How River Guiding is Like Farming and Ranching

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If you like certainty in your life, then you won’t like guiding, farming, or ranching.  There are too many variable in all these ways of life to satisfy those who like or need black and white solutions to the trials and errors of any life style.  If you like the stability of knowing what will happen between 8am and 5pm of the common work week, then following a job that is more like a 24/7 proposition won’t be for you.

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All three lifestyles, guiding, farming, and ranching are enmeshed into the framework of nature and all the tribulations of adapting to constantly changing situations and challenges.   But that is also the beauty of not knowing before-hand what each day will bring, as the mystery is always just that. Something unknown waiting to happen, and not knowing for certain can be exciting and never dull.

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Climate, what is expected over the long haul,  and weather, which is what happens daily,  are the two things that are a baseline to lifestyles that are  foundationally tied to mother nature.  Each day counts. Going out in the middle of the night during  a snow storm to tend to a cow having a calf,  watching a hail storm destroy a crop of cherries, or rowing a boat in the middle of a down-pour to get down river are all a part of the bargain in these livelihoods.  Of course, it also includes cute little newborns in the spring sun, the sweet fragrance of a blossoming orchard, or the view of bighorn sheep drinking by the river’s edge as you float down stream.

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Sometimes, droughts control crops, be it animal or plant, and even the amount of water that rolls down the canyon, or not, that determines if a river can be navigated.  Whims of the weather shape behavior on our planet, for  all biological entities. Realities face isn’t always one we wish to kiss or a medicine we wish to taste. But, there isn’t a coin made that has only one side, so flipping it we must and live by the consequences that result.  Chance is always uncertain, while change is always a constant.

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The good, bad, and ugly all play out in  the grand uncertainty of it all.  Of course, the balance weights heavily in the positive aspects of the whole, otherwise, why would anyone wish to live this way? And why else would people who do these things wish to share it with others?  Seeing the smiles and content in the heats of others is reward enough, not counting the immense joy it brings to oneself.  Ears, eyes, and voice evolved for a reason. It wasn’t to be deaf, blind, or silent. All these things came about to share and develop community. Just like it takes all organs to make the body function properly, it takes a collective community to make a social system work well.

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Though I am a river guide, I have also worked in both other professions at some capacity during my years, so can appreciate the commonality between them all.  Though river guiding can be a lot of work, compared to the other two, I think I will stick to river guiding. Given the choice between shoveling cow and horse manure or viewing natural beauty of a river flowing through white-washed rocks from birds of prey, white always wins over brown in my world.

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Gary Lane
www.doryfun.com

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What Is The Frontier?

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Which frontier? The last frontier? The first? Yesterday’s, today’s, tomorrow’s?  No matter what kind of frontier one might think about, the one thing they all have in common is “place.”   Whether physical or mental, they represent a special place that we can go to.  They all provide great value because they are bound by horizons, which help define a goal of where we can travel to and push understanding forward. Each boundary has an edge where the “event horizon” falls off into the unknown. So frontiers might best be appreciated by their representation of where we can go to ponder the unknowable. Beyond the edge is where potential for new knowledge resides: a transition zone for transition zone where ignorance can be changed into understanding.

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Not knowing, is the carrot that keeps us jumping for that shinny object of our obsessions. It is innate curiosity that propels us through life, always wondering what the next event will be, or when we will reach our final one. Then what?  We may cross the line into the knowable, and then again, perhaps not. Only when we die will we know, or not know.  By definition, the unknown is precisely that. Something that can never be known. Knowing the unknowable does not qualify. The real unknown can never be reached or appreciated by those who know.

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What does it matter if we know or not? Or that there is or is not any kind of frontier? Some people might claim that it matters for its own sake. That is to say, like  mountain climbers who say they scale the mountain because it is there. Or people who say it is wise to save animals from extinction even if they seem to have no value to humans, but for their own sake. As I was thinking about the value of saving wildlife for their own sake, a lone coyote began howling in the wind. It seemed to be speaking directly to me and I was reminded of my synchronicity project with those sentient others whom I share the environment with.

