June 17, 2016: Longtime teachers offers a new lesson, by Gordon Morrison

June 17, 2016 by

Gordon Morrison

Gordon Morrison

As I was reviewing some of my old “Learning Post” stories, this one stood out as being very timely, as spring seems to be a time many of our community consider and begin new challenges. Students advance. Graduates prepare to continue their studies and start careers. Several of our community professionals are announcing new directions for their lives. It’s a momentous time for all of us as we seek to encourage them; while encouraging them, we also prepare our community for those who will come.


Go Through the Gate

The main herd had been in the quarter section of grass for less than three weeks. In that length of time, the pond had become miry to the point it was becoming hazardous for the cattle to wade out in the mud to get a drink. Without rain or any new growth of the grass, the turf was down to ankle high. It was time to move the herd.

I opened the gate into a new pasture of 120 acres. By calling and honking the pickup horn, a few adventurous cows approached the gate and passed through it. As others saw the advance cows go to new, fresh grass, they came running, not to be left out. Soon, most of the herd had easily been moved, but then there were those few who were content to graze on the short, dry grass and struggle against the mud in the pond. It was surely hard to convince them a move would be good and they would like it.

It took a lot of coaxing, prodding and finally a good tongue-lashing to get them to move to the gateway and a fresh beginning. There are always the laggards that are satisfied with the status quo. But for the good of the grasses and their carbohydrate reserve buildup for the next year’s spring growth and also to prevent a cow or calf from getting mired in the mud, I was persistent that they all move to new grass and water.

It was a good move; none of the cows wanted to return to the old pasture. However, I overlooked one cow and her calf. They had evaded my persuasion by hiding in a thicket. That afternoon was spent on moving the calf creeps, oil rubbers and mineral feeders to the new pasture. The shepherd removed all the blessings from the old pasture and then shut the gate, not to return. The stubborn cow and her calf were all alone without support. They were having their way, which left them desolate and in an uncompromising situation. Each day the sun was hotter and the wind stronger. The little puddle of water was fast drying up. Life became lonely, the company of the herd was no more; the gate was shut and the shepherd gone.

How well I remember teaching vocational agriculture at Council Grove for 14 years. I was familiar with the countryside the roads and trails the creeks and river and most of all — the people who worked the farms or ran the businesses in town. It was a good feeling to belong and to be accepted, to be in control of one’s destiny. I felt very secure.

Then one day I received a phone call and was asked to consider a move — to become an agri-business instructor at Cloud County Community College. The gate was opened wide. Was I to leave my familiar surroundings and go into the unknown? Doubts and fears rushed into my mind. Would I be able to handle teaching the college courses? Would my children be able to adjust to new friends and a new way of life? What did my wife really feel about leaving her parents and moving to a new pasture? It all looked appealing and good, but could we adjust? Is the grass really greener in a new pasture and the water cooler and cleaner?

When opportunity knocks loud and the door to a new change of life opens wide, should one walk through the gate? This is when one must listen to the voice of the shepherd and know his voice. If he leads you into a new pasture but you refuse to go, it is then you may very well be without a shepherd who has been leading you beside the cool waters, making you to lie down in green pasture and pouring oil on your hurts. Go where the shepherd leads you — it will be OK.

— Gordon Morrison is a retired educator, author and local rancher. This “Leaning Post” story was originally published in “Grass and Grain,” September 2000.


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