Time is a funny thing, ain’t it? My brother Danny posted a few lessons he learned living in Tucson and quoted me as drilling into his head, “If you are early, you are on time; if you are on time, you are late; and if you are late, you are left behind.” I have tried to live by this adage, but my time management skills certainly need some work. My long-lost pal Chel Moore posted a great article on timeliness posted by Greg Savage. The post goes as far as to (almost) slander my character.
Going back to how time is a funny thing (not funny ha ha, funny weird). Time has different speeds I have discovered. As a kid growing up on a ranch, summer seemed sooooooooooooooo long. There seemed to be a correlation between the number of fence posts I dug and erosion of my mathematic skills. Those darn teachers would have to take the first two weeks to get us all lined out again when school was back in session. Time was certainly slow back then. Today, I try to pack as much into a day as I can. This can cause me to be tardy to certain meetings, despite my best intentions. After reading the Savage article, I am pledging to be where I am supposed to be, when I am supposed to be. The jury is still out on how that will work out.
On the ranch, time is embedded in all that we do. When we look at range monitoring data, we are trying to establish a “long term” view of vegetation changes in response to grazing management and other factors. But what is long term? I often think about what landscapes some of the first people who inhabited this region saw. Places where we currently crash through mesquite brush chasing a non-conformist cow may have been wide open grasslands. How much water was in the mighty Santa Cruz? What populations raised their families along those banks? What kind of wildlife species called the Santa Fe Ranch home? Time is also critical in the short view. How long do we leave cows in a certain pasture? Dr. George Ruyle educated me on looking at not just the tops of plants, but to think about what is happening with root reserves. We can all take a look at certain areas where livestock have been left to graze too long and see the shift in vegetation from perennials to annuals. This short term damage can lead to long term impacts.
Time is also a commodity that has no reverence for wealth, social status, ego, ethnic background or our best intentions. We all get the same amount and what we do with it is completely up to us. My good friend Dan Bell took time out of his busy schedule to talk to the U of A Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity this weekend about leadership. He certainly had better things to do, but chose to give his time to these young men who are the next generation of agriculture producers and advocates. The impact that he had by giving this time is immeasurable. Dan stressed that it was so important to give of your time, so that you can enjoy what you choose to do with the rest of your time. In his case, it’s continuing the family ranch. The Colorado Beef Council just shared on Facebook that the average farmer gets 584 fewer hours of sleep per year than the average person. Well, I’d call that blessed, since most of those hours are outdoors and with family! Or, maybe it’s because they are trying to get to meetings on time…