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Tuesday, August 6 2019 6:45 AM
By Anne Burkholder

Crying Wolf...

I remember talking to my girls when they were younger about one of Aesop’s Fables, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I’d been out in the horse pasture doing evening chores one day when my middle daughter came running outside (with the drama meter at close to 10) to inform me that her younger sister was “ruining the house” and I needed to come inside right away. I sighed and rolled my eyes a bit, but aborted my chores to head in to investigate.

If I hadn’t been a bit aggravated, I might have laughed at what I found. My three-year-old was systematically filling a bowl with water using the “big girl stool” in the bathroom, and then taking it to her older sisters’ room to dump it on the carpet. While the mess being made on the floor wasn’t that funny, the response given by my oldest daughter toward the action was hilarious. Ashley Grace (then 8) was a rule follower with an incredibly yank-able chain. She was nearing an interesting level of hysteria that provided some needed comic relief. Even at age three, Karyn had become an expert at getting a dramatic response out of her oldest sister. Megan, my middle daughter, was always game to play along!

When dad got home that night, we read the fable and talked about why it was important to not create drama and alarm during a non-emergency moment. It was one of those times that my husband and I happened to parent effectively and the girls learned an important lesson. As farm kids, the fable was meaningful to them. And, going forward they held each other accountable to eliminate instances of crying wolf.

Social technology in 2019 lends itself toward embellishment and the perpetuation of drama. I, like the adults in The Boy Who Cried Wolf, tend to ignore the news and discount most of the dramatic messages that I see. I guess I’m tired of what I consider a lack of integrity in reported facts and news across the internet. The downside of my attitude is that I may miss an important lesson or topic that I could help address just as the boy failed to receive help when the wolf attacked and he really needed it.

I was listening to a podcast the other day where Dr. Frank Mitloehner of UC-Davis was being interviewed on the topic of green-house gas emissions. He was talking about the reported EPA statistic that 3.9% of all green-house gases in the United States come from agriculture (both crops and animals), and how this statistic is often buried underneath erroneous data that attributes a much larger blame on farmers. The drama created by the false data tends to overshadow the need for all of us to get better about food waste, recycling and being responsible environmental stewards.

My girls have been known to mention from time to time that their mom is weird, but as I listened to Dr. Frank I couldn’t help but think to myself “The fear of the cow fart diverts us from the important reality that we can all do better at respecting our earth by reducing food waste and recycling.” Managing my portion sizes and using up all leftovers packs a powerful punch in terms of reducing the environmental footprint of my family, while exchanging my favorite steak for a meatless salad merely deprives my body of the iron-rich protein that it needs to remain healthy. We’ve definitely got a problem in our country today – As Dr. Frank pointed out, we waste 40% of the food that is grown in the United States every year. But, arguing over whether or not to go meatless only creates drama in what is actually a very serious discussion. Decreasing what goes to the landfill is a powerful way to reduce the burden that our Mother Earth carries. I think that it’s time to tone down the drama meter, stop being afraid of cow farts and come together to find meaningful solutions.

As my girls learned all those years ago, Crying Wolf does not bring about responsible action...


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Innovative Livestock Services, Inc.

Innovative Livestock Services

2006 Broadway Avenue
Great Bend, KS 67530

(620) 793-9200

4805 Vue du Lac
Manhattan, KS 66503

(785) 587-9700

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