Laziness as a Survival Skill


My readers will have noted that I frequently comment I am lazy. Being lazy doesn’t mean I don’t do any work; it means I try to minimize effort in everything I do. It also makes me efficient — if you are lazy, you will take one step instead of two and will constantly look for the quickest, easiest way to accomplish your tasks. If water takes the path of least resistance, why shouldn’t I? In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that being lazy is actually a survival skill. Nor is it confined to humans.

We have several colonies of acorn woodpeckers on our property. These sociable little birds are unusual in that they not only live in colonies; they establish group families to care for the nestlings. In some cases, nestlings in one nest will have multiple fathers and females who are not nesting will bring food to the nest. They are very industrious, constantly drilling holes in wood of any sort to store their acorns. Some of them will bring a second acorn and tap in it on top of the first. In a tree, that might work quite well, but in a board, the woodpecker actually drills a hole in the wood, taps in the first acorn, and shortly thereafter (or perhaps it’s another woodpecker) taps in a second acorn that pushes the first right through and onto the ground. The ground squirrels — opportunists all — hang around the building and promptly snag the fallen acorn to eat it or carry it off to storage. The squirrels don’t have to work at all for their food and are nearly always fat and sleek on acorns provided by the industrious woodpeckers.

The restless, twitchy animal is the one that doesn’t put on weight. It’s the placid, slow-moving cow or pig that gains. Raccoons and foxes will happily eat your chickens in preference to something they have to chase. A bear would rather dig through the camp garbage pile than forage. I used to have a mare who preferred to lie down in the middle of her hay pile to eat. She was always an “easy keeper.” Frogs wait for an insect to come to them. So do spiders. Vultures/turkey buzzards don’t hunt or kill their food. They just hang around waiting for something else to do the hard work or for a critter to die on its own — oh, and for road kill. You never hear anyone bemoaning the fact that we have too few buzzards…

Let’s hear it for laziness!

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