Things Learned About Animals: Lesson 1

MumbleAs a teenager, I worked on a dairy farm in Morrill, Maine, and later as a hired hand on a sheep ranch in Bluebell, Utah.  Often growing up, my family had chickens, ducks, geese, goats, pigs, cats, and dogs.  There are several lessons I feel we could learn from the animals.  In discussing the animals, you are left to choose whether the lesson applies to you or not.  I am not here to convince anyone, I merely relate what I have observed and the lessons I learned.  If you can use the lesson to improve your life, I have achieved my goal.  If you choose not to like the lesson for any reason, happily know you are not the audience intended, and move on smartly.

Animal Gender

Let me be perfectly clear, gender is an eternal construct, is established in the first building blocks of a body, and cannot be changed.  Consider for a moment with me the steps in the gestation process of any animal.  The egg is fertilized, and the fertilization process is self-explanatory, needing no additional discussion from me.  After the egg is fertilized by sperm from a male, the egg from the female becomes a zygote.  This clump of cells shortly gender is known, and the biological differences between a male and a female begin.Egg fertilization and development | Download Scientific Diagram

Males develop larger lungs, denser bones, and other chemical and biological differences.  Females develop smaller lung capacity, less dense bones, and other chemical and biological differences.  We had a female goat who liked to mount other female goats.  While this was highly uncomfortable for the mounted female goat and generally produced fights between the females, we never worried about the goats becoming pregnant.  Interestingly, after this female goat had been impregnated, this female stopped mounting other female goats and was a great mother of kids.  Not speaking goat, I never understood why she mounted other females in what could have been considered her teenage years; one thing was sure, gender did not change because the goat was confused.

It never ceased to amaze me that one could reliably tell the males from the females almost immediately from birth.  Due to their birth size, their growth, and their respective attitudes.  In observing a group of kittens, the males would dominate the females for momma’s attention, the best places to nurse, and innately knew they were male.  The females were smaller, leaner, and sometimes just as feisty and stubborn as the males; they knew they were different from the males.

Baby Cows and CalvesLater while tending sheep, another interesting lesson was learned regarding gender.  Ewes, female sheep, who had lost their lambs, knew somehow if a misgendered animal was placed before them and drove that animal away.  That ewe knew she had birthed a male or female lamb, and any orphan trying to feed would not do; only orphans of the same gender, wearing the skins of their original lamb, were allowed to become a stepchild and be accepted if the ewe permitted them.

Another lesson learned watching a shepherd was the decisions of the ewes.  I saw ewes stand next to a stillborn lamb until the shepherd collected that lamb for disposal.  Crying, mourning, and sometimes choosing to end their life by not eating instead of adopting a motherless lamb.  I am not anthropomorphizing an animal here, that mother losing her lamb cried, mourned, and entered a depression where the ewe chose to join her lamb in death, and regrettably it did not happen only once or twice.  I do not know if the same happens for goats, cows, or other animals.  I know it happens for mother cats and sheep as I have observed these animals and witnessed this event for myself.Cotswold Sheep. Bottle feeding orphan lambs, by Tim Macmillan | Sheep, Animals, Lamb

On the topic of orphaned lambs, I noticed something important, lambs with mothers, even adopted mothers, were less daring, got into less hazardous situations, and generally were calmer socially.  Orphan lambs were wild, got into trouble, did not come to eat without insistence, and several times did not learn from past mistakes, injured, and sometimes died.  I do not know why orphaned lambs acted this way, and without anthropomorphizing, an animal cannot dictate well what I sense is the answer.  I know for certain that ewes impart information to lambs, which is an essential aspect of the health and safety of the herd.

A mother goat, sheep, horse, cat, etc., knows their children, numbers their children, and looks after them.  I witnessed a mother goat kicking the head of a kid who belonged to another goat but who was hungry and wanted food.  Driving that kid off to find their mother relentlessly, and learned something of note.  At first, I thought this was just an ornery goat thing, but then I saw a horse, a mother pig, a mother cat, and other animal mothers repeat the lesson learned about mothers knowing and numbering their children.  A rare mother indeed will accept an animal orphan, and there is order in the animal kingdom!

Order in the Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species - Várias ClassesConsider with me a process all herd managers perform, the castration process.  A bull castrated does not grow the female reproductive organs and becomes a cow.  A castrated lamb does not change gender after castration; even if that lamb is provided hormones from female animals, that lamb is male.  A neutered cat does not regrow new reproductive organs or change genders; from birth to death, the gender of that animal is cast, they do not change, and their instincts remain embedded in that animal.

