It's that time of year when meteorology seems to become more of a mythical ideal than an actual, applicable part of daily life. Going to bed often feels like rolling the dice and covering your eyes to see what you've rolled come morning. Maybe sunny and 75, maybe snow.
A foundational aspect of agriculture, no matter what sector you find yourself within, is the idea of existing at the mercy of the weather. There is a veritable house of cards in any daily schedule that is one rainstorm away from tumbling down. The part of me that struggles to control the uncontrollables finds this to be a hard pill to swallow.
Being *somewhat* of a perfectionist, I tend towards being more of the shaking my fist at the sky than dancing in the rain type. Such was the case when I woke up recently to the first snowfall of the season. Not so much the dreamy, fluffy, fat flakes that I relish in deep winter. More of the half rain, half sleet, all miserable sort of storm that is accompanied by the sort of phone call where there are more animals out of pastures than there are in.
On the phone with Corinne, I was beginning my fist shaking. Lamenting just how put out I was by nature ruining my carefully laid plans and the plans of those with hay and grain still to be put up, or stacks still to cover. She stopped me instantly, pausing a moment before saying something like this:
Mother nature provides all things for us. Nature does not ruin our plans. We feel this way when our systems are not resilient enough to exist with nature in harmony.
It took me aback for a moment. So stuck in my commitment to complaining and so far from the bottom of my first cup of coffee was I - I had not realized just how irrelevant my annoyance was in the right frame.
The way that the ranch operates is not "normal". It is not commercialized. To the outside eye, there are aspects of our workflow that may seem disorganized, casual, and perhaps even negligent.
The truth, in the sense of the word that all things we hold independently are our own truths, is that we refuse to operate in any pattern that necessitates fighting nature. Or fighting animals. Or fighting the uncontrollables.
If the pigs refuse to be rounded up? We'll go weed some flower beds and try again tomorrow. Enjoying the sight of them playing in the horse pasture or curiously inspecting the livestock dog accommodations.
If an employee isn't feeling well? We'll rework the day to send them home to rest. There is an endless list of things to be done. There is NOT an endless reserve within the body.
If snow falls early, and the winter paddocks aren't ready and the hotwire is compromised by heavy, wet precipitation? We will do our best to contain animals, do what we can, and smile and laugh at best-laid plans.
The animals, bred to be resilient and strong, are unbothered by the snow.
The pastures, healthy and thick, are still lush and ready to eat beneath the dusting of snow and ice. We will not need hay for some time yet.
Nature knows nothing of my list. It does work to spite or please me. It is a law unto its own, unconcerned with the efforts of the relative specks that we are to fight it. It will bless me where I work alongside it, and it will take away from me the same.
Farming, in the long-lens, is a lot like life. None of us can know what awaits us each morning. There are storms, illnesses, accidents, and trials we cannot predict. Fighting it is futile. Acceptance of the flow is everything. I will lay plans, and life will undo them despite me.
For now, the sleet is still falling, and the sheep are out again. I'll turn up my jacket collar and grab a grain bucket. I'll laugh at their capers as they wander the ranch. My to-do list isn't any shorter, and my deadlines are still very real.
BUT - all in nature's time. I will change my plans. I will wait for the clouds to clear. I will keep accepting the lessons as they come. And when I can't, suppose I'll call Corinne.
Staying warm out there,