[Note from Tina—]
As you know, Mom and I kicked “writing the book” into high gear at the beginning of January. We’ve been building time-lines, collecting resources, writing schedules, and recording stories. One of the resources we had was a big envelope of letters Mom had written to our good friends Rich and Carolyn Hunt in Northern California between 1978 and 2005. Carolyn saved those letters and returned them to Mom for the express purpose of using them for the book! I finished typing them in last week, and they were full of great stories on their own as well as insights into other stories Mom will flesh out.
One item I found interesting, and a little sad, was this part from a letter Mom write September 5, 1989 when Dad was just breaking out of his first “retirement” and really getting into teaching large numbers of people. Mom write:
“One of the things they are having trouble with is the cattle don’t settle down and enjoy their new paddock. They either walk the fences or go over them. They don’t pick up their calves when they move the cattle to a new paddock, so they have to leave the gates open between several paddocks which pretty well negates the whole idea. I guess the coyotes have gotten smart to the fact that when they move the cows out, the calves are easy pickin’s.”
The sad part is, we hear these exact words from attendees of our schools today even though Dad’s teachings (which reached an astounding number of ranchers for thirty years) showed exactly how to stop each of these challenging situations.
Richard and I were talking today about how, sometimes, it does get depressing to think that maybe we are fighting a losing battle. Maybe no one is listening as we carefully try and explain how to “get their minds right” and various other keys to Proper Stockmanship (that Dad also carefully explained in his many schools).
But then we were reminded of the call we got a few days ago from a student who had received a new load of calves, and one wasn’t eating yet. We talked with him about proper driving and working with them all, and yesterday he messaged us a shot of all the calves peacefully eating at the bunk!
This reminded us of the story of the Starfish Thrower. I googled a little to try and get the proper wording and found the story has actually been told and re-told in many different ways from the original book described here. However, I liked the version below I found on this web page.
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.
— Adapted from ‘The Star Thrower’ by Loren C. Eiseley
I think this message fits in well as we come up to the 2019 Bud Summit, a gathering of “Budders,” subscribers to the stockmanship.com/subscription website, sharing the word about Bud Williams Proper Stockmanship (and Livestock Marketing).
Maybe, just maybe, there will come a day when every rancher will be able to drive his pairs to new paddocks and have them put their heads down and graze quietly. Until then, those of us teaching and sharing Dad’s methods will continue to throw the starfish and “make a difference to that one!”