What is it about some people which allows them to go on acquiring things when the need has passed?
The preceding question is not rhetorical. The "people" in question is us.
I was reading an article a while back, part of a collection of readings in anthropology. Anthropology is not normally a subject which entices me to read on but in this case my eye was caught by what seemed to be a piece describing a new view of some of the 'hunter-gatherer' tribes of southern Africa.
There is a sequence of survival techniques through which mankind has ensured its continuance over the millennia, each one presumably a little more sophisticated than the last; and leading (of course) by a steady progression up to us. Never before us has there been a society in which so many people were able to concern themselves with matters that did not directly concern the provision of food.
at a good hunter-gatherer would have to say about it all
After the cows have been watered, the gutter shovelled out, new bedding distributed, water buckets removed and refilled for the next time, hay put down, and short feed distributed, there is little left to do but sit down and milk.
It takes a while to get to that point, of course, and many thoughts float through the brain in the interim, but one only gets down to serious thinking when one hauls out the milking stool, and plunks it down beside Cow A.
Before that, most of the thinking has been relatively practical. There is, for example, the perennial issue of how to muck out the steer. As far as I can tell, this is not a question of a particular steer. Each steer we have had has seen the world in very much the same way. His tendency is to see you and the shovel coming and to move over so as to be standing exactly in the spot which most needs cleaning. The cow is used to being shoved a bit to move her so the milker can sit down beside her, but steers just never seem to see the point.
It is while milking that one has the chance to turn over the big issues, like moving the steer.
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.