Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeNotes From KathyHow to Use the Most Important Tool A Grazier Has

How to Use the Most Important Tool A Grazier Has

We all have one, and oddly, it doesn’t come with instructions. But when given the proper care, it can be the solution to every problem we encounter as a grazier.

Yes, it’s your brain. And, now with the hustle and bustle of the growing season behind us, we have more time to put it to work on some of the harder challenges we might face.

Thinking really is hard!

In this week’s article collection I note that the take half and leave half rule of thumb was probably created because extension folks know how we operate. We don’t like to think too much because it’s hard. That’s not a slam. That’s just a physical fact.

At 2% of your body weight, your brain accounts for 20% of your energy use – between 250 and 350 calories a day. Difficult cognitive tasks can boost that by about 5%. While that’s not enough to “think yourself thin,” it is significant to the brain itself which is focused on everything it has to do to keep your heart beating, your blood pumping, and your body functioning properly. When we ask it to do more, the brain is like any other body part. It communicates “tiredness.” Though researchers don’t yet understand why, Claude Messier of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Ottawa has a theory: “My general hypothesis is that the brain is a lazy bum,” he says. “The brain has a hard time staying focused on just one thing for too long. It’s possible that sustained concentration creates some changes in the brain that promote avoidance of that state. It could be like a timer that says, ‘Okay you’re done now.’ Maybe the brain just doesn’t like to work so hard for so long.”

You Can Train Your Brain

Just like athletes train for physical activity, we can train our brains. Brain teasers, learning something new, activities like dancing or playing a musical instrument, socializing, and even physical exercise are all ways to boost your mental capabilities.

But if you want to be able to solve the problems you encounter as a grazier, you have to go further. You have to feed your brain.

You feed your brain by giving it more data and information to work with:

• Workshops, conferences, and belonging to grazing groups are all great ways to give your brain data and new ideas to work with.

• Spend time learning the science and basic principles that govern the grasses, soil, water, and livestock that you manage. With those basics, you have the background you need to turn your observations into solutions that work for your operation specifically.

Is it hard?

No more so than many things you do every day. But, as in all things in life, a little training now will make everything easier down the road.

Does it take time?

Yes. But as my Dad said, “You can never go wrong investing in yourself.”

Is it Expensive?

Sometimes it’s free, like On Pasture. Other times there’s some tuition involved and that can be money or experience. But the alternative, not thinking and doing the same thing over and over expecting different results…well that’s just insanity. 🙂

I’ll give you some more techniques I’ve used in upcoming issues. But until then, here’s to a thoughtful winter.

Thanks for reading!


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Kathy Voth
Kathy Vothhttps://onpasture.com
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


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