“We abuse the land because we regard it as a community belonging to us. When we see the land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~ Aldo Leopold
I sort of chuckled to myself yesterday as I turned to admire my freshly mowed grass... It more resembled a freshly mowed hayfield that needed baling than a lawn. It has looked this way the whole Summer... a strong indicator that we have other priorities...
We have been so busy with visitors, parties, dinners, get-togethers at the lake, and traveling I haven't made time to write since...August 4th! Are you kidding me! Just where does the time go.
This past (long) weekend the whole world melted away as we drove deeper and deeper into Canada - to a very special place called RUZICKA SUNRISE FARM.
We have visited Don and Marie twice before. Once in November 2006, and again when I was 7 months pregnant with Astrid in April 2008. we were especially looking forward to this trip since it was the first time we would be up there during the Summer (with the farm in full swing).
This trip with Astrid was even more amazing than I could have dreamed it would be, starting with the 10 hour car trip. She only slept for a half hour but was contented with books, toys, and of course, 4 or 5 small duckies. The kid is a dream traveler.
When we arrived we discovered that Marie had checked out 30 books from the Killam Community Library. She had pulled a whole bunch of toys (mostly farm oriented) from the 80s out of the cellar. (I can't believe I didn't get a photo of the little barn with the door that moos when you open it! I totally remember that from my childhood. From Grammy Madge's house, I think) She had borrowed a portable crib for the house for Astrid to nap in, and had a booster seat all ready for Astrid's little buns to sit in at the table. She thought of everything...
It was wonderful to spend time with Don and Marie and see the farm, but it was doubly enjoyable for me to experience it through my child's eyes. Just as in our daily lives here in Missoula, having a child sort of gives you permission to enjoy it as if you were a child.
I love this photo I happened to snap of Astrid watching the hogs. So mesmerized...not quite knowing what to do with her hands, held out from her body apparently for balance while in her pig-trance. I was in a pig-trance, too. They were my favorites to watch.
We were too late for the chickens, but there were some laying hens on the farm. Astrid had fun collecting the eggs each day.
My trusty assistant & favorite subject drove around on the quad with me one afternoon to take photographs.
watching those curious piggies again!
after a long day at the farm...
Don & Marie's Farm (the only Organic Farm in the county) was featured in the Beaver County Bounty self-guided driving tour of area farms and gardens. They came in droves to find out more about Don & Marie's organic farming model. It was so cool to see all the kids who came along, too. Jeff accompanied Don on all the tours, even drove an extra truck (with folks in the back of the pickup) for one or two of the tours.
After one of the tours these three kids were waiting for their parents to finish talking. They discovered the only kitten in the barnyard could be caught. Check out the boy on the left in each picture. Can you tell that he was hoping for his turn holding the kitten?
I realize I took about a million photographs of my little Astrid, but it was a complete playground for me. The backdrop was rich, full of LIFE, and I simply couldn't help myself.
Firsts. Astrid rode her first horse last weekend. Snowball seemed like a perfect choice for a first ride, since she is over thirty years old and has plenty of experience. Snowball's owner, 9-year old Halle (a cousin of the Ruzicka's) showed her the ropes.
Information on Don and Marie's farming practices and their roles as stewards of their land can be found on their website I designed for them a few years ago. It continues to amaze me the passion Don has for this way of farming. I would love to tell you all about it, in my own words, but I'm sure I won't get all the important details, so go to this site.
I did want to add one thing, though. This is BRILLIANT. Don's hog pens double as a fertilizer for the land. He moves the pens twice a day. Can you see the swath of land that is left behind the pens as the hogs do their work of rooting, and rolling and pooing and having a grand ol' time?
In this photo you can see the wide green line of grass. This is growth since June. I think the fertilizer works like magic.
the welcoming commitee
Here are a few more photos of Marie's handy work. I'm convinced that she is the most amazing cook on the planet. She made a birthday cake complete with ducky candles (an instant hit with Astralita). She hung balloons and decorations and even altered the napkins!
The first time we visited we wanted to surprise Don and Marie with some sushi rolls. We brought nori and some wasabi from Missoula then gathered the rest of what we needed in nearby Camrose. They enjoyed it so much that we made it again this trip.
There was lots of reading...
following (like a little duckling).
and always that sense of wonder...
We are inspired with our spirits and souls refueled. Jeff's even talking about getting a couple laying hens. Who knows what the future holds.
Here is a sildeshow of the above images plus a few more: