.

  16. Beautiful lesson, J.D. This story of seed is definitely a great lesson for us spiritually. By planting the seed of the Word, our testimony sure grows a bountiful harvest for the kingdom of God. I desire to hear and do…obey the Word of God.

  17. Such a wonderful example, J.D. and how I wish I had your quick wit! I’m certain the entire staff was impacted by your witness and will remember the seeds you’ve planted (or not) for some time.


    1. Amen Ms. LuAnn. I think there are many who weaken their testimony for Christ because they are too much like the world around them. We Christians are called to be different from this world. God’s blessings my friend.

  18. When integrity becomes a way of life (as it should in all Christians), I find it surprising when others don’t or can’t understand it. Integrity comes with wisdom. and you, my friend, have an abundance of both! Your testimony will be remembered and God will honor your actions.

    1. Great comment Ms. Karen. I think so many others are surprised by it today because it is exhibited so little. If our children are never taught what it means to live with integrity, how can we ever expect them to apply it to their lives. I think the same applies to God’s children too. Well said my friend; and thank you so much for your always king words.

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