All hat and no cattle

Teaching business students is an eye-opening experience.  Being a liberal arts major means looking askance at such folk.  We saw them as greedy leeches, eager to make lots of money without learning any productive skills.  Later, when I was a psychology professor teaching applied psychology to business students, I learned how ethically challenged many of them are.  They seemed ready to do anything necessary to get good grades and also undercut their fellow students.

cropped-10247385_10152418555680097_7538287246898082227_n.jpgStill later, while helping small farmer cooperatives get established in poor Appalachian counties, I did meet one MBA who was really dedicated to helping small farmers and from whom I learned a lot about cash flow, business plans and spread sheets and realized there is some useful knowledge imparted in business schools.  He went on to an illustrious academic career and continues to be a colleague on rural development projects in the U.S. and overseas.

So I belatedly realized that not all business students are evil incarnate.  Since then, I’ve encountered dozens of lazy, unethical, greedy folk who make my old business students seem like pikers.

Some even say they love small farmers and want to help them start cooperatives.  In recent years, this seems a go-to position for folks who don’t want to work, just want to jabber about cooperatives and farming and permaculture.  Recently, I handed one a trowel to dig up an onion and she couldn’t do it.  That and other experiences with her showed no evidence she had ever dug in the dirt in her life.  Yet she had the lingo down.  She could talk a blue streak about hugelkulture, biochar and all the other trendy memes of alternative agriculture.

“All hat and no cattle” describes a person who is all talk and no substance; full of big talk but lacking action; a person who cannot back up his/her words; a fake; a pretender–originally used in reference to people imitating the fashion or style of cowboys. These people wore the hats, but had no experience on the ranch — thus, all hat, no cattle. Similar to talking the talk without walking the walk (which was originally used in reference to wannabe gunslingers).

After dealing with a couple  of these folks lately,  I have concluded they are just lazy and  feel entitled to do as they please.  “No lazy hippies at Meadowcreek” is one of our mottoes.  Hard-working hippies are another matter.  You gotta know how to work and know how to play to fit in at Meadowcreek.

Lazy, sloppy people have no place here.  There are so many hard-working people who deserve a chance to learn ecological farming that we can’t waste time and space on the lazy and sloppy.

As we work to increase resilience of our community at Meadowcreek, the most difficult to deal with are those who are gifted with words, but are lazy, entitled and unskilled.  They sometimes convince some who don’t see them in action that they really have something to offer.

Luckily we’ve had a lot of experience with such folk over the years at Meadowcreek.  A bunch of “all hat, no cattle” folks almost sunk Meadowcreek back in the 1980’s.  We learned our lesson.  Unfortunately, sometimes such folk slip in for a bit, but they don’t last.

If you are thinking about coming to Meadowcreek, don’t let the above stop you.  We love to meet new people who are interested in resilience and sustainable agriculture.  Just be prepared to move on if you are “all hat and no cattle.”



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