The sun was setting earlier in the day and temperatures had begun to fall as soon as the sun scrapped across the mountaintops to the west. Which meant it was time to install a heater in the water trough and change feeding patterns. The foreseeable future was winter and its chill.
Foreseeing the future can be difficult at times. Yet, there are always signs pointing to what’s coming. When you and I pay attention to such signs, we can make the transition to new conditions much easier. And, some pay attention while others do not, because of comfortable habits.
Habits can be great, but they can also be detrimental. Are you and I paying attention to our own habits and weighing them? Also, are we helping our significant others to ease their way through habit change when necessary?
Some people live their lives habitually without focusing on their changing environment. Cows tend to live in such a pattern.
I walked to the back of my field yesterday. There I saw my ever-faithful cows standing, waiting at their fall eating station. They set their clocks to be at the right location at the right time. They like to eat!
When I arrived, I opened the barn and removed some flakes of hay and walked past them to their winter-feeding station. They didn’t follow. They stood and watched. I picked up more flakes and walked right past them toward the winter-feeding station. They stood and watched. I picked up more flakes in the barn and looked behind me. They had begun to become agitated. They poked their heads through the barn door and stretched for sweet bits of alfalfa.
“They will surely follow me now!” I mumbled as I shut the barn door and walked past them again.
But they didn’t. They stood and waited. They didn’t eat. That’s when I knew I had to change my approach.
I walked back toward them so they could see me place a flake of hay on the ground. That got their attention. They began walking toward the hay with their watering mouths. As soon as they got close, I picked up the flake and walked a little further. I kept repeating this action four times until they got near the hay crib. Then I tossed the flake into the crib and they bucked their way forward. They ate there contentedly.
A contented life is a good life. Would my cows have found the hay on the crib after a while? Yes, but there was no need for them to live in agitation. And, there is no reason for you and I to live in agitation, either. The question is whether we can overcome our own habits so we can move confidently into the future. Perhaps it’s a skill we should all spend time developing?
My cows have also shown me that it’s a skill we need, and that we could help others realize it as well. In some cases, it will take some strategy, some coaxing to help those we love to see and respond to important signs of change.
We may need to show them that the sun is setting earlier in the day and the temperatures have begun to fall as soon as the sun scrapes the mountaintops to the west. All of that means it may be time to change some personal patterns so we can live contentedly in the future.
The foreseeable future may be the chill of winter. But it also portends the excitement and rebirth of spring.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.