When I was in college, my roommate got me “The Little Book of Stress” by Rohan Candappa. It really is a little tiny book, and on its angry red cover are the words “Calm is for wimps. Get real. Get stressed.” That was my mantra for many years. I did well all through school, but I was often stressed out. To this day, my stress dreams always involve being in college and panicking because I haven’t studied for the test I’m about to take, or I don’t know where my classes are on the first day, or I haven’t written the paper that’s due in five minutes. I’m feeling a little anxious just thinking about it.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book: “Every cloud doesn’t have a silver lining. Don’t fall for this drivel. It’s just deeply unscientific propaganda put out by optimists. In fact, it’s more likely that every cloud has a lead lining, which means all our reservoirs are full of poisoned water.” Cheerful, no?

These days I try to be less pessimistic and less stressed. In a business governed by deadlines, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes it helps to put things in perspective and remember that it could always be worse. For instance, I nearly got run over by some escaped sheep at Ag Progress Days this year. Sitting in front of my computer seems much safer and calmer after that, no matter how hectic things get.

Speaking of four-legged stress-causers, here’s another thing I’m glad I don’t often run the risk of encountering: Recently, a pile of goat manure spontaneously combusted in Windsor, Vt. Fortunately, there was no damage and no one was hurt, though the atmosphere was apparently a bit smelly.

There are a plethora of things that can go wrong and cause you to tear your hair out. While you can’t prevent every potential stressor in your life and work – or predict them either – it’s important to take steps to reduce stress where you can.

This can extend to minimizing stress in your crops – because if your plants are stressed, they’re going to produce poorly or not at all, or be plagued with disease and pests, and that’s certainly not going to lead to a tranquil season for you. Avoid large piles of caprine dung and work to make life easier for your crops so they make life easier for you. Turn to page 6 to read about how you can reduce stress in the nut orchard.

Stephanie Peake

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