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Across the fence: Tension

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattle Published on 22 May 2020

Last spring we had an unusual amount of rain, for Montana anyway. I personally loved it. It was so good for our fields, and it really took some pressure off of irrigating.

There was also an abundance of mud and puddles. A significant part of our summer pasture was river bottom. Thus, we moved cows inland as the water kept coming. We also had to fix fence. Our son is ordinarily horseback, but in the spring when the horses are shedding, his allergies get the better of him. Therefore, he was on his Yamaha motorbike.

At one spot, my hubby went through the brush on his horse, while our son stayed near the road. The road was underwater, but had a gravel base, so he zipped his bike forward. There was more mud than gravel, and before he knew it, his motorbike was stuck. Like a boot sucked away in an aggressive mud hole, his tires sank.

Being a young teen, he did not give up. He pushed; he pulled. Nothing.

My hubby came to give him a hand. Nothing.

Finally a tow strap was used and out came the bike.

Our son kept saying, “I really thought I could make it.” We thought so too! No one was mad; it was just an unforeseen circumstance.

It seems we’ve had a lot of those lately. On a personal level, yes. Yet, also on a community, state and even world stage; we’ve seen a lot of surprises.

Certainly, we’ve seen ups and downs. Who knows where the cattle market will be by the time you read this.

Hopefully, we’ve also seen the power of community, despite social distancing. When challenges arise, we adjust and come up with solutions.

We also keep dreaming.

During this corona quarantine, it has been interesting to hear so many perspectives. One thing is certain though: We all want to see the end to coronavirus.

What we want doesn’t always happen when we want it.

I’ve told this to my kids multiple times, especially when they were little. As little people, it is harder to understand when my want doesn’t line up with circumstances:

You cannot ride your horse in the middle of a blizzard.

The kittens do not want to live in your closet.

Fish do not like to be tickled.

As adults, it may be easier to understand, but there is still obvious tension between what we want and current reality.

A want represents a dream, a hope, a longing – something we really desire. A want also signifies that there is a lack. Either something stands in the way of that want or there are steps to take to make the want a reality.

Something is unfulfilled while a longing exists. This is the tension of a want. There will always be tension in life, but we must identify which things we want to pursue and which ones aren’t worth it to us.

I want a new truck, but I do not want the price tag.

I want my herd to grow, so I need to buy cattle and make a long-term plan based on my budget.

I want to sleep, so I need to stop my brain from solving all the problems of the world.

Some things are out of our control, so our wants may live in limbo as we can only control our reaction to situations. However, the big part of this is recognizing we are OK to live in the tension.

Maybe you’re not type A like me, and living in tension is easy for you. That’s awesome. For those of us who like to fix and solve, living in tension is like having hives and not being able to scratch.

Lately, I’ve been learning a lot.

I’ve also tried a plethora of coping mechanisms.

Nothing changes the tension except doing the best we can to achieve goals and relinquishing control of the things that aren’t up to us.

It may also help us to again revisit the why question: Why am I doing what I do?

We are involved in agriculture because our hearts are drawn to animals and land stewardship. We want to see conditions improve on land. It is exciting to see animals thrive. We want the industry as a whole to flourish.

The next question then becomes: What am I willing to risk to get there?

Risk is a hairy topic because it might mean a small step to one person and a huge step to another. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. It simply becomes a question of what we, as individuals, are willing to do to make our goals happen.

Whatever that process looks like, we can be guaranteed some tension. May it be the kind of tension that holds us in check as we work toward goals!  end mark

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