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Bucolic – adjective.  1. of or pertaining to shepherds; pastoral.  2. of, pertain to, or suggesting an idyllic rural life. []

In some ways, "bucolic" describes the life I lead.  Certainly the first definition applies – I am a shepherd who operates a pasture-based sheep business.  On some days, the second definition also applies – some days are idyllic.  Other days, unfortunately, are not.

Some of the stress I deal with is external.  Lack of rain, too much rain, predators that threaten my sheep, neighbors that object to our use of livestock guardian dogs – these are stressors that are largely outslide of my control.  However, I also find that I put stress on myself.  Most of this type of stress stems from my inability to say “no” – I seem to want to help anyone who asks.

Sometimes, I can’t say no to volunteer activities – things that I think are important to our community but that take time that I don’t have to give.  Other times, I can’t say no to business opportunities that take away from my core business.  Regardless, my inability to say the word “no” creates tension for my time and attention.

Most of the time, I find my present livelihood to be much more enjoyable (and less stressful) than the time I spent commuting to an office early in my career.  Also, I find that the physical nature of my work helps alleviate the effects of stress.  After a particularly stressful day yesterday, I went to a friend’s house and sheared five ewes for her.  The stress hadn't disappeared while I was removing the wool from her sheep, but I certainly felt better when I was done!


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