Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

RANCH MUSINGS: What owns what, or who?

We need to behave as though we belong to the place rather than the other way around.

David Zirnhelt

Ranch Musings

We all know that slavery is unsavory, to say the least, whether it is race-based or personal in the case of a partner that dominates the other person in a relationship.

This is about the attitude landowners take in their control of the land they purport to steward.

Farmers are crying out that land they manage is a big Carbon sink, or it can be, if handled correctly. “Regenerative practices” is the watchword these days.

Reflecting on my own dreams about “owning” significant amounts of land is to remember that the objective was to manage it as though I and it were here to stay and thrive: the people and the living inhabitants and non-living parts of the landscape.

We can view land ownership as a right we purchase and that the wealth that is embedded in the land can be sold or somehow passed on to someone else and that wealth can be recaptured in some form.

I have always thought that leaving natural capital (the wealth of the soil and trees, for example) in place, by not exploiting it by using it up or displacing it, is the least costly way to keep a healthy environment for a healthy population of living things.

I have often written about the meaning of “place” and why this is something that people are currently focusing on more and more. Perhaps people living in the built environment of cities which have become concrete jungles are trying to “green” themselves and get better connected with the nature they displaced.

Good luck on that.

Please don’t let them bring their baggage with them when they buy a plot, large or small, in the countryside.

Someone, (whose name I do not recall) has been quoted as expressing the human dilemma this way: Humans need to think and behave as though they are part of the “place” they are in and maybe “dominated” by. In other words, we belong to the place where we live and work.

If we really respect a place, we belong to it. If we don’t respect it then we may well then dominate it through our ownership, by thinking that it is our property to treat as we wish.

We need to behave as though we belong to the place rather than the other way around. If we think the place belongs to us, then we probably won’t treat is as though there are so many things that are part of a larger living entity.

Respect, not dominance, should define the relationship.

How this respect plays out is the focus of much discussion in farming these days.


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