The one that got away

Agriculture & Food, Being Human

There have been lots of coincidences, serendipity, and small-world moments during these last few weeks.

Exactly a week, almost to the hour, after the end of our experience chez Jimmy’s Farm, I was helping a farmer friend with a little challenge:

  1. There is a field with some cows in it.
  2. We have some hurdles.
  3. We need to make a pen.
  4. We need to herd the cows into the pen.
  5. We need to select the small bull from the herd, and put it into a trailer.

The small bull (let’s call him Randy) we needed was following around a big old cow called Rita, who was the most fertile of the herd. She also had a calf. So if we focus on getting the calf into the pen (which was easy enough to build), then Rita would follow, and Randy would follow Rita.

It worked a treat. We moved nice and slowly and let them take their time, stood in the right places to funnel them suitably, and then swooped quickly to pull the hurdles together, to close the opening we’d made to let them into the pen.

So there we all are. Rita, her calf, and Randy all in the pen together. Tidy job, plenty of time left to spare.

“Are these going to be OK without a pin [to hold the hurdles together]?” I asked the very experienced and successful farmer.

“No, that’ll be fine. Come and hold the gate here whilst I drive him out.” And since the hurdles are pretty heavy, and appeared to the eye to be closed, it seemed like a reasonable assertion.

I went to do the gate. Nameless Farmer started moving the cows towards the gate. Randy turns … and bolts out of the pen the way he’d come in, straight through the unpinned hurdles.

Alas I’m contractually prevented from telling you quite how similar this was to the events of a week before, but I just wanted to salve my indefatigably tiresome ego by telling this story of how the seasoned professionals make mistakes, too.

It’s also worth mentioning, again for the sake of my ego if nothing else, that things only become problems if you don’t have the nous – or have not allowed yourself sufficient time – to rectify them.  We simply had a longer-than-expected chat, repeated what we’d done before, rounded them up, got them in the pen, pinned it, put the bull in the trailer, and were home in time for dinner.

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons

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