Order is created and not disordered merely due to the loss of a few reproductive organs.  Mothers choose to allow orphans to replace their children or become their children.  Some animal fathers are part of their children’s lives; others grow merely with the input of their mothers.  Regardless, great order is found and maintained in the animal kingdom over roles assigned by gender at birth.

Allow me to elaborate with some observations.  A ewe whom the shepherd relied upon to adopt lambs refused to adopt a lamb.  The shepherd tried everything, including rubbing the lamb in the still wet lamb’s skin, skinning the dead lamb and securing the dead lamb’s skin on the orphaned lamb, and even placing the mother into a pen with her head secured to give the lamb a chance to suckle.  Nothing worked, and all of the methods had worked previously.  Several days later, the ewe died unexpectedly, and the veterinarian determined that the mother ewe had had a disease and probably sensed this when refusing that orphan to suckle.  Order is maintained in the herd, and the condition this ewe had contracted was not passed along to a new lamb.Sheep herd is walking. Animals on grassland. Good conditions for breeding livestock. Pasture in ...

Our gander had taken a spouse, and when the goose died sitting on a nest, the gander was exceedingly heartbroken—calling day and night for his spouse, all to no avail.  After a time, the gander took to liking the ducks whose drake had flown the coop unexpectedly.  Seeing as there was no drake and no female goose, the gander took to mourning his spouse but sleeping with the female ducks.  But, the gander was violently opposed to any duck sitting on a nest, and my parents could not understand why.  My parents captured some eggs that had not been smashed to pieces and tried to incubate the eggs.  The animals born were not ducks or geese, and none survived long.  There is order maintained in the animal kingdom, and the animals themselves know how to keep that order.

It never ceases to amaze me the order and respect animals have for order in the animal kingdom.  In raising goats and cows, the information gained through smell was always interesting to me that allowed animals to act how and why they did.  I could not smell the difference between herds, but the animals knew, and when herds of the same animals mingled, the order was still maintained, and herd integrity was sustained.What to Consider When Raising Sheep and Goats Together

A goat and sheep hered we knew raised the sheep and the goats together; even though both species ate the grass differently and had to be moved more often, raising them together helped protect the herd.  One day another herd was being driven through the area, and a couple of animals got into the pens.  But, the goats and sheep raised together knew the outsider was not orderly and helped keep those animals away from their young and isolated from the whole herd.  The smell is the only answer I have as the foreign herd was smelled by our herd and shunned.  Even when new animals were introduced for the herd to grow, it took several days and several smelling sessions before those new animals were trusted by the rest of the herd.

In one Herculean effort, I heard a goat herder who tried to introduce a foreign billy into the goatherd due to the death of the former billy.  The nanny goats would have nothing to do with the new billy, even when draped in the skin of the old billy goat.  The goat herder tried everything, but until that billy had spent sufficient time with the nannies and smelled correctly, the billy was powerless to lead the herd and perform the duties he had been purchased to complete.  Interestingly, a similar problem occurred for a cattle farmer when introducing a foreign bull.  The cows refused his bull-like advances until the bull had spent time with the herd.  While I do not know if these are isolated incidents, I merely know that order is essential in the animal kingdom.

Lessons for Humans to Consider:Bobblehead Doll

    1. Gender does not change merely because a person wants it. The disorder caused by trying to be a different gender has repercussions and consequences beyond that individual’s choice.
    2. Humans and animals have will and agency, but order remains an essential characteristic of the world. I have heard that scientists have found great order when the observed chaos is understood.  Through magnification, scientists have moved closer to how things move, and I find it incredible the order found that once was described as chaos.
    3. Parents have a duty and role to play. However, their children also play a role, and the order found in families is a prerequisite to good societies.  An animal analogy, the herd of sheep I moved and cared for as a hired hand was a collective society.  They had rules, expectations, and those not choosing to follow the herd society regularly found themselves in danger when the weather changed, when a threat was near, and generally were the ones you could count on to be injured or die unexpectedly.
    4. Diary cows, after milking, will run to the farthest fence in a field; if they find the fence strong, the whole herd will congregate, graze, and chew their cud knowing strong fences protect them. In a storm, trusting the fences, the dairy cows will huddle together and move as a unit to protect younger cows and warm each other.  Dairy cows are not terribly different from humans, we push at barriers (laws), and if we find them sufficiently strong, we band together for protection into social circles and groups.  Failure of laws finds society broken and easily conquered by external and internal threats.
    5. Order in human societies remains an essential element in protecting, promoting, and providing social growth and development. Herds of animals, gaggles of geese, flocks of ducks, murder of ravens, etc., all depend upon the order in their society, or that society falls apart and, like iron filings to a magnet, has to reform into new organizations.

