Looking after grass

Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

Sunday, 4th July 2021, 7:57 am

Year after year we have been told by different sources how grass management is key to profitable livestock farming.

Dr Sinclair Mayne, the former CEO of Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, once commented that, “Northern Ireland’s competitive advantage in ruminant livestock production hinges on maximising the contribution of grass – our cheapest feed resource…”

With that in mind, the annual British Grassland Farmer of the Year competition looks for farmers with ‘excellence in management and utilisation of grassland and forages as part of a sustainable farm business.’ Last month, our local and national grassland societies held a virtual summer meeting, which focused our thoughts on the benefits of grass.

We need these reminders and encouragements because grass can be difficult to manage in Northern Ireland, and this year has had its own challenges. Following weeks of grass being in short supply the ‘spring peak’ came fast and furious in the first half of June yielding an abundance of grass.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the Bible has something to say about grass, of which there are around 10,000 species growing all over the world. In Psalm 104:14 we read that, “God causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labour of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth.”

We may have taken grass so much for granted that we have never asked ourselves the question, “Who makes the grass to grow?” The Bible tells us that grass is a gift from God to feed the nations of the earth and farmers are encouraged to be good stewards of it, making the best use of what they have.

If we don’t manage grass well the oldest leaf withers first, or the grass withers in the heat due to a lack of water. The prophet Isaiah observed this fact and wrote, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8). The Word of God endures forever so it is essential to pay attention to what it says about grass all over the world, but more importantly what it says about the people of the world. The Bible also compares them to grass. Psalm 103:15-16 says, “As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer.”

Just as we are encouraged to manage our grass, God wants us to pay attention to the spiritual things of life by trusting and depending on Jesus Christ for our salvation. It would be a pity to spend our lives managing all things well, including our grass, while neglecting our soul.

We see year by year the words of Jesus coming true, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” (Matthew 6:30). Before we wither and die like the grass, God wants us to put our trust in Him. He is the One who not only feeds your animals, but offers you eternal salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. You can be sure that if God is willing to take care of the animals, He is certainly willing to take care of your soul.

Trevor Boyd is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Married to Barbara, the father of three is an ex-sheep breeder who farmed in County Tyrone. He also previously sold animal health products across Northern Ireland.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna at [email protected] or call him on 028 9753 1234.