on culling

Uncategorized Jan 23, 2024

 Of all the farming decisions one has to make, culling is the one most delayed and manipulated, but nothing has a more profound impact on the growth and development of a farm. 

Of a life too.. really. 

Culling is the practice by which the herdsman aims to improve the quality of the whole by removing the inferior.

 Like the shepherd of your own life- by taking stock of relationships, habits & behaviors, these same principles can be applied as a means of “weeding out” undesirable ways of being. 

“A flower crowded by weeds cannot grow.”


 So perhaps the things that could have the most impact might not be what we need to ADD to our already harried lives.
But, when was the last time you culled an undesirable element that's not serving you in living the type of life you want to live?

 For as Robert Greene pointed out:
It's often the weakest parts of our character responsible for establishing daily habits.

…because they require no conscious effort whatsoever to maintain. 


Building our culling muscle serves us, it’s needed everywhere and in everything. 



When you buy animals from other farms, you're not exactly getting their prized beloveds. 

You’re getting what they’re willing to part with. That doesn’t mean every animal you buy will have something wrong with it, but it does mean that they might. And if they’re healthy and robust, it still doesn’t mean that they will work out on your farm.

In my search for animals that would work well for us, I have bought and culled many over the years. Some couldn’t hack it in our tough hill country. Some were lousy mothers. Other issues included immune health and temperament.

 It took a few years to get to where we are now. Today, we have animals with robust immune health and a disease-free herd. Good mothers stay, bad mothers don’t. Animals with healthy genetics are bred. Animals that have been problematic are culled. It’s been this dedication to culling that has been my greatest ally in developing the farm & health of our animals. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 

It’s not often that the sheep that has health issues also happens to be a total jerk. They generally have other fine attributes about them. That's why it takes discipline.


& it is that discipline that crosses over into all aspects of life.
From relationships to budgeting to our health decisions, we all need to develop discernment, especially when emotion muddles our logic.


To cull is to make a decision today that will benefit your many tomorrows.
But it’s the decision today that's tough.
We- as a general lot, tend to put off  hard stuff, pushing grief to our future selves to deal with. It’s not a very ideal thing to do & quite honestly, it’s a great way to lose trust in ourselves. 

My avoidance of culling on the farm has delivered  bitter pills to chew on. So bitter that the unpleasantness lingers for a long time. Much longer than making a hard decision in the present to alleviate the growth of the problem that procrastination brings.
I’ve been schooled by that teacher and I’ve learned.

& It is these lessons that compelled me to [attempt to] draw this parallel from livestock to life.

 Vibrant health in today’s world demands discernment. 

The abundance of offerings masquerading as food means that everyday we are called to select what nourishes over what’s quick and convenient. What nourishes often takes more time and effort. We have endless, tasty offerings; Many of them will feel good in the moment, but few will bring us the clarity of mind and strength of body that we need to carry our ‘tomorrow selves’ around with ease.
So, we cull.
We identify what brings us closer to the type of lives we want to live and we get rid of the refuse. 

It’s the same framework overlayed across every part of our lives.

Always with an eye on the effects of our health & peace of mind we [can] cull ourselves, 

everyday, bit by bit- 

brought on by consistent observation. 


But how do we know what is serving us and our loved ones if we don’t sit with silence and honestly face what we are bringing into the world? 

We need to make time for the still. 

We need to make time for reflection, rumination(lol), prayer, meditation & contemplation so that we can open ourselves to what we are doing that is bringing us closer to the people we want to be.
Or, are we moving further away?
& in the case of the “further away”, we cull away the habits and practices that are not serving us to replace them with those that will. 

Much like clearing junk food from the fridge to clear space for the fresh produce.


I don’t like culling animals on our farm. I am happier to cull practices in life because there’s little emotion tied to it, but culling animals is a load I carry alone. I make that decision on our farm and it’s a heavy one. But I take it seriously and I’m devoted to the outcome in order to better the whole. In every decision there's a gem of possibility for something sweeter. I hold that right along with the weight of choosing who lives and who dies. 

I’m attached to my animals. 

Just as much as my habits and ways of being.

But, I tend to believe meaningful accomplishments are generally tied to a positive reaction to something about my nature that I disliked. 

So, we cull.
Cull with the sternness of someone who knows what’s best for you.
Sharpen the knife & trim away the bullshit 

knowing that with everything that goes, there is space to create.
Room for the light to shine in.
It can sting

& cause disruption, but don’t use that as a barometer for whether something is right or not.
Long term vision. 

What are you cultivating for your tomorrow with the decisions you're making today?



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