Kris Ringwall, NDSU Extension Service, Published October 11 2012
Beef Talk: To seek knowledge is goodWe are halfway through the fall semester, so students are busy learning. The reality of skipping class or slacking off is starting to show up for some. For others, the self-fulfilling rewards of better understanding how the world works is becoming evident.
The hallways always have a question or two, even if the questions are not about a class assignment. For students today, not unlike those of yesterday, the challenge in how to put all the pieces together remains. However, the answers are not insurmountable.
Even for those who teach, keeping up with the ever-unfolding scrolls of
knowledge is difficult. A smile is worth producing as one listens to those who moan and groan about the complexities of modern living and the desire to go back to those "simpler times." Even those who prod ahead by challenging students to think and comprehend outside of their chosen box occasionally ask for the same.
The fact of the matter is that the world never will become simpler, so, by
whatever mechanism one can, one needs to push forward to understand what it is that the world learned today.
The business of beef always changes, so understanding beef from conception to consumption is multidimensional. Occasionally, as I travel around, one
encounters sentiments that really wish our advancements in understanding about how things work would go away. Although one could sympathize briefly, the reality is that the pursuit of doing things better is deeply engrained in all of us. We want to know the "why" and "how" of the world. Perhaps someday all will be known, but for now, we are not even close.
Even the simple things in life are not always understood. As fall arrives and the world around us chills, we seek warmer places. Some might say we are like geese looking for a way out. We start to hustle a little more and plan ahead, but somehow, unlike geese, we muster the strength and desire to stay put and prepare for seasonal change and the upcoming winter weather.
Some may venture to say that geese are the smarter component of our conversation because they can find their way south without a map or a smart electronic device. However, we do know and understand what it takes to live in this world and we do seem to adjust.
Even though the path may be tough, we make the commitment to forge ahead. While forging ahead, we learn to better understand the world around us and how it works. Times may have changed a little, but seldom do you find anyone who wants to replow old ground. In other words, if someone has figured out a better way to do things, why not adapt and try the new? Not everything works, but trying is easier than starting over.
The world of beef really is no different than the many other living systems we try to understand. We do not know all the reasons, but as fall arrives, other living things are looking to hibernate, depart to warmer climates or, as in the case of a few, adapt and develop specific strategies to survive.
Life is programmed in all that is around us. The challenge to understand is not uniquely assigned to those in classes but to all of us.
We are challenged to better understand the biology behind living systems. We are far from fully understanding all there is to know about raising beef, so we must be willing to keep looking and learning.
Every day, the classroom is the place to challenge and expand how it is that we have come this far in this place we call home. The tools change every year, and each class has a new toolbox.
Some would say life really doesn't change that fast. That might be true, but don't tell those who are climbing a mountain. There is no need to look down, only up to the eventual destination.
We still do not fully know why geese go south, why bears hibernate or why the trees let go of their leaves in the fall. We do know that it is good that we harvested the wheat, picked the pumpkins and filled the hay mow with hay. It is good that we prepare for the changing seasons and provide for the living things we are entrusted with.
Furthermore, it is good that we helped the poor, spent time with those who are less fortunate and shared our prosperity with those who have less. All this is good, but it gets better. When we read, study and seek to extend our understanding of the world around us, we ultimately increase our knowledge.
Thus, the process of understanding how things work allows us to better
understand how to make things work better.
May you find all your ear tags.
Your comments are always welcome at http://www.BeefTalk.com.
Ringwall is a North Dakota State University Extension Service livestock
specialist and the Dickinson Research Extension Center director.