Knowledge Check!Are humans really so different from animals?  Are human societies much different from the societies of animals?  I ponder these questions regularly and am not surprised when social problems in humans are resolved by watching animal herds.  Covering a bull in the skin of a horse does not make a bull into a horse.  Castrating a bull does not morph the bull into a cow.  We must understand better the order, the laws, and the social requirements for society.  Animals and humans choose which society (country, town, city, etc.) they prefer.  If they choose to belong to that society, they must obey or onboard that society’s rules and social expectations.Taking Advantage of the 80/20 Rule | People First

Rarely does the 80% of the herd get into trouble, but the 20% of the herd does not sway or influence into danger the other 80%.  Right now, in human societies, there is a vocal 20% who insist that their reality must become the reality of the entire community.  Do we sacrifice the safety and security of the 80% for the choices and lifestyles of the 20%?  This is the question before us, and animal societies have provided the answer if we are willing to act accordingly.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Jacob and Esau – The Perils of Government; An Analogy

Bobblehead DollSeveral books of scripture, in multiple religions, record the story of Jacob and Esau.  Jacob and Esau are twins male children of Isaac and Rebekah.  The boys were competitors for their entire lives.  Esau acts outside his parent’s wishes in marriage, sells his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of pottage (stew or beans; something cooked in a pot), and late in life is reconciled to Jacob even though his people continue to have animosity towards Jacob’s people to this day.  While the story of these twin brothers remains useful to those in religion and teaches several morals of importance, Jacob and Esau represent a classic tale of why government should be limited in size and scope.

Genesis 27, Old Testament, contains the story of how Jacob obtains the birthright blessing, which had been sold to him by Esau for the aforementioned bowl of pottage.  Consider with me what would have happened if the same bloated government we have right now had meddled in the affairs of Isaac, Jacob, and Esau.  The cost of meddling in the internal family affairs, the government would have taken 40% inheritance tax.  Esau would have always had the government as a millstone and ready excuse for not reconciling with Jacob, and lawyers and government officials would have further sundered the family.

Remember this, for it has importance in the following discussion, the government does not grant freedom, EVER!  As described and stated in the US Constitution and US Bill of Rights, freedom comes from a power higher than government, and government was only, ever, instituted for the benefit of man.  Ask yourself, is your government benefitting you?Plato 2

I guarantee the answer is no; regardless of the political spectrum, you prefer.  Why, because the government should not be exerting powers in areas that control or curtail the freedoms of the people.  Esau never valued his birthright, so selling it was easy, and a bowl of pottage was a rich reward for something he did not value.

How expensive is government-funded medical treatment?  Some will claim, but those receiving treatment never see a bill; really?  Costs are more than merely a statement representing the need to pay money.  What about the loss of privacy?  What about the loss of freedom to choose what treatments and providers are best for you?  What about the loss of innovation to the thumb of oppression from the government?  What about the loss of self-reliance and the health benefits of independence?  What about the destruction of your community and the connections people felt with and pride for community hospitals?  What was lost when the medical community forced, through the abuse of government intervention, the knowledge of herbs for the sterility of Big Pharmaceutical drugs?

For the hope of a prosperous retirement, what was sold; freedom and money in the now.  Yet, one should ask, where does the government get the power to take money, then give it back at some future point?  Except, how many of those government retirement Ponzi Schemes are fully funded, even with all the money flowing in?  The answer is as empty as Esau’s bowl.  Still, the government continues to steal money through forced taxation and purchase the hopes and liberties of citizens for that hoped-for bowl of pottage, prosperity in retirement.Plato 3

For the hope of reducing poverty, the government purchased a class of people whom they could abuse and ignite for political gain anytime they want or desire.  To create this aggrieved class of people, the government took over welfare programs, bought people with bread and circuses, asked them to stay in government houses, live on government food, enjoy government-provided entertainment, etc.  What was sold for this bowl of pottage; liberty, potential, freedom, upward mobility financially, safety and security, and hope.  What has been the consequences of this purchase; a permanently aggrieved class of people who look longingly at another’s possessions and desire them through theft because hard work is racist, demoralizing, and stops the government handouts.  Worse, the government had to grow in power and size to “manage” this class of people, creating those with six-digit salaries to rub the purchased people’s faces in the irony of what was lost in the purchase.

The United States has been waging a “War on Drugs,” almost since its founding.  The government considers one drug “good,” mainly due to the ease of controlling it for taxation purposes, and another drug “bad.”  Yet, how successful has it been in this “war?”  Not at all, and its failures are increasing year-over-year, even while new methods of taxation are being invented to manage “legal drugs.”

Alcohol in the United States has had a history of acceptance, tolerance, legal banning, and returned to tolerance and acceptance, all through human desires, abuse of government powers, and the need for tax revenue.  Sin taxes, the class of tax used to allow a citizen government approval to get drunk, stoned, or inject poison into their bodies, are among the highest taxes in America.  Yet, the more the taxes increase, the more people want these products, and the more the government wants people to use these products, for we see the purchase of something transitory using something highly precious to barter.  What is more precious than time and physical health, and what is purchased but something that can only temporarily ease pain or provide relief at best.Apathy

Tobacco has been a favorite drug of the government for its population to enjoy, pushing the popularity of the drug even while condemning and restricting how, when, where the drug can be enjoyed.  Tobacco farmers have played vital roles in American history, and the product has been a significant cash crop for government revenue.  Have you ever wondered where the money and research facilities originate to improve cigarette addiction?  Have you ever considered where the marketing materials originated to pitch the health benefits of smoking?  Do you realize that government is the biggest provider of money for research and marketing purposes?  Never forget the government has become flush with cash, pushing tobacco, regulating tobacco, and licensing tobacco.  Now ask yourself, why would the government give on the one hand and take on the other, because it is making money with both hands as people sell something precious for something valueless and transitory.

Do people get injured and need assistance; yes, but the government is never the answer to provide help.  Are there those who are trying to thrive and escape poverty; yes, but the government is never the answer to providing help.  A truth from time immemorial, governments do not produce anything; thus, the government must first take through legalized theft, taxation, and legal abuse to give to someone else.  Every representative government must walk a balancing act between what a government is and what responsibilities a government must shoulder.  Except, how many continue to make Esau’s mistake and sell something incredibly precious for something transitory and essentially valueless?

Worse, evaluate the consequences of allowing the purchase to occur.  First, the seller experiences buyer’s remorse, anger, jealousy, regret, and the government making the purchase laughs, making the bitterness of the sell more poignant.  Second, the seller needs an outlet for this buyer’s remorse.  In an effort to continue to purchase while appeasing, the government allows the seller to go destroy the property and goods of another less politically connected person and calls this social justice.  Third, the abused class of people who are not politically affiliated or are political rivals, whose property is being destroyed, looks on, and envy, malice, and contempt are bred, which furthers the goals and desires of the government.The Duty of Americans

Esau took a long time to be reconciled to Jacob, but it first required admitting that he had sold his birthright (something of great value) for something transitory and valueless (food).  Jacob and Esau’s story remains of great importance and a cautionary tale, especially for understanding why government needs to be smaller, less involved, and less able to abuse the citizenry.  For too long, the governments worldwide have either abused their powers to purchase or been established as a tyrannical and oppressive government.  Either way, the government is the problem, and the answer continues to be the same, curb the government!

Knowledge Check!If COVID has taught the populations of the earth anything, let us learn this valuable lesson, the government is the problem, not the solution!  The size of government is oppression, the cost of government is theft, and the loss of precious freedom and liberty for transitory and valueless gifts or benefits which come at too high a price in treasure and other precious resources.  We, the owners and the abused of government, must change how we think and feel about the role of government before all is lost to the ever-hungry maw of government and self-interests!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Leadership and Kipling: 7-Kipling Quotes to Consider

The following is a reflection on life lessons learned at the feet of a great writer, Rudyard Kipling. Below is the quote; then the life lesson. While not a post intended to be read alone or all at once, this message is designed for pondering, thinking about how these words impact your current life, how they echo deep in your mind, and relate to others the personal meaning. Consider this a week-long journey of thinking and pondering, a mental exercise and an imaginative journey.

