Sunday, September 19, 2010
Living in the Moment: Physically
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.