Family, Parenting

The Lesson of the Cows


“Where’s our dinner?!”

While visiting relatives at their small cattle ranch in Tennessee an interesting thing happened.

The cows refused to move.

With winter approaching, the weather had naturally turned colder and the fields weren’t producing grass fast enough to keep pace with the cattle’s appetites.  Time was needed for the grass to grow back.  While they waited on the grass, our relatives confined the herd to one field and brought them baled hay to eat instead.  About once a day our relatives used their tractor to transport humongous hay bales out to giant metal hay bins.  The cows gathered around the bins and feasted on the easy meal.  They ate this way for weeks.

By the time we arrived, the warmer weather had returned and the fields were once again grassy – grassy enough to feed the herd.  It was time to let the cattle loose into the nearby field.

When dinner time rolled around, the gate was opened, the cattle-dogs were called, and our relatives began to move the herd.  The dogs circled the cows, barked, and nipped at their heels.  We all hooted and hollered and pointed the way to the open gate, but the herd wouldn’t budge.  Well, that’s not quite true; they moved enough to get away from the dogs and our annoying hollering, but they never strayed far from the metal feeding bins. It was obvious they were expecting dinner.

With all these people present and no hay bale in sight, the cows started to moo.

At first it was a random moo here and there.  But soon it grew into a chorus of howling discontent.  You would think they hadn’t eaten for weeks, but there were still remnants of yesterday’s hay bale scattered around the pasture.  What the cows failed to understand was that dinner was served; it was just over in the nearby field.  All they had to do was go and find it.  Despite our efforts to get them moving, the cows remained steadfast.  They had grown accustomed to easy meals and they wanted them to continue.

Basically, they had become lazy.


“Where’s our dinner?!”

The cows’ laziness was a reminder to me how easy it is to let children become like those cattle.  I often find myself putting laundry away for my kids or cleaning something for them that I know they should be doing themselves.

But sometimes its just easier to do it myself.

In the short run, it may be easier for me, but in the long run I am harming my children.  If kids don’t learn responsibility at an early age they are going to bellow just like those cows.  Instead of being a blessing to others, they will become a burden, and an annoyance.

The Bible says, “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” Proverbs 12:11 ESV.


2 thoughts on “The Lesson of the Cows

  1. I love your story of your cows! I too am striving to build responsibility and self sufficiency in my kids, but you’re right, it’s not always easy. And I love the quote from Proverbs. Have a great week! Aloha, Lori

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