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I write down the timing of natural events that happen simultaneously, or nearly so, with my own thinking that seems to be  linked to some kind of meaningful message.  Is it confirmation bias? Possibly. Does it matter? After all, are we not all biased towards many things in our lives?  No one can stand at the tip of their tall forever, they must succumb to some kind of lean eventually.  The important thing is to question our lean and the why of which direction it is in. Are the messages from god, nature,  myself, or nowhere at all? And what difference does it make?n fk payette june 17, 2013 040

The more number of people that can find themselves leaning towards the green of nature, the better is the potential for us to save the blue  planet from the more nefarious side of ourselves.  Any kind of frontier is a concept, and out there, somewhere.  How we choose to engage it matters. Do we gobble it up, or only eat part of it and leave more for others and the future? Our treatment of “place” has consequences. Every voice counts, as much as any rock can start an avalanche.

 PBD

 

Our internalized frontiers are affected by what we say to ourselves, and are important because they give rise to what we externalize and thus ripple out to impact the natural frontiers.

 

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Law of the Jungle

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All actions that take place on planet earth revolve around the Law of the Jungle. Eat or be eaten is the relationship game, no matter how tiny or sophisticated any given species becomes. Man often forgets his place in the scheme of things, elevating himself above the fray into  a false sense of security. All life systems function the same under nature’s law.  No exceptions.

BLACK WOLF

While some animals are called apex predators, by their position at the top of the food pyramid, it is a marvelous deception.  Because they too are food for those at the very bottom.  Microbes turn even the biggest of brutes into nutrients to recycle through the broad range biological spectrum again.  Predator-prey relationships is the foundational dance of all earthly entities that ultimately define the struggle for life and death.  One feeds the other in perpetuity.

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Even folks who go to the supermarket to buy food are hunters. They are looking for what they want, weaseling here and there when crowded stores create competition for limited resources on the shelves.  Trophy shoppers buy gourmet products while meat hunters look for cheaper ways to feed their families.

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In the natural world on a finite planet ecology is a closed system. Populations of any given species goes up and down in response to the supply and demand of various elements in the natural economy.  Equilibrium occurs between predators and prey  only when they pass each other on their way up or down, depending on which direction each is heading at the time the board is the same distance from the ground on each side.

Politics functions under much of the same rule, with each side trading places over time in who is up in power, and who is down. Unfortunately, the decisions of the elite whom supposedly represent the masses, are often out of kilter with reality. Their board has fallen off the fulcrum when decisions are made that may sound good on paper, but cannot be supported by ground truths.  Archeologists whom have studied all major cultures have noted this dire of circumstances common to all great civilizations,  when carrying capacities have been undermined by misinformation,  denial, and/ or distortion of the truth.  Good solutions require facts, not fiction. Poor judgment comes from  faulty reasoning and ignorance.  Not knowing and ignoring are two different forms of ignorance. One is vacant of facts, while the other pays them no attention. Both lead to the same wrong answer to any question about natural resources.  There is no escape from the Law of the Jungle.

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When ivory towers tumble, grass again begins to grow. Grass root efforts essentially undermine the highest of sky scrapers that ignore their own foundational shoring. Once the foundations crack, no technology or ideology of man is immune from crash and burn atrophy. When man is out of sync with natural processes, harmony is disrupted and progress heads off into helter-skelter land ruled by nature’s whip.  It is her way of discipline in maintaining earths  Law of the Jungle.

Native

Synchronicity Update:

Extraordinarily, just after I posted this essay, I ran into some very disturbing information concerning predator prey relationships still being carried out by our Dept of Ag through an agency called Wildlife Services.  (misnamed to be sure). It reveals an ideology and practice that still  permeates a segment of our culture that needs to be changed.  As ugly and disturbing as this video is, it is important to watch, if you really do care about our wildlife legacy:

http://www.predatordefense.org/exposed/

Remember: ignor-ance comes with a high price tag. In this case, to wildlife.