New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Living in the Moment: Physically

Maybe there is no part of my life that more encourages me to live in the moment than raising livestock. I was not sure why this is but am thinking it involves several aspects. If I anticipate what happens with the newborn animals when they grow up, it can totally take the joy out of the moment. If I get carried away with how well something worked last time, I become less aware it has changed and is not the same this time.

Farm living is really about putting the physical to the moment. It is the same with pretty much any physical activity even as simple as canning food. It is about the moment or a person is apt to be tripped up. I think it involves every physical part of our lives and for a culture that often encourages people to be sidetracked by all kinds of diversions, not living in the moment can lead to physical danger. It's probably as dangerous to be daydreaming while driving as it is to be listening to a voice mail.

Farm work is just a good example on the need to focus on what is in front of us. I think it's why so many full-time ranchers and farmers are grounded in the earth. They aren't as prone (the ones I know) to go off on flights of fancy as if they do, the ground doesn't get plowed, the animals don't get their hooves trimmed or the hay doesn't get in. They can't live on the glory of last year's crop as this year the conditions are different and they have to look at it for what it is, not what it was. They can't be looking over their herd or grass abstractly and miss that something is wrong. Good animal husbandry and growing of any crop requires mindfulness.

Ranch work is about muscles moving through tasks sometimes by rote although you can't forget what you are doing as many jobs have the potential for danger. Maybe that helps a person stay in the moment. Watch that barbed wire you are stringing or it'll whip back and wrap you right up in it. The fence is straight or it's not. There's no room for grays to worry about.

The animals we raise appear to live this way. Something bad happens. It hurts. That's not good but when it's over, they get back to the business of eating. They are by necessity very grounded in earthly needs. Grass is that color. Grass tastes good to eat. I want that plant over there. They live in the moment with their instincts and don't need much planning ahead. We might need the planning ahead sometimes but, I think, the richest way of living is that most of our moments, we are right where we are-- fully.

The following photos might not be what everybody wants to see-- hence this warning. It's our little ewe with the injury, still an ugly abrasion, that Farm Boss is treating with pine tar, an age old treatment to protect patches of raw skin like hers and disinfect naturally. How she reacts to it is to stand stoically because she has no choice-- she's tied to the fence. Then when she is released, she gets right back to the leaves I broke off for her. We have no choice about keeping an eye on the wounds as if it infects again, we have to know right away. It's part of what we constantly try to do with the livestock and sometimes don't do enough of. It's not anticipating or getting upset but just being there-- fully.


4 comments:

Parapluie said...

Very good Rain, I don't remember if I was living in the moment when we had a few sheep. There were some activities that really put me physically in the moment - white water rafting, figure skating, making a pot on a wheel, drawing and painting from life, plein air painting, and water sports. In art sometimes being in the moment is difficult but the best results are from working in the moment.

20th Century Woman said...

I am more than 10 years older than you, Rain, and how right you are. I know how important living in the moment is as I reach toward the age that my aunt and my mother died. These moments are all I have, and I relish them.

mandt said...

These last two posts are particularly wonderful. You might enjoy "Dancing With Joy" edited by Roger Housden

Rain said...

there are no links here and no 3-D ... at least not that i know about