Sunday, March 18, 2018

Beware of Busy Nothings

November 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Manna, Going Global, Monthly Articles

“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” – Jane Austen

Here at the ranch, we brand calves the Old Fashioned Way, cowboys on horseback, twirling lassos, and red-hot branding irons. It’s dusty, dirty, and the fragrance is reminiscent of a barbecue. Of course, that depends on the talents of your chef.

A few weeks ago, at our last branding of the year, I noticed there were six branding irons in the “pot.” (It’s our one concession to technology, a propane torch heating the irons instead of a “real” fire.)

Why so many brands, I wondered, since only two irons are required to compose our brand? (Some days, I have time to ponder random thoughts, depending how handy the cowboys are at roping.)

I watched the brand handler. He replaced the just-used irons at the end of the pot and slid the next set of irons closer to the flame.  Ah, so there’s always a set of hot irons ready. Makes sense.

Considering this, then, I wondered where the old adage “too many irons in the fire” came from. (Obviously, I had too much time to think that day; the cowboys must have missed a lot of loops.)

What would happen if the branding pot were cluttered with too many irons, not just those of the ranch, but all the irons represented by the cowboys helping at the branding. And pile in a few more, just for good measure. How about those of the neighbours? And maybe some famous historical brands?

There’s gonna be a wreck.

Too many irons in the fire and they won’t heat properly, so brands will be botched by using a cold iron. In the chaos, that calf might end out sporting a Rafter Lazy M instead of a Circle P. And if the grass doesn’t get set ablaze first, some unsuspecting cowboy (or helper, like me) might get the left hip of his Wranglers scorched.

Right spot. Wrong critter.

It seems to be the norm nowadays to have many irons in the fire, and the more, the better, and that busy-ness is a virtue that is synonymous with godliness. I’m not denying there are tasks and responsibilities that must be done and done regularly. We all have families, jobs, school, homes, or farms.

(Is this where I mention the many organizational books on the market that are supposed to help keep our lives simple, but really give us more time to cram more stuff into our day?)

How much is too much? When is it time to draw back, delete that which is just so much busy work or just plain old time-wasting? What really matters in the light of eternity?

Keep traditions alive, but choose those things that will leave a positive mark, not a botched scar of weariness, irritation, and disappointment across your memories or the memories of your family.

“It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy.  The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted.” – Marie O’Conner

Maybe it’s time to let some irons cool. The world won’t spin off its axis if we whoa up a bit on our going hither and yon. Take a few minutes . . .  or hours . . . to smell the roses . . . or at least get a good whiff of branding smoke.

  • Less is always more.
  • Finding simplicity is sometimes difficult.
  • Pull some of those irons from the fire, before someone gets burned.
  • Beware the barrenness of a busy life. -Socrates
Ann Grover lives on a 30 000 acre ranch in northeastern British Columbia, Canada with her Cowboy husband. They have three grown children and two precious granddaughters.You can visit her blog at A Thousand Hills.



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One Response to “Beware of Busy Nothings”
  1. Rita Garcia says:

    Great advice! “Less is always more.” Something I’m really working on. Simplicity is all too often undervalued.

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