Rural Life Lesson #246:Gates

There’s an old joke (It’s possible it’s a riddle or a something else.). It goes something like this:

Three guys are riding along in a pickup truck. How do you know who is the wisest ranch hand?

The one in the middle. Because he doesn’t have to drive and he doesn’t have to jump in and out to open the gates.

I don’t actually live on a ranch, but I have spent enough time around horse farms and barns to be able to say, with great certainty, that good fences make good horses. We have had a failure of a couple of our fences here at our place and so our horses currently have the run of the place including right up to the gate to exit the property. Aside from the fact that they get into all kinds of things that they shouldn’t (that used to be safely on the other side of a fence and THANK GOD THEY DON’T HAVE HANDS), they can sometimes make it hard to leave or enter without risking an escape attempt. They aren’t especially trying to leave. It’s just that the grass is greener where you haven’t eaten it yet and, sometimes, given an opportunity in the form of an open gate, they will walk through it looking for greener pastures, or whatever beckons on the other side.

One of my chief symptoms of my ADD is that I am particularly challenged by transitions. I am strongly bound by Newton’s Laws of Inertia. What I mean is that first, it’s hard for me to get started on a task or project. (an object at rest, no?)

Then, once I get going it’s often hard for me to stop or leave off. (an object in motion, see?)

It’s also really hard for me to smoothly switch directions or roles quickly. I require an adjustment period to get my mind’s compass reoriented. (This is still in the category of ‘an object in motion’, but has more to do with the part about being ‘acted upon by another force’, I think. You can imagine my brain as a large truck. Slow to start off, takes a longer distance to stop, and needs a large turning radius.)

The things I’ve learned with the horses and their gates and with my own gateways and transitions are these:

1. Recognise that they are a barrier that you are going to have to deal with. Understanding that it is an issue for you goes a long way toward mitigating the effects of the problem. In school, I learned that I needed to arrive at my classes at least 15 minutes early in order to have time to get mentally prepared to think about the class and the topic at hand. If I did not have that time, the first few minutes of class were not very useful because my mind will take the time it needs regardless. It’s just better to give it the time beforehand. With regard to the gates here on the property, remembering to leave a couple (or a few) minutes early so that we can negotiate our exit strategically is a sound plan and one that keeps us from freaking out from having to hurry and having things go wrong (as they inevitably will) doesn’t ruin our plans nearly as often.

2. Be prepared for trickery. Often we are able to just drive down to the gate, open it, and leave with very little hassle. Sometimes, the horses are less helpful and we need to do something to get them to back off from the gate. Usually this is just a little bit of hay or grain offered a fair distance away from the gate so that they are busy for a few minutes while we make our getaway.  Do what you need to do to make things easier for yourself. Set timers a few minutes before you need to end a task so it doesn’t come as as much of a shock. Make sure other people know that they should  give you a heads up and or a count down a few minutes early. My son knows that if he comes up and interrupts me to get me to do something, he will be met with resistance. But if he says, can we do such-and-such at x time? he will get a much better response. (Unfortunately we’ve had to figure this out through trial and error. Learn from me, people!)

3. Try not to do it by yourself. It’s infinitely harder to get through the gate smoothly by yourself. It’s a lot of moving parts and variables to works by yourself. It can lead to a lot more frustration and running around. The best case scenario is to have systems in place that eliminate much of the stress of the transition. Ideally, with physical gates, you have two gates with enough room to park between them so that you can pull in, shut the gate behind you, then open the gate in front of you to allow your egress without much bother. More ideally, you have people working those gates for you so you don’t have to clamber in and out and around to complete all of the steps.

Less ideally, you only have one gate, but you have a person or two to open and close it for you so that it’s smoother, easier, and there’s less chance of things going awry. The truth is that sometimes things are just going to fall into the worst case scenario and all the systems in the world can’t help that. Then you need a plan. What to do if the horses aren’t occupied elsewhere. Which way to open the gate for best outcome. (Up (for us, here), if you’re interested.) How to have timed your arrivals and/or departures to have help around.

For your mental maneuverings, the same applies. Try very hard to have systems with timers and calendars in place. Make sure people know to allow to time to get through the gate, to remind you of upcoming stops or starts.

In the worst case scenario, remember that with a little patience, and maybe a little trickery, you will, no doubt, get through to the other side.

This Habitat=For Humanity

Dear small animals,

I respect your right to exist. I think that you are precious little furry, scaly, slimy beings whose habitats should be protected and who should be free to roam and frolic in the trees, bushes, rocks, what-have-you.

But this habitat. is. for. humans. go back outside!

I’m talking to you Mr. Lizard who came to visit yesterday. and again today(or your friend).

and you, Mouse Family.

Please respect my habitat boundaries and I will respect yours.

Until then it is the new outdoor kitties’ habitat,too.

Sorry about that.

The Rabbit Died

I am not actually opposed to hunting. (Unless it is purely for sport)

I’m not a vegetarian.

I feel that there is a certain price we pay for taking a life. Of any kind. So, to me, if you are going to be a meat eater, it is more authentic to kill it yourself and pay the price yourself, then it is to transfer the cost to someone else and get your non-animal shaped meat packages delivered to you.

I think it’s very easy in this society to be completely removed from our food sources. I think many people are able to disconnect the hamburger in the store or in the restaurant from the cow in the field.

Having said that, I don’t follow my own code. I am not going to kill my own meat to eat. I get upset when birds, mice, squirrels, dart out to hit my car when I’m driving. By my own code I should, therefore, not eat meat. I do, at least, try to be mindful of it.

I married a mountain man, a warrior, a hunter. A man who can and has lived off the land completely. These days he may physically not be the mountain man he once was, but mentally he hasn’t changed much from the young man roaming the mountains of Wyoming.

So I struggle with how much hunting stuff my son gets to do. I’m sure that my husband thinks I’m just a big buzzkill on this issue. But if were only up to me, my innocent little boy could go his entire life without ever having hunted. Obviously, it is not only up to me. So things go too fast for me and too slow for them and we muddle in the middle where most of life happens.

This week we passed a milestone on our hunting journey. The Dudeling shot his first rabbit. He is so proud and I am proud for him. I am also sad. Because the rabbit died. And he’s the one who killed it.

On his path to becoming a man. He has provided food for the family table now. Because we eat what we kill. If it’s big enough to eat. So Daddy helped him dress it so we can cook him up. Speaking of which….any good rabbit recipes out there?

The MouseCapades!

I live out here in the country and one thing that we continually have to deal with is keeping the mice at bay. Since losing our cats and then our dog (who also liked to chase and catch things), it has been a struggle to keep ahead of the problem.

Recently we’ve had a couple particularly odd mouse capers though.

The mice got into the noodles in the cabinet. They were just in the thin plastic bags that they come in, so we thought that we’d move them into thicker plastic storage containers to protect them until the mice were caught.

It’s possible this did not work out as well as planned.

But, they were just checking. We know this because while we found pieces of blue plastic inside the container,

there was no poop and no mouse. They would very likely not have been able to get back out had they gone in.


The other odd thing was that a mouse managed to touch a live wire in an outlet where the TV is plugged in. This resulted in his not only electrocuting himself , but also the DVR on that TV.

I did not take pictures of that.

You’re welcome 🙂