The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.

— Malcom Gladwell

Last evening Tina and I sorted 9 head out to sell from our 37 head herd. We brought them all up from the pasture into the 1/2 acre barn lot, then thought about how to run the sort.

Photo above taken facing east; we brought the cattle into the barn lot from the left gate. We decided to put the “for sure keepers” out the left gate above, and the “for sure sellers” out the right gate.

Here’s the barn lot standing between the two gates looking west.

It took a couple of animals before we got the hang of it nice and smooth, but by the end we had it working perfectly. I stood near one gate, and Tina stood near the other. The cows were standing by the barn, but slowly moved (on their own) back toward us. As they came, usually 2 or 3 at a time, we evaluated which gate each should go through and, once we made the decision and were clear in our own minds where each needed to go, it was almost like they read our minds and went to the right gate. I guess it was more than just our thoughts, we were moving in the right positions too, but there was that one cow where I just pointed to the right gate and she went through. Go figure!

This morning we brought the 9 up from the holding pasture into the corral. I sorted off the 3 cows to put in the front of the stock trailer and loaded them easily. I sorted the next 4 off and loaded them into the back. It looked like we had room for one more, so I sorted off another one and she stepped easily into the spot the others left for her, and we shut the back gate.

I went to bring the leftover calf (who didn’t fit on the trailer) out of the corral, and Tina said, “listen.” I stopped and listened, and there wasn’t a sound. The 8 cattle in the trailer were standing totally still. There was no banging for position, no pushing and butting, no sound whatsoever. That’s the way animals need to load and act.

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