Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Value of This Horse Life

Pavan Sukhdev: Put a value on nature! | Video on TED.com

"The economic invisibility of Nature...."  That has a very sad and forbidding sound.  Pavan Sukdev has it right.  It's not just about the Amazonian rain forest and the ecosystem.  It's about our own survival.

Open space. You can almost hear the hum-buzz of the bugs
and the grateful chirping of the birds,
and the coyote killing the groundhog.
Oops!
When you are worrying about making your next board payment, it's probably hard to see the value in what you're doing, but it's there.  Your feeding that horse and keeping him healthy means that the vet and the barn owner also get to eat and pay their bills.  No, I'm not being sarcastic...very much, anyway.  I'm talking about the local ecosystem, the "benefits that flow from Nature to humanity for free", what your horse ownership does for you and for the system around you.

You pay, and the people you pay get to pay other people.  You buy tack, and somewhere a guy with a cow skin laid across his work bench gets to buy another roll of waxed thread and have a burger while he works.  You buy a slinky, and the spangle industry feels a friendly bump.  The land your horse is turning into a mud-wrestling pit as you read this is open space that is so very vital to the planet and the local ecology.  Fields, trees, even the bits of undigested grain in his 50 pounds of daily manure requirement feed and house other animals.  Do you ever think about the flies that buzz so happily around your manure pile?  Yes, they're annoying, but without them there would be no maggots, and without maggots there would be some serious pile-ups of biological materials that they devote themselves to breaking down.  

Doesn't that suggest that you're doing a good thing?   Something to be admired, even?  It does, and it should.  I know first hand how hard it is to explain this lifestyle to people not involved in any way with livestock.  It's hard to explain to other livestock people why we keep animals that don't give milk, lay eggs, or put steak on the table.  In my book, that gives us an extra gold star on our mental health reports.  We do it just to do it.  
20,000 people appreciating what we do

Sometimes we get so caught up in the economic minutiae of the world that we forget that all of that other stuff is mere human construct.  Wall Street (occupied or otherwise), politics, religion....all of it is meaningless in the face of Nature.  The planet simply is.  We play on it as we choose.  It's my belief that those of us who choose to husband it even a little should respect our roles and ourselves whether or not we feel the love from everyone around us.  

In this economy, it's hard to justify horse ownership, but we must justify it to ourselves.  Certainly, human construct or not, we also need to be sane and make sure our responsibilities are covered before we stretch farther than we can reach.  But with the holiday season nearly at an end, I think it would behoove us all to step back and simply appreciate who we are, what we're doing, and the land and the animals that allow us to do it.  

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

rockandracehorses said...

What a nice thought- thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!