Making every day count
It seems to be a phenomenon as you get older: the acceleration of time. When you are 9 years old and are granted an extra hour past your bedtime, it’s as if you got a week. After school is out in June, the summer off stretches like the Serengeti in its endless horizons. Now, decades later, an hour goes by in five minutes, and three months would barely be enough time to get caught up on sleep, and maybe one project out of the five on your Big List. The time warp that comes with having too many things to do in not enough time is real, and also a product of our increased responsibilities and the age we live in, where demands come from all directions, and we end up staring at a 3”x 4” device in our hand to escape it all (which of course, only makes the loss of time more acute). The key, it seems, is staying present.
This weekend went by much too quickly, as they tend to do. I spent all day Saturday at the Cattleman’s Winterschool and Country Living Expo, a regional event for those of us farm-minded. What seems like hundreds of classes are offered, everything from “Introduction to Turkeys” and “Repairing Small Engines” to “Beginning Pork: Raising Pastured Pigs,” “Sheep Necropsy,” and “Chainsaws for Women,” and you get to pick 5 (one hour each, plus lunch). I’ve been to this several times, though it’s been a couple years since I’ve gone. The last time I went it turned out to be a frustrating waste of time; the event has grown exponentially, and the growing pains being that some classes offered really aren’t suitable for a one hour session, others where the volunteer instructor doesn’t really know how to stay on track with time. Two years ago 3 out of 5 classes were a complete waste of time (one had a substitute instructor that didn’t have any agenda; another was barely into the first page of the multi-page handout at 45 minutes in…). I was so aggravated at the waste of time and money that I swore I wouldn’t go back. I skipped last year, and heard about several very good classes that I missed. So I decided to try again this year. I was a little smarter about my choices. Instead of just choosing topics that interested me, of which there are many, I also quantified it by asking myself “can this topic be adequately covered in one hour?” There are several two session classes, more this year than ever, so there is the realization that not every topic can be covered in 60 minutes. This year I only had one class that didn’t work. Instead of toughing it out and getting frustrated, I left and changed to another class I was also interested in (this was over the lunch periods, so was doable), which I was much happier about. Even so, the second class was a bit of a hash as the dual instructors, who were both extremely knowledgeable on their topic, didn’t have any kind of linear agenda, and were also blown off course quickly by the myriad questions. So many questions in fact that it ended up almost as if there were two classes being taught side by side. They came back together in the end, and the information was such that I didn’t expect much (i.e., I knew this would only be a ‘dip your toe in’ sort of class, not any real learning), and felt satisfied at the end.
One of this year’s highlights was the two-session talk by Temple Grandin, well known in the animal community for her groundbreaking information on humane handling (especially livestock, but all species, including dogs). She was humorous and passionate, and though most of the information I already knew from reading her books, it was delightful to see her in person. The last two classes of the day were the best, and mostly because of the instructor, who not only knew his stuff, but was a natural instructor. He had excellent information that was clearly presented, and with a relaxed, easy manner (even with humor! Always a plus); and even with lots of questions he was able to stay on track. It seemed he crammed much more into his one hour than any of the other instructors were able to. It was a good lesson even beyond the information being presented. All in all it was a good day, if long. I was able to hook up with people I knew—the plus of doing this for several years now is that I’m meeting and getting to know more and more in the sheep community. One gal there this weekend was a name I’d heard over and over and over (and who actually lives quite close to me), and when I saw her I went and introduced myself. It was nice to finally say hello, put a face to the name, and make one more connection in the ever widening community of shepherds.
I was, by some miracle, able to make it home in time to get to the feed store (only 10 minutes to spare!) thus saving a trip out today. So, after a lazy morning catching up on some sleep and book reading, I went outside and did some garage cleaning/unloaded the hay and straw I bought last night, cleaned and freshened the bedding in the sheep shed, and cleaned and filled feeders and waterers for the sheep and chickens, and added some enrichment treats to all as well.
As the weekend winds up (I still have about two hours of work I brought home from the office that I need to get to), it feels productive and full, and like maybe it didn’t go by as quickly as some others, where I didn’t get as much done. A good weekend, with just the right balance of stuff and nothing, and a good reminder to make it count.