Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

RANCH MUSINGS: Sometimes there is a glimmer, even a great insight, into rural folk

I start this column with a plain language poem from a book of poetry by Louise Gluck

One of the great benefits of staying mostly at home these days is the opportunity to be reflective and dwell in the peace we can find nearby.

For me, it has been satisfying to read more. Actually, I don’t have the surplus energy to work or play hard so I slide into a better life balance.

I start this column with a plain language poem from a book of poetry by Louise Gluck, called Faithful and Virtuous Night. She is a Pulitzer Prize winning American poet.


Once there was a horse, and on the horse was a rider. How handsome

They looked in the autumn sunlight. Approaching a strange city! People

thronged the streets or called from high windows. Old women sat

among the flowerpots. But when you looked about for another horse or another rider, you looked in vain.

My friend, said the animal, why not abandon me? Alone, you can find your way here. But to abandon you, said the

other, would be to leave a part of myself behind, and how can I do that

when I do not know which part you are?

To me this little story represents the dilemma of rural urban division in modern society, at least in America.

Most farmers lament the feeling that urban dwellers and increasingly small town residents have lost the connection between nature and the city.

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The farmers and ranchers say that urban dwellers don’t know about what food providers do to take care of animals and plants when producing food. The horse and rider illustrate the connection, the oneness of human and other life.

More and more there is less country left in the boy (and girl). Remember the saying, “you can take the boy from the country, but you can’t take the country from the boy.”

Unfortunately, there is less country in people nowadays. Bemoan this if you want but at our peril we forget that these increasingly urbanized folk consume what we produce.

How do we explain that “the horse and rider” are a unit of co-operation—inseparable.

Fortunately, farm organizations are addressing this issue.

We require an intense dialogue to get the balance of our production of food with the sustainability of the place of production. Also, the impacts on the environment must be mitigated. Surplus Nitrogen and Phosphorous from manures and chemicals come to mind.

The care of animals is also a major concern for consumers.

Recently, the youngest grandchild (three years old), who really got into skiing was complaining about the clunky downhill ski boot which he dubbed “robot boots.”

“I am not a robot,” he said. “I don’t have a robot head, and don’t have a robot body, just robot boots.”

I trust he will understand that the horse and rider are one and that is a good metaphor for humans’ relationship to nature that sustains us.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

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