by Cynthia

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Princess with her head stuck through the fence. Again.


This is my little goat, Princess, who really does believe that the grass is greener, and tastier, on the other side of the fence. Never mind that she has ten acres of good grazing at her hoof tips. Perhaps she was lured by the faint scent of wild honeysuckle growing along  the fence row in the next field. Maybe she spotted some poison ivy, a goat delicacy, creeping up a sumac and she couldn’t hold herself back. She never learns.  God love her little bitty goat brain. She acts surprised every time she gets stuck, crying out to her buddies who nonchalantly look her way and keep on chewing. Our Great Pyrennes, Harry, has begun to ignore her. When she was younger,  he would do his good goat dog duty and go sit beside her until Tim or I arrived to wrangle her free.  I think he has finally developed compassion fatigue.  Princess gets herself into this predicament so frequently that we have moved her into a pasture with electric fencing.

The problem really isn’t that she sticks her head through the fence, it’s that she can’t keep on going. She can’t get her whole self through.  She sees something she wants, she heads in that direction, then she gets stuck.  Princess is a walking metaphor for what we psychotherapists call Ambivalence.  She has lots of desire, but not enough follow through.  Trapped by her own bulk, she is unable to move forward.

I realize I have my own ambivalence about being a better citizen of the planet. I decide to drive my car on a day when I could easily take the train. I order a chicken dish  in a restaurant that has Tyson written all over it.  I get enraged by the squash bugs annihilating my zucchini, and I buy some Sevin, “just this once.”

These petty environmental crimes won’t have a big impact on the environment, but neither will my efforts to live green and eat clean. Global warming is bigger than all of us little organic gardeners out here no-tilling and composting and recycling and picking bugs off our plants at sunrise. But we are making a difference.

Growing your own food reduces your carbon footprint in at least two ways. Think about this finding in a recent study of organic versus traditional farming methods;  “Recent studies of the US food system have shown that most (50–70%) of the average households‘ carbon footprint for food consumption comes from farm production and subsequent processing, with transport accounting for only an average of 11%, respectively, across all sectors or food products.”   Sustainability 2011, 3, 322-362

The more food we grow in our back yard, or buy from our local organic CSA,  the more we reduce our carbon footprint.  And we get much better food.

Maybe, just maybe, if enough of us are passionate about the planet, and we make enough noise, the rest of the world will pay attention. Maybe our collective ambivalence about making the kinds of changes that DO impact the environment will begin to shift. Then those folks who refuse to believe that humans are negatively impacting the global climate might get on board. They might realize they are not as smart as they once thought, might second guess their assertions about hard science and recurring patterns.

Meanwhile, the garden is planted and the fruit trees are full of tiny apples and peaches and cherries and pears. The berry bushes are heavy with green fruit. The animals on our farm are making us lots of rich fertilizer and we are moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle. I will get stuck now and then. Caught in my laziness, or ignorance, or ambivalence. Seduced by a Big Mac. If you see me, give me a push




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