Monday, August 1, 2022

Amor Fati

Long, busy day today.

I decided to move cows into an adjacent pasture this morning as we won't be taking them south until this weekend. There's abundant grass in the new pasture and it's closer to the corrals which will make moving them a bit easier for all concerned, especially the cattle.

Red got to try helping.

An unscripted primer on moving cows through a gate.

There was more. Much more. It was hot and muggy and buggy. I'm pooped!

Therefore I've dredged up a blast from the past, which appears below.


The love of fate.


Our corporeal existence on this plane -- this thing we know as life -- is extremely limited in duration. As far as any of us can tell for certain, this short life is all we get. Maybe there's more after and even before, but we can't know this for sure. It's a matter of faith. In that light it seems unwise to squander the precious gift we've been given.

The Stoics talked about a fleeting life and the importance of cherishing all of it, the importance of not wasting priceless time on morbid self reflection or anger or greed or feeling sorry for oneself. The Jedi mind trick they used was the notion of Amor Fati, or the love of fate. The idea is to love your life so much that you love all of it, even the slings and arrows of outrageous fate. Perhaps especially those slings and arrows, for they provide context and perspective. Could I actually love life's most beautiful and precious moments if never experienced their antithesis? I don't think I could.

So, how do you love fate?

I wrote this back in June of 2012.

Last week we talked about calculated risks and the potential injuries farmers and ranchers face when executing those risks.

But talking about risk without mentioning reward kind of skews the issue. I skirted around it last week – saving time and money are part of the reward farmers and ranchers receive when their calculated risks pay off.

But there are other rewards, too. Most folks in this country work directly for employers. We don’t. We set our own course. We are the epitome of the sovereign citizen. No one tells us when or how to do our work. We do our own quality control. In many ways, we are the freest of the free. And that’s a reward that only comes from daring to take calculated risks.

So there’s a big paradox. To be the freest of the free you have to risk it all – or at least a great portion of it. And if your risk doesn’t work out, even if you’ve done your best to manage it, even if you've done everything right, you can find yourself among the ranks of the former farmers and ranchers.

Risk and reward go hand in hand.

A top-of-the-head definition of risk might be ‘the potential for unintended foreseeable and non-foreseeable consequences to occur during the course of a particular action or inaction.

A similar definition for reward – so far as farmers and ranchers go – might be ‘the realization of great freedom and independence which comes only from having successfully executed equally great risks.

Hard work, solid planning and perseverance usually allow farmers and ranchers to survive unanticipated negative outcomes or events. But not always. Nature doesn’t deal in our conception of fairness. Successful farmers and ranchers understand this. Perhaps it’s why my Grandpa said “endure the bad years and enjoy the good years.”

I’ve been building fence around a quarter-section that recently came out of CRP. The quarter is adjacent to two sections which are already fenced, so I’ve really only been fencing the south and west sides.

The other day I marked and drilled post holes along the south side and started tamping in posts. But near the east end of the fence line I got lazy and about a dozen of the post holes were off line. Only by about six inches, but it’s a property boundary, so the fence line needs to be straight and precise.

I initially decided to dig out the sides of the post holes with the old “Armstrong” post hole digger, but the dry soil was a lot tougher to dig than I expected, so I only repaired one hole the old-fashioned way. It was a lot of work. I used the skid-steer and auger to refine the other errant post holes.

I had thirty or forty posts tamped in when quitin’ time rolled around, so I called it a day and headed for the house, leaving the one hand-dug and tamped post isolated, a few hundred yards away from the others, like a soldier standing guard.

Sometime after midnight the wind shifted around to the south, wafting the scent of our cow herd, now congregated on summer pasture, toward our herd bulls, isolated in a pasture four miles away. They were behind a stout four-wire fence, as were the cows. There were two other stout fences in between, as well as my partially-completed fencing project.

But a four-wire fence won’t hold a bull that wants to go visiting. None of the four fences seemed to slow them down a whit. In the morning they were with the cows, 11 days early. Not a major problem. But there will be some early calves next spring.

During their nighttime journey south, the bulls paused along my growing fence line and milled around long enough to fill several open post holes. And they found my isolated fence post irresistible for rubbing. After all the effort I expended setting that post, they casually snapped it off right at ground level.

Experiences like these tend to keep a person centered. There’s a whole big universe out there, and it’s not really concerned about your plans.

As Stephen Crane put it:

A man said to the universe:
“Sir I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

We work with the bountiful tools nature provides. We also work with the roadblocks and setbacks she provides.


Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.



  1. Red looks content to fill an officer role. Sit there, look smart, bark occasional orders telling you to do what you were going to do anyway, and watch what happens. And take credit for good results.

    You ever going to fix that windshield, or is that another one busted?

    Was the herding video done handheld, or with camera on a head mount of some sort?
    First time I have ever seen forceps hanging from a mirror- for removing splinters/thorns?

    Another fine day!
    John Blackshoe

    1. Red is the brains of the outfit.
      I'm strongly leaning toward never fixing the windshield. Unless it fails. Someone once asked me how I can see with the cracks in the way. "I don't look at the cracks," I said, "I look through the glass at what's outside." I know. Believe me, I know.
      Handheld all the way, which isn't exactly professional. As for the forceps, sometimes it's just the right tool. Small and light enough to hang out of the way but always be handy.
      It was a fine day.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting John!