How do you feel when you see other people?
We’ve been feeding cattle in a pasture not too far from our house. In years past, we’ve winter ranged, providing supplementation for cattle, but allowing them to forage during the winter months. This year, after drought and then high levels of snow early on in the year, we are feeding hay to our critters. It means extra time every day. It means planning around feeding time. But it also means that every day, the cattle are so glad to see us.
They start gathering before feeding time. They wait by the gate for us to pull through. They are getting plenty to eat–there’s usually a bit of leftovers in the field–they are just ready for the fresh food for the day. (There’s a balance in feeding–you don’t want too much leftover because it’ll be wasted, but you don’t want them hungry either. We calculate pounds of feed per day per animal.)
Cows will rub their backs on the truck as we are slowly rolling along forking off hay. We can even scratch their heads. Cattle aren’t necessarily wild, but they aren’t naturally domestic either. Our kids have 4-H steers and a heifer they work with regularly, so they are often like a dog on a leash. However, our range cattle, while not wild, aren’t usually the type to just walk up to you and let you scratch them. Feeding changes the dynamics a bit.
Do you remember as a kid the smell of the kitchen when a parent or grandparent made cookies? Maybe you still think about a favorite meal you had…usually you’ll remember who made it or who was with you when you ate it. Cattle tend to associate people the same way. They remember the food and it makes them more relaxed because they know you’re bringing them something good. The opposite is also true. Do you remember someone who always yelled? Maybe even at you? Cattle remember those types of situations too. They definitely act in accordance to their environment.
We too react, engage, or disengage based on the atmosphere. If you know someone doesn’t like you and you see that person, hopefully you’ll be cordial, but it’s not likely you’ll strike up a long conversation or make weekend plans together.
Watching our cattle’s joy at seeing us bringing them food made me think: What if I treated people that way? I know, it’d be weird to hand out food. I don’t mean that.
What if people knew I was happy to see them?
What if I showed genuine care?
Showing genuine care is a goal I’ve had for awhile, but sometimes time crunches and fatigue have gotten the better of me and I haven’t done it. Sometimes I feel self-conscious.
We humans are on a journey together. We are sharing experiences, be it through on-line connection or daily interactions. We have people we encounter that are easy to talk to and some people whom we have to work at conversation. Yet I truly am thankful for the people in my life.
I’m thankful for each and every one.
Since I am thankful, I’m going to work at showing you I’m happy to see you. I may not always get it right, but hopefully you’ll know that your life is important. You aren’t an accident. Someone sees you. Someone cares how your day is going.
The cows may not ruminate (bad pun!) on human interaction like I do, but we do have something in common: We are happy to see you!