Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Yoga of Feeding Cows

We arrive each day at the same time. They trust us.  

I’ve had days, weeks, even whole seasons where I fought the daily ritual of feeding cows in my mind. I know it needs done, but surely there are better things to do with my time. Feeding cows, the labor part, is monotonous, often difficult for a woman as she ages, and mostly just plain COLD.

I don’t have to do it. We could find someone else to help. I go because I want the exercise and know that hiring another person this time of year is a waste of money. So I keep my complaints to myself. It is a mind game, like much of life. To acknowledge and accept the difficulties of life and to feel joy anyway. That is feeding cows. It also, as it turns out, is yoga.

Callie is studying this ancient practice and is teaching me little by little. We talked about how yoga applies to the whole of life, including ranch work. We Americans think of it as a form of exercise. Get a mat, sign up for a class and “go to yoga.” But it really is a mindset. In its purest form it means "connection," a variation of the word “yoke.” This connection is with your higher self, with the universe, even with cows. Callie will say “my yoga” meaning “my lesson” or “my path.” It’s all about controlling the mind.

So on the feed ground one can practice yoga. With clear intent, flake the hay off without fighting the bale. Breathe in, breathe out. Bend your knees, use fluid movements and the leverage of your whole body. It might be windy, and hay leaves and straw chaff swirl down your neck and up your nose. Breathe in, breathe out. Stay calm.

There are other annoyances. Cows crowd around the truck and one or two will insist on walking right next to the bed so you can’t slide the hay off. Don’t get mad. They’re good at being cows – so accept that. If there’s snow, plan on getting stuck on a dyke from time to time. No worries. You can usually rock your way out with a little ingenuity. If not, a tractor and chain can be brought from ranch headquarters. 

I've been learning on my own too. In my research, one style of yoga is defined as “the cessation of the perturbations of the mind.” That’s a good one - to cease being perturbed. Love it.   

Callie and Anna and the '73 International

King Dancer Pose
 or in Sanskrit, Natarajasana 


  1. beautifully said, Wendy! I just got a book called 'Sanskrit is Fun" Maybe I should get you one too!
    I sure miss you all. So so so much. Thanks for sharing your yoga....Linda

  2. Guess what the girls will be doing when we go feed tomorrow!