 1.  Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. – Kipling

  • I first came across this quote during a difficult period where my choices and reliance upon words and phrases was creating the problems experienced. Long had the lessons of my youth regarding proper English, pronunciation, annunciation, and word choice were giving me problems socially, but I could not understand why. The words we choose become addictive. The experience of using those words to achieve communication provides a positive feedback loop sustaining word choice, and very carefully the mind closes, the heart congeals, and we begin to attract those just like us. Breaking the cycle requires choosing different words, expressions, and raising our consciousness to the power of expression. Make the choice to choose words more carefully and specifically, and then see where that choice takes you.

2.  We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse. – Kipling

  • I had a football coach in Altamont, UT who said something very similar. When I discovered this quote several years later, I remembered that coach. More importantly, the lessons of working, striving, achieving, and failure came to mind as well. Failure is to be expected, anticipated, and even appreciated. Not for the excuses, but for the lessons, failure can either be a teacher and builder or ultimate destroyer. The choice to build or destroy remains lodged in the one person who can choose; you. Choose wisely!

3.  For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. – Kipling

  • This could be the ultimate team quote, but I refuse to think of this quote that way. This is the ultimate society quote, as society must always remain cognizant of the power of the individual and the collective fit that individual has in society. As my injury and disability has grown year-over-year, the realization of this statement from Kipling drives ever more powerfully home. I have had the pleasure of working with some amazingly talented disabled people, who have been shunted to the side, abandoned, forgotten, but their power to impact lives was not diminished. I firmly belief our society or “wolf pack” is stronger for those struggling with disabilities. Embracing the philosophy that all can contribute empowers, supports, strengthens, and builds the wolf pack.

4.  Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run. – Kipling

  • The best leaders I have ever been privileged to know never inspire people to engage in long tasks, but short bursts of power. Consider the movie “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson. In this movie is a scene where he asks the militia forces under his command not to fight for the whole day or even fire three shots, but simply fire two shots, implying the need to stand and act just long enough. This is the essence of the action discussed by Kipling. Large events hinge upon small acts, small efforts that were made by people filling 60-seconds of life with full effort and purpose. Leaders must remember to only ask enough and no more; enough is most often simply filling 60-seconds of life full to the brim.

5.  Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade. – Kipling

  • Acknowledging the “Power of Work” and the “Law of the Harvest,” which are two powers that change the world one engaged person at a time. Hard work is the investment upon which harvest is born. How often does a person refuse to do the work and then cries about harvesting bitter and useless fields? We see this in a lot of different places, people engaged in sowing hate, envy, strife, and discontent, then complaining that their harvest of bitter crops is too great to bear and wants a new harvest of honey and milk. Leaders must exemplify the need for hard work and the patience required to harvest fields of good crops to their followers. In training, the answer to understanding work comes and delivers its own lessons to be appreciated.

6.  I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. – Kipling

  • Do we understand the power and conviction of this choice? Choosing to believe the best in another requires preparation and a desire to have the best in us be trusted, believed, and seen. Leaders, who personify the quote as internal characteristics, form the backbone of change, the foundation of good society, and reflect the courage needed in difficult times to thrive and build. The time for choosing is today, the need for choosing apparent, and with this single choice, America will never be stronger.

7.  If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. – Kipling

  • The human condition is a condition of storytellers. Through stories, we teach, learn, and relate. The choice of words we use in telling the stories teaches values, ideals, and heritage in a most influential way, and most importantly our culture is relayed. Historical events are stories, Hollywood tells stories, books tell stories. Through these stories memories are kept, attraction to or detraction from the storyteller occurs, and language is preserved.

James Allen reports in “As a Man Thinketh” (1903) about thought and purpose claiming, “Until thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment.” Continuing to further claim, “They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pitying’s.” History provides the link between thought and purpose; stories of history are the mold the character of a person is poured into. Hence, both the need to learn history and the requirement to tell history as a story for others to learn requires serious consideration.

Why undertake a week-long mental exercise, the answer lies in the words of James Allen:

“Mind is the master power that moulds and makes,
And man is mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: –
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking glass.”

Contained in these words is understanding, leadership in the current world requires both understanding thought and a commitment to preserving thought in those who follow. Consider and ponder upon these gems of intelligence. The power of these words from Kipling to guide, mentor, and build others cannot be understated. There is great need for leaders in America; leadership continues to be a choice. If we keep this in mind, the world would be a much better place!

© 2016 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved