After spending most of my life working with and trying to understand animals, I’ve spent the last 20 years working with and trying to teach people. I now realize that working animals is as much about life as it is about getting a job done. In order to work animals we must tell them what we want them to do. The better we communicate what we want, the better the animals work for us. This is also true with people; the better we communicate what we want, the better people respond. The more personal the communication is, the better it is. As the years go by, we use technology more and more and personal contact less and less. People really need a certain amount of proper personal contact, but we are willing to give that up in order to feel we are doing it faster. It is my opinion that this is not good for people. I know that it isn’t good for animals.
When we get close enough to animals that they start to respond to our presence, then every move we make is telling them something. With our movements we are talking to them. If we want a good result, then we must tell them the right thing. That means talking in a language that they understand. Also, all this time their movements are talking to and telling us what they want and what they think we are saying. It doesn’t matter what we think we are saying to them, it only matters what they think we are saying or what we are telling them to do. If we want a good result, it is important we spend enough time around the animals that we learn to understand what they are saying. Also that we move in such a way that they understand what we are telling them.
There was a time when people would get together and talk. This was good for everyone. Things could be talked about until things were understood. Now almost everything is done with telephone or e-mail. I know how this effects me, and it isn’t good. Trying to discuss something with e-mail is very confusing to me. And most of the time I just stop it right there and don’t even try to fix things, as they quite often just get worse. Trying to explain something that was not understood at first is very difficult or impossible with e-mail or a telephone. With personal contact it is easy to explain or quickly know that nothing will work. More and more we are getting away from personal contact and using things that keep a distance between us.
When we do this with animals it does not work very well. In 1973 we had over 130 million head of cattle. Now we have about 100 million head. Today we have a lot of very good vaccines, many new and very good drugs, yet we have more health problems than ever before. The reason this is happening is because we get farther away from proper human contact. When we spend our time around our livestock on equipment or try to work them with movements they do not understand, then they respond just like I do with e-mail or a telephone. Yes, we could learn to accept these new things. Some do, lots do not. That is why there are so many problems now. It should be and is our job to teach our animals how to accept any new thing they must face.
When I was young we talked to adults and liked to be around them. They told stories about the past and showed us how to do things better. Now young people have radios, portable music, cell-phones, computers, and television. They don’t want to talk to or even be around older people. These new things are great, but they are creating a distance between people that is not good. With e-mail, young people will communicate with someone they don’t know or know anything about, yet they do not want to speak with an older person that is right beside them. Years ago people on airplanes would talk to each other. Sometimes, on a long flight, people behind, in front, across the aisle or any one else that was interested would talk and be involved in the conversation. Now the person seated next to you doesn’t even want to say hello.
When I was young we got up early, milked the cows, fed the calves, pigs, horses, chickens, and did the other chores that needed to be done. Only when all the chores were done would we eat. The same was done at night. When all of the animals were taken care of, then we ate. We enjoyed our animals and liked to spend time with them. Everything was done by hand, so we were right on the ground and right with them. This was done 7 days a week, not just if we could find the time. Today, most of the work is done with tractors and other machines, things that keep us from having personal contact with the animals. Now people are always in a hurry, almost everything is more important than the animals. Because of this, there are many problems and most of them are caused by lack of proper human contact. Proper human contact means using a language they understand when we work them or even when we are just around them. They don’t realize that we are in a hurry, they just know we are not using the right language. Then they get confused just like I do with the e-mail that I do not understand. When the animal is emotionally upset is when bad things start to happen. It may be hard to work or it may try to get away or it may just get sick in a few days or maybe it will just not perform as well. Remember, it is wise to talk to our animals and use the right language when we do.
Talk, not tech. Then we can all Smile and Mean it.