Of Mindfulness and Manure:-Stacking Bales Podcast Launches
A new podcast approaches self-care and mental health through the lens of caring for livestock and living a rural lifestyle.
“Fear, real kick in the gut fear from sheep caught in fences or cows out on the busy highway, gives me that pure fear response that I sometimes think is weirdly missing from modern life,” says Heather Benson, co-host of the Stacking Bales podcast. “But on the farm, unlike my 2am worries about the collapse of civilization, there is a resolution. I free the stuck sheep and we corral the errant cows. And having that fear cycle run its full course is why I sometimes think farm life allows me to focus more on the everyday, and less anxious about the things I can’t resolve. I always say ‘farm chaos keeps me sane’ and you know, I think I might not be far off.”
It is through these everyday encounters with the chaos of life on their respective farms and ranches that Stacking Bales co-hosts Eliza Blue and Heather Benson share their personal journeys of healing and hope on the wide prairies of the Great Plains. The podcast was born of collaboration for a local public radio show to discuss the first season of the BBC/PBS hit “All Things Great and Small”.
“We each have been storytellers in our own spheres for a long time, but we found such joy in telling farm stories together that we decided we needed an outlet,” says co-host Eliza Blue. “We recorded a short season last year but it wasn’t until this fall we knew what we really wanted to talk about—the intersection of mental health and rural life and how our personal journeys brought us to these rural places, filled with animals and how that has changed our stories, mostly for the better.”
The Stacking Bales podcast derives its name from a discussion featured in the last episode of their first collaboration, the idea that modern life and office jobs rarely deliver a tangible result for a day of labor…unlike the very visible results of a day spent stacking hay bales. They dubbed that modern void of satisfaction “Stacking Bales Syndrome” and built a podcast around the idea that rural lifestyles can bring a joy and fulfilment that might be harder to come by inside city limits.
The first three episodes of the podcast launched January 18 and pair seemingly strange subject matter bedmates as “manure and mindfulness” and “fear, death and deer legs” in way that marries the hilarity and healing that a barn full of animals often provides for those who care for them. “We joke that we are bringing the ‘manure and death’ back to rural lifestyle media,” jokes Eliza Blue, referring to the often sanitized versions of farm life on social media. “We want to tell real stories both of how life really is out here and also how it has helped us grow.”
The Stacking Bales podcast will drop a new episode each Wednesday, available on all major podcasting platforms. It can also be downloaded direct at https://www.stackingbales.buzzsprout.com
About Eliza Blue:
Eliza Blue is a shepherd, storyteller & folk-singer. In addition to being a regular columnist with the Daily Yonder, her weekly column ‘Little Pasture on the Prairie,’ is carried by 17 different print publications, and she is a regular contributor to South Dakota Public Radio and Prairie Public. She also writes and hosts a traveling concert television show, Wish You Were Here’ for PBS. Her byline has appeared in the New York Times and The Guardian.
Her first book of essays, Accidental Rancher, is now available on Amazon.
Former pro chislic judge, current farm blogger and (hopeful) future author, Heather Benson’s official day job is as the Digital Strategy Manager for her home state’s PBS/NPR member station, South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Originally from Menno, SD and currently residing with her daughter on a small farm in Western Minnesota, her official night job is shepherding her herd of Icelandic sheep, tending (an undisclosed number) of chickens and trying to convince her demented turkey Lloyd that he cannot, in fact, marry his favorite basketball.
Her farm stories can be followed at dalarnafarm.com and her first book is due November of 2023.