Bed your livestock with extra straw this Christmas

By Heather Hetterick, Ohio Ag Net

Since we have to travel back and forth between our families that are two and a half hours away from each other every Christmas, finding a Catholic mass to attend that fits into the schedule is a challenge.

About five years ago we made the half hour drive from my husband, Zach’s hometown of Felicity to the town of Ripley to attend a late afternoon mass on Christmas Eve at St. Michael’s church.

That’s where I heard my favorite sermon ever.

We arrived early, to the church perched up on a hill and decorated beautifully for the advent season. I remember it being very warm and crowded.

We were ushered up to the balcony and sat towards the front overlooking rows of people, none of which we knew.

I quickly felt at home though as I listened to the homily. Father Jim Schmitmeyer began by talking about his farm upbringing. (At this point I leaned over to Zach and said, this priest sounds like he is from from Darke or Mercer County!)

He spoke of one Christmas morning on the farm when he was a young boy out bedding the cows. As he worked in the cold barn that morning he thought about how similar it was to the stable Jesus was born in.  He imagined what it must have been like for Mary to give birth in such a place.

So, he gave the cows all extra bedding that morning and little bit more hay.

Warm tears streamed down my face. In the busy holiday season suddenly everything had been put into perspective. It was like the sermon had been written just for me. Bedding the cattle was a chore I had done so many times growing up, but I had never stopped to think about how Jesus had came into the world in surroundings much like our calves did.

When finally everyone had exited the church but us I was able to talk to Father Schmitmeyer. After explaining why we had visited the church and how we related to the sermon having grown up on farms,  he asked me where I was from. I said Botkins. He laughed. He was from Ft. Loramie, on the other side of Shelby County!

As you rush out to feed and do chores this Christmas morning I encourage you to take a moment to reflect and celebrate Jesus’s birth. One way to do it is giving your animals a little extra straw or a little bit more hay…..

Merry Christmas!

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