Ranching and Neuroscience: going hand in hand.
Well, I was going to write an in depth piece on the way manual labor enhances our well being and helps to insulate the brain from depression, backed up by some pretty interesting new research, but decided to keep this one on the relative light side.
We all have our miniature Herefords for a variety of reasons; the investment and return value is but a small factor. There certainly has to be more involved than the wallet to be really successful in any endeavor, be it cattle or baking cakes; there has to be the passion. And reward. Those who succeed do so because they believe in what they are doing is good for something or someone. They have a passion and can see real, tangible results from their efforts…these are the successful people we see in all walks of life, raising really good (anything)… miniature Herefords being just one example.
Working with ones hands gives immediate results and therefore gratification. These results, whether building a fence or helping a newborn calf to its feet, engage a part of the brain that is responsible for a sense of well being and gratification, taking our minds off the bigger issues in our lives that maybe mentally weighing us down. This may explain why so many folks with high powered – high stress occupations such as doctors, lawyers and others find farming and ranching as a way to relax and detox from their everyday lives. New research indicates for the first time that the simplicity and repetition (think sewing, ranching, gardening, etc!) of working with the hands, engaging the problem solving area of the brain, and seeing real, tangible results is the feel- good reward we all crave and, apparently need to protect against depression.
There is no place I would rather be than out working with my cattle. Building fence or hanging a gate, feeding and watching the animals eat, working with the vet. For many years I (and my family especially) thought there must be something seriously wrong with me. But now I finally understand the draw and desire that raising cattle has for me personally; immediate and tangible rewards from my mental and physical time invested. Is there anything more relaxing than leaning on a gate watching your animals as they move through a new pasture or kick up their heels in sheer delight for the life you have had a hand in providing?
For me, not much. Aside from watching my own children as they mature towards responsible adulthood, my cattle keep me sane. What more can I say. Crazy? If not for my small farm and my small herd of small cattle, I probably, quite seriously, would be.
So go ahead, take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Go “kill some time” “puttering” (do we dare even do that these days?) around your place and with your animals. It may very well be the best therapy there is. .