Gus the Ram & Gideon: Winning on Hope

Seven. That was the final count for how many ram lambs we had born this year. As the saying goes, there’s always the one black sheep. This year, it was very true. Sybil had given us the only natural colored ram of the year. Born on a windy day, he was dubbed Gusty and Gus for short.

I’m not sure why, but Gus was friendlier than any other lamb that year. As such, Gideon formed an attachment.

The “black sheep” of the bunch of rams, Gus was special to Gideon

“Don’t get attached. We don’t keep rams,” we continually reminded him. No matter, Gid is the king of making excuses. The final one he landed on was if Gus wins at the NC State Fair, we had to keep him. I just shook my head, but let him hope.

Gideon spent extra time on Gus the days before the show. He trimmed his “dreadlocks” from his face, and gave him a buzz cut. He washed him, and he put show sheen in his fleece. He even had a special halter picked out just for Gus, although I’m not sure why pink and blue was the choice (the halters would later get mixed up in the chaos of the show).DSC_6013


I had to admit, Gus looked good. He had one of my favorite fleeces of the group, and I couldn’t help but wish he had been a ewe.

When we arrived at the show, we walked the pens of sheep to scope out the competition and view the various breeds. I secretly told mom that night that it was tough competition this year. Don’t get your hopes up. So, we didn’t, but Gid did.

Because Gus is a ram, he couldn’t show in the junior show. So Gid showed his mom, and waited patiently to be able to bring him in the ring during open show. When it came time for Gus’s class, Gideon did a little jump and clapped his hands in excitement.

He won first, and Gid was grinning.

Hugs in the middle of the ring for winning his class.

He then went in for champion Medium/fine Natural Colored Ram.

He won grand champion in that division.

Gideon came out of the ring with the biggest smile and said, “now we have to keep him…”

I told him not to let his head get too big, but he did a good job.DSC_6243Gus didn’t win overall champion ram, but he did win his fleece class.

Gideon thought he was done for the day, but there was still Overall Grand Champion Fleece yet to be decided. Back in he went with his prize ram—Gus, and out he came with the champion banner, a plaque, and the biggest grin you ever did see. Gus had won it all.

I smiled and shook my head at this (not so) little boy and his little ram, my heart filled with pride. I looked back over to see Gid on his knee talking to Gus, telling him what an awesome job he did.DSC_6290Believing in someone or something can go a long way, especially when hope is involved. Gideon and Gus won on that, and now, I think Gus is staying on Countryview Farm.

A Different Kind of Fair: 2018 NC State Fair Recap

Another year has come and gone at the NC State Fair, but this year was different in many ways. I had to travel by air this time to get there thanks to living in a new zip code, but I was willing to do whatever it took to be there. I’m pretty sure hell would have to freeze over before I gave up State Fair.Image-8It was different in more than the airplane ride this year, though. This is the first year in 16 years of showing at the fair that the Lintons have not shown a goat at the fair. What?! There was a time that I never thought I’d say that. Granted, there was a time when I swore I’d never own a sheep. Here we are, bringing 18 of them to the fair. Never say never. This was also the first year that Alec didn’t show. Adulting, man…it’ll get you. He was able to join us after the sheep show to help us load sheep and eat fair food.DSC_6328Yet another aspect that was different this year was that the fair closed the first day due to Hurricane Michael. Guess who had a flight scheduled to land that day? This girl. Thankfully, the storm had blown over by the time I arrived. Somehow, I managed to miss the five inches of snow Lincoln, NE got and the hurricane rains. I did bring fall temperatures with me (your welcome NC).

Anyway, there was a lot going on. Everything worked out, though. On Friday morning we headed to show Isaac and Gideon’s infamous pigs. The boys had a lot of difficulty with these pigs throughout the circuit shows, and it was killing me not to be there for them. Facetime and text updates were what I had to resort to. Aldo and Mack were stubborn and loved the rail (not a good combo for shows). The boys were nervous heading into showmanship drive, and to be frank, I was too. I felt like throwing up. Granted, this is normal for me when they are in the ring. I gave them a pep talk with a few pointers and in they went.

I could have screamed when Gideon got pulled for the final drive and was doing mental praise hands when Isaac did too. Our goal was final drive. Anything else was sprinkles. My nerves were still bad, though. Bad enough to give my friend and bridesmaid, Joanna, the finger. Not THE finger, but the “hang on/cannot deal right now” finger. Thankfully she totally understood and watched from the rail. Isaac ended up in the final 5 and did so good. Good enough that I was in tears (just think what it will be like with my own kids). While neither G nor I got a banner, they both ended up in top 6. They stuck with it, kept cool heads, and drove those pigs. I was dern proud.DSC_3879DSC_4613The rest of the day was spent catching up with friends and running around taking people’s photos. Thank you to all who entrusted me with taking pics of your kids. You helped pay for my plane ticket to be there!DSC_4590DSC_3873DSC_4585DSC_4634DSC_4226The day at the fair concluded with me showing in the performance hog show. Ya’ll,  I’ve been coaching the boys on showing pigs, but showing them yourself…man, I felt rusty. Nonetheless, I had a ball showing the barrow and ended up with a Reserve Champion Market Performance Hog for See Farms. My day was made complete with a trip to CookOut. They don’t have those in NE.DSC_4666The second day at the fair was a bit different than the first, but it was still busy. My Fit Bit let me know that I achieved 8,000 steps that day. Instead of showing, I was on the job for the Sale of Champions. I helped check buyers in, took photographs, and videod the sale with my partner in crime, Emily. It was a record-breaking sale, bringing in $190,000, some of which goes to scholarships. It is always a ton of fun to work the Sale, and I often pinch myself that this is my job! Once the sale was complete and the truck loaded, Emily and I headed to the Golden Arches for dinner at 10 at night followed by a tour of her new apartment. I got home around midnight to get up the next morning for a sunrise engagement shoot for some friends. It was early, but amazing lighting and so much fun!Image-6Image-10The next few days were spent washing and clipping 18 sheep. Let me tell you, this is no easy or speedy task. It took us a solid 2 ½ days to complete. The sheep, of course, despised us, but didn’t look like a hot mess for the show. One sheep, Cain, even did a flip in the air and landed in the mud—he got washed twice. Mom, grandma, Isaac, Gid, and I clipped until dark while Dad and Alec built a divider for the trailer. The guys also built a new sheep stand, that made much easier. Those nights, we didn’t eat until 8.DSC_5984DSC_5948DSC_5971DSC_5965DSC_5981DSC_6017Image-7Image-9On Wednesday, Mom, the boys, and I loaded up the truck with all our feed and supplies and put all the sheep in the trailer. By the way, that is simple to write, but not simple to do. Catching sheep isn’t always a walk in the park. Thankfully, I have brothers who are excellent sheep wranglers.Image-11We were off to the races…errr… show. The fair had decided to rearrange things a bit which meant no backing trailers for this girl. I approved of the new set-up. The vets were super helpful, and we got the 18 sheep checked-in in no time. After some last-minute touch-ups, we headed back home for some Brightleaf hot dogs (because you can’t get those in NE either), grabbed our bags, and headed back to Raleigh to stay in a hotel. The show was early, and we didn’t want to deal with morning traffic.

Sheep show day arrived. We were hopeful for many of our sheep, but also knew that it was a bigger show than years before, with new people. The next several hours went in a blur. While we brought 18 sheep, we showed many sheep more than once because they were entered in both the junior show and open show. All in all, we entered the ring around 50 different times! No, I’m not exaggerating. I just did the math. The boys didn’t show them all. I showed in the open show. Let me tell you…it’s weird having your name called Marisa See over the speaker phone…yet another difference this year.DSC_6070DSC_6081DSC_6265DSC_6267DSC_6165DSC_6271DSC_6196DSC_6199DSC_6203DSC_6182DSC_6258DSC_6147DSC_6144DSC_6125DSC_6068Ultimately, we couldn’t be more thrilled with how it all went. We came home with many top 3 in classes and a few champion banners! Our top honors included:

Junior Show:

  • Reserve Champion Junior Ewe–Georgette
  • Grand Champion NC Born and Bred Ewe–Georgette

Open Show:

  • Medium/fine White Grand Champion Ram–Churchill
  • Medium/fine White Reserve Champion Ram–Pierre
  • Medium/fine Natural Grand Champion Ram–Gus
  • Medium/fine Natural Grand Champion Ewe–Stormi
  • Medium/fine Natural Reserve Champion Ewe–Georgette
  • Supreme Grand Champion Fleece–Gus

Gideon also came away with the Grand Champion Junior Showman and both boys placed in costume class.DSC_6398DSC_6320DSC_6317DSC_6303Each of the boys is attached to a certain sheep. It does my heart good to see them cheer on their sheep as much as I cheer on the boys. Isaac’s prize sheep is Astrid. While she didn’t win a banner, she did win top NC Born and Bred in her class. She is, and always will be Isaac’s Astrid. Gideon has bonded with Gus, our only natural born ram this year.  Well, Gid and Gus won not only their division, but took home the top honor of Grand Champion Fleece, beating out purebreds (we always get odd looks at our crosses, but we also get results) and people out of state. DSC_6162DSC_6243Alec was able to get off work early to meet us right as the show was ending. So, the whole family was able to head out on the fair to ride some rides (bumper cars and Ferris wheel being my only rides), and eating all our favorite food.DSC_6414DSC_6410DSC_6422DSC_6463DSC_6465DSC_6457DSC_6407DSC_6435DSC_6492DSC_6440Image-5It was a wonderful day! We packed up by 9, and headed home. I caught a flight the next morning at 10am back to NE. I now sit here in between the classes I teach, reminiscing on the 2018 NC State Fair and time with family and friends. While I wish I were back to be with them, I’m also happy to be back with my husband who had to lead a bachelor life while I was gone and deal with the very needy and moody Callie Cat. This was also our first state fair not together.Image-4Needless to say, this NC state Fair was a tad different than years past, but it still holds all the wonder as before. I still made memories with the people I love, and still enjoyed the fried food and livestock shows as much as ever. NC State Fair, you are worth every mile I traveled to reach you, and while there’ a lot of changes happening in life right now, you stood pretty constant.DSC_6473




Honeymooning in Scotland–Day 6

I was really excited to start this day out. It was going to be all about exploring and hiking. Disclaimer: Garrett and I took charge of planning different parts of the trip. Today was one of the days I had planned. I may have overestimated my abilities. You’ll find out what I mean in a bit.

Our first stop of the morning was Fairy Glenn.


We weren’t sure if we were in the right place at first. It was also a bit sketchy considering it was a one lane road. By one lane road, I mean that it is a two-way but there’s only room for one car so you have to pull over onto special passes. We’d get really used to these type of the roads as our adventures in Skye continued.

Cattle guards  on a one lane raod

Needless to say, we ended up in the right place and it was truly magical. You could really imagine fairies in the glen.


After a quick jaunt, we headed to Quiraing. Wow! The scenery was gorgeous!


We were amazed at the amount of traffic. You have to park on the side of a single car road. There aren’t large parking lots or car parks as they are called, so the side of the road it is. We would learn that sometimes that mean parking on the edge of a cliff or half a mile from your destination, and that’s not in peak tourist season.

The Quiraing was a wonderful hike. While we didn’t go to the very end, we hiked for over an hour on a trail that was just cut into the cliff.


Garrett teased me a lot because I would often get distracted by all the sheep that were able to just graze anywhere it seemed. They often shared our path.


I wanted to take one home. This pic is the closest I got to taking a sheep home.

We made the quick stop to Kilt Rock and the falls before eating burgers at a cafe.


The next point of interest was Brother’s Point, also called Rubha nam Brathairean. We almost skipped this stop, but I had read on the Earth Trekkers blog that it was worth it and not as touristy. They were right! There was a small car park just past the Glenview Hotel. We had to cross the street and walk down the road just a bit to get to the trail head. We went down what looks like someone’s driveway, entered two gates into a sheep pasture.

Don’t forget to close the gate behind you. Sheep are inside.


We certainly were doubting if we were in the right place, but noticed a few people down towards the bottom. We also saw signs directing our path.


We found ruins, lots of sheep, barnacles, and the most gorgeous of views. What’s better is it is secluded and not crowded. The hike is not too strenuous either. From here, you can also see Kilt Rock in the distance. We didn’t walk all the way down the point, but even still it would become my favorite place of the entire Scotland trip! I cannot recommend it enough!!


Behind the scenes of the photo above.


Our final stop was Oldman Storr. It was completely opposite experience than Brother’s Point. I straight died. Don’t believe me? Garrett documented:


The trail to Oldmann Storr is all uphill, no shade, and a long way. In fact, we didn’t make it. I looked up at Garrett and said I can’t. In my defense, my foot ankle was not happy, I had a slight cold, and poorly planned a long hike at the end of a full day of hiking. I absolutely hated to call it quits, but I know my limits. I think Garrett was a bit relieved too. Moral of the story, rethink planning all major hiking on one day. That was my bad. I also suggest bringing sunscreen. You wouldn’t think that would be needed in Scotland, but we were blessed with warmer than normal weather and full sun.


This is where we were supposed to go, but never reached.

After calling it quits, we went back to Portree to shop where I got some things for the boys. In my journal my exact words to end the day were, “we ate at Isles and called it early for bed. We wrote postcards and planned tomorrow. We are pretty dead.”

And that is the end of day 6 on Scotland. It was my favorite, but also the most taxing physically.


  1. In order to plan different parts of the trip, but still collaborate, we used the website Inspirock. It was fabulous. It not only allowed us a venue to plug in our plans and information, but also gave suggestions. This is a great tool for any trip anywhere!
  2. Bring lots of water hiking.
  3. Visit Fairy Glenn in the morning before crowds hit. It makes for a more intimate experience that adds to the magic.
  4. Don’t hold out for a parking spot in a parking lot. Just go ahead and park on the side of the road.
  5. Kilt Rock was cool, but will only take you 10 minutes to see it. Plan for that as you travel.
  6. Make the time for Brother’s Point. You can also find dinosaur footprints.
  7. Beauty lies everywhere. Even on the side of the road. Stop to see it.DSC_0505DSC_0510


Sheep in the Mist||Photo Shoot

There is really no purpose to this blog post other than to show off my sheep and how awesome they look in the fog. I’m so glad I grabbed my camera, and the sheep made the perfect models. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Happy Monday!

PS Be sure to read the captions for commentary


Georgette stops to check me out, but quickly decides the camera isn’t safe. Time to run to her friends.
It’s a rainbow of sheep…well a neutral colored rainbow.
I call this her supermodel look.
Paisley is always such a diva. She’s stomping her foot at me here. So. Much. Sassiness.
Silver and Georgette really wishing I’d go away
The white sheep just seem to be one with the misty fog. 


If the sheep were making a movie, this would be the cover. Evelyn is even bowing.

Lambing Season- 2016-

When it comes to animals being born on the farm, I think I get the most giddy over the lambs. There is something about those little wooly babies and their over attentive mommas.




Aspen was the first ewe to go. We walked outside to 2 little black girl lambs.



Meet Lace….


and Silver…

I just knew it would be a short time before the next lamb would arrive. I checked several times a day and through the night. Alas, it was like watching a pot boil. Finally, Aspen’s sister, Fiona, had a super splashy baby girl that is all diva. Meet Paisley…


We now had 3 more mommas to lamb. I made my predictions as to who would go next. Of course, they decided to spite me and go in all sorts of orders. Our old girl Duff, was the third one to lamb. Once again, we had another little girl, but this one was white! Meet Eve…



We were down to our southdown sisters. Sybil went first and had a super black little girl. I’m somewhat partial to Sybil, so this baby was really exciting for me. Meet Georgette…




The last arrival was Edith’s little white lamb. Once again, we had a girl. While we just missed her birth, we caught her right after, so she was still getting cleaned off by mom. Meet Evelyn…




We are so in love with our 6 little girls. They are all very different, and have way cool wool. We can’t wait to show them at State Fair. They have already been on several field trips to visit kids and tell everybody about wool.


Now that lambing season is over, shearing season is about to begin, so stay tuned! For now, enjoy all of the cuteness.














NC State Fair–Part 3

An early morning dawned, as our last day of the NC State Fair came upon us. It was time to show some sheep.

Days before the show, we had washed and trimmed up the sheep to get them looking spiffy for the show. We brought four ewes–Sybil, Edith, Aspen, and Fifi. The boys were super excited. The wool sheep show is one of their favorites. The night before, they put together costumes for the costume class. You can dress up your sheep and yourself, but it has to be worked around wool. Isaac was a fireman theme because wool is flame retardant.


Gideon was an artist and explained how wool can take dye.


Both were cute as could be. Gideon won first and Isaac won second. It was a great way to start the show!

The next part of the show were the ewe classes. These classes are judged mostly on the quality of the wool, but also on the ewe’s conformation. Classes are separated by white and colored wool, and long and medium/fine wool. Isaac and Alec were both in the white, long-wool class. It made sense as Fifi and Aspen are twins.


This was Alec’s first time showing sheep. He didn’t mind it, but he didn’t like the height difference. At 6’4″ he did quite  a bit of bending. Still, he looked like a stud.






Both the boys did good, but Isaac took home the blue ribbon with Aspen. Fifi and Alec got third.







Gideon showed Edith in the white medium/fine wool class, and won fourth.







If you went by color, you’d never guess that Edith’s twin was Sybil; however, besides the color, they look just the same. I showed Sybil in the colored, medium/fine wool class.



Sybil can have a little bit of sass.


And sometimes, we both toss our heads in disgust…


But ultimately, she still gets kisses.


She ended up pulling in a third. I was excited that the judge liked all of the girls conformation. He said they were really stout and well made. Because Isaac got first, he went back in for champion drive. Gid and I were also in the champion drive showing other people’s sheep.


Champion drive is against all of the ewes–white and colored, long and fine, old and young. Would you believe it, Isaac and Aspen were named Reserve Supreme Ewe!! I almost let go of the sheep I was holding I was so excited. This was the second year in a row that one of our sheep has received this honor. It makes it extra special that we raised these girls.


All in all, the show was so much fun, and super exciting!


Our day wasn’t over yet, though. The boys had ride tickets left. We all got to ride 🙂











DSC_0053And with that, 2015 NC State Fair was over for the Lintons. It was quite the ride (literally and figuratively), filled with so many memories. Despite it being a lot of work, early mornings, and stress, it is always one of our favorite parts of the year.






The Year of the Goat/Sheep: Chinese New Year

While today may seem like a regular day, for some it is quite the holiday. For me, it is my Valentine’s Day since Garrett and I missed out on the normal one due to ice and work schedules. We never liked to follow trends anyway.

That isn’t the holiday I’m talking about, though. Today is the Chinese New Year. What makes it even cooler, is it marks the year of the goat/sheep–two of my favorite farm animals. When I heard that it was the year of the goat/sheep, I got curious as to what this meant and what exactly the Chinese New Year entails.

Luckily, I have a friend at school who is an international student from China. Yue answered all my questions, and told me some pretty cool stuff. So, here is what I learned:

The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is based off of the lunar calendar. In China, this holiday is equivalent to our Christmas except wearing red and green is a no,no. On the Spring Festival, people wear red, but green is considered unlucky. In addition, Chinese people think that the combination of red and green is very ugly. I thought this was very interesting, and will be sure to not wear a Christmas colored sweater if I ever visit China.

no gren
Don’t wear green!

When I asked Yue if it was the year of the goat or the sheep, she explained that Chinese people do not differentiate between the two. This was very odd to me, as they are so different for me. I suppose, then you could say that it is the year of goat or sheep–pick your favorite 🙂 Yue said that there wasn’t anything really special about the year of the goat/sheep, but senior citizens in China think that babies born in this year are weak.


Where my family has black-eyed peas and collard greens for New Year’s, Yue’s family makes dumplings. She told me that it is a lengthy process to make the dumplings and the filling for them. Her family enjoys dumplings filled with mutton and carrots, but other families may use a combination of pork, green Chinese onion, and cabbage. In addition to eating dumplings, there are fireworks. Yue likes to watch the Spring Festival Gala with her family. When it comes to the Lunar New Year, people wear new clothes (usually red), and kids say “Happy New Year” to their parents and grandparents. Older generations give “red bag” filled with money to the children.

Yue also shared with me these facts about the holiday:

One week before the Spring Festival, many Chinese workers who work in big cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, begin to go back to their hometown, the rural area in China. The expense for travel through half of China is not cheap. But these workers would rather spend a large amount of money they earned during the last year just to go back home and get together with their families. So, Spring Festival is not only a holiday for people to have a break, but also a convention to remind each generation the meaning of family and true happiness. 

I’m so thankful to Yue for sharing her culture with me. I enjoyed learning about it! So, here is to the year of the goat/sheep. Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Perhaps, there will be dumplings on the menu today.

It was n”ICE” to have a good day!

Around two inches of ice covered the landscape today. While it was pretty gross to do chores in, it made for some pretty pictures. Enjoy!

scen heart chain

Apparently, Rocket is adverse to going in his shelter.
Apparently, Rocket is adverse to going in his shelter.

twig pig ice arrow chicken coop shep pasture goat and gid monkey graass isicles golf cart sheep issac and all sheep eating

Our little fighter, made it through the night. We have been tending to her throughout the day, giving her bits of milk. While we were amazed that she made it this far, we are not out of the woods yet. The next few days will be crucial. She does not like to suckle on the bottle, but we are working with her. Time will tell, but until then, she is a little miracle that I like to snuggle with on the couch. 20150217_173910[1]

A World Without Ag Wednesdays: Tennis Balls–We Don’t Get Along

Let me go ahead and say that I am not a sports person. I am all for watching them but I fail epically when it comes to playing them. My sport of choice was target shooting–no balls or running involved. However, I was forced to play a sport during my undergraduate career. To graduate, I had to pick a PE, so I chose tennis. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Actually, I know what I was thinking–swimming was at 8am and bowling required driving. That left me with tennis. Quite frankly I was more worried about what I was going to wear than anything. Really, I was also worried that achieving an ‘A’ would require actual talent… something I don’t have.

Anyway, before I get into what this has to do with agriculture, I wanted to share an awkward Marisa life moment. Don’t judge. I had been doing alright in tennis. I could hit the ball some and serve a little. I was doing ok. My goal was to not get noticed for doing bad or good, but to just blend in. I epically failed on that front one morning. Tennis was from 11-12, and I had a class before that. As usual, I skipped breakfast (I’m not a big morning eater). It had never been an issue before, and I got lunch right after tennis. That day it was an issue.

I was standing around with the other students, listening to coach explain different terms and stuff. I started to get really dizzy, and decided that squatting would be a good idea. I knew what was happening. I was getting too hot and hadn’t had anything to eat. I was going to pass out if this guy didn’t hurry his speech up. Hold it together, Marisa I thought to myself. I lasted until he finished his talk, stood up to walk, and made it to the fence and plopped. The world was definitely black and swirling. I would say I was embarrassed, but honestly, I was too busy concentrating on making my world go back to a normal angle. Coach came over and started asking me questions. I don’t think I really responded. He asked if I wanted him to pick me up and carry me to the bleachers. I held up my hand emphatically, horrified at that thought. I got my butt up and wobbly walked to the bleachers. Coach gave me a granola bar and Gatorade. I was completely fine in 5 minutes. Now, that the world wasn’t spinning like a fair ride, I was thoroughly embarrassed.


During my semester of tennis, I learned a few things: 1) eat breakfast before participating in sports 2) if you don’t want to play tennis one day, just pass out 3) tennis balls are made of wool.

The third point brings me to agriculture. The yellow fuzz on tennis balls are wool felt. Originally tennis balls were made of wood, and over many years, evolved. Early tennis balls were made of leather and stuffed with wool or hair. We now have the neon green fuzzy balls today. The fuzz makes them more aerodynamic, and the more bald they get, the faster and bouncier they get. Around 300,000,000 tennis balls are made every year in the world. That is a lot of tennis balls, I will not be playing with.

I know this is a world without ag post, but how bad would it really be if there were no tennis balls? I know I wouldn’t have an embarrassing story to tell, that’s for sure.



Chewing Cud and Ruminating

Have you ever wondered what’s up with cows chewing their cud? What is that stuff and why do they do it? Maybe you don’t even know what I’m talking about. That is perfectly ok because we are about to cover cud and more.

Cud Chewing
Cud Chewing

Let’s start with the fact that cows are ruminant animals, along with  goats, sheep, and deer. A ruminant animal means they have 4 compartments to their stomach. They don’t have 4 stomachs, but rather it is 4 rooms that make up one stomach. Each “room” has its own special job and name. Before getting to that, let’s first go to the beginning–the mouth.

Photo Cred: UKAg, Agripedia
Photo Cred: UKAg, Agripedia

Ruminants do not have upper incisors, only lower. These are for plucking food. They do have pretty sharp upper and lower molars, though that grinds their food. These teeth are most useful the second time around. I realize that sounds really strange, but ruminants mostly swallow their food whole. They will regurgitate it to chew it again. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

So, the cow has swallowed the hay. The food travels through the esophagus and hits the first compartment of the stomach–the rumen.


This is the largest part of the stomach (holding 4-6 gallons)  and is responsible for a lot of fermentation. Over 50-65% of starch and soluble sugars are absorbed here. Bacteria break down the food and cause carbon monoxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide to form.

Photo Cred: Colorodo State
Photo Cred: Colorodo State

These gases build up which results in, well, a belch. More than a belch, though, it is the process of regurgitating the food to re-chew it. Yumm, seconds! Animals chew their cud many hours a day, usually when the animal is resting. Ever heard of the phrase “I’m just ruminating (thinking)?” After breaking down the food even more by chewing the cud, the animal swallows and the food goes into the reticulum.


Separated from the rumen by a flap of tissue, this part of the stomach looks like a honeycomb and works like a water filter to catch foreign objects that cannot be digested. filterBecause it catches things like metal or nails, it is often called the hardware stomach. These objects can puncture the reticulum and make its way to the heart causing hardware disease. Hopefully the animal just doesn’t eat “junk” food.


After being sloshed around in the rumen and reticulum, it moves to the omasum. Here, a lot of the water is absorbed. This is a pretty big job, considering that the food that enters, is 90-95% water. The omasum is also called the butchers bible because it looks like it has a lot of pages.

Photo Cred: ABP
Photo Cred: ABP

These pages create more surface are a to absorb the water before heading into the final chamber.


Welcome to the true stomach! The part of the stomach is most like humans, where hydrochloric acid breaks down the rest of the food. There are chief cells on the walls of the abomasum that secrete mucous to protect it from acid damage.

After the abomasum, food travels through the intestines and ends up in little balls of poop (sorry for the graphic mental image).


That, my friends, is why cows and other animals chew their cud. They are ruminant animals. Ruminants don’t start chewing their cud until a few weeks or months after they are born. Young ruminants have an esophageal groove that shoots milk straight to the omasum and abomasum. They can get their nutrients in a hurry that way. When they do start chewing cud, I don’t recommend getting cud on you or being near their faces when they burp. It is really gross and stinky.