I recently visited a farm community that has been labeled as a cult. I know of them because they have a restaurant in town that offers delicious organic locally grown ingredients in thoughtfully prepared meals. I thought it would be fun to take the kids to visit the farm animals.
It was a beautiful sunny summer afternoon. When we arrived we saw a group walking towards us smiling. There was a mature heavyset man with a beard (men who are married wear beards) and three boys all wearing jeans and plaid shirts. Their hair was about chin length and tired back in a ponytail. We introduced ourselves and asked if we could have a tour of the farm. The adult man welcomed us and said he would go find someone who knows about the farm animals.
A few minutes later a happy young fair-haired clean-shaven man eagerly approached us. He was dressed in the same uniform as the other males. To begin the tour, he pointed out the young turkeys beside us who were being raised by a chicken mother. One couldn’t identify, yet, that they were different species bonding as a family because the chicks were only a couple of weeks old.
He told us he had been on the farm for 10 months, “not long” he said, and that he had come from New York. I quietly wondered how this young man from New York landed on a 140-acre farm in the West Kootenays of BC, Canada.
As the clean-shaven young man led us to the goat pen he told us the farm was only 12 years old. All the rolling pastures were once bush and had all been cleared for the livestock to graze. We entered the goat pen and immediately found ourselves laughing. These newborn triplets were very curious and mischievous. They tried suckling our fingers, eating whatever they could find in my purse and then persistently followed us out of the pen, which required a human feat of lightning bolt reflexes to not close the pen door on them.
Finally, he showed us the prize of the farm, a beautiful 2 week old, wide eyed long eye-lashed flaxen calf. She slowly rose from her nap and let us all stroke her. Then the lunch bell rang and we were invited to join in. We happily accepted.
We walked to the dining hall where the women greeted us. They were dressed in traditional garb, long hair tied back with bonnets and long simple dresses down to their ankles. They brought us sandwiches and fresh goat milk and we all talked while we ate a heavenly fresh organic lunch.
The eldest woman of the group explained that she is homeschooling two teenage girls and one of them is her daughter. She told us how she had been a cook for most of her time with the community before homeschooling the girls. Then she recollected a story about reading a passage from the Bible while homeschooling. I braced myself in preparation for some heavy-handed dogma. I new this dreamy place was too good to be true. But it didn’t happen. She simply explained with a light-hearted chuckle that the passage from the Bible was on the act of complaining. Her four-year old pupil responded that she would never complain but her mom sure complains a lot.
By now lunch was complete and they insisted on not receiving any payment, as there is always plenty of food. Some younger children came by with handfuls of fresh picked cherries for us. One of the teenage girls from lunch gave me the phone number for the farm in case I wanted to buy one of the goats for $50. I admit I was tempted and visualized how we could set her up in our back yard with the dogs in our in-town home.
As we drove away from the charming farm house and brilliant green pastures we reflected on how kind, serene and happy everyone was. Was it just a false front for us visitors? How could the women be happy living in a heavily patriarchal community? Perhaps living a life with firm boundaries leads to a stress free lifestyle and allows for an open connection to nature? I don’t know the answer, but I know the community eats good food and were really nice and welcoming on that sunny summer afternoon.
Now this is a far cry from the typical urbanite lifestyle. While there are many attributes to how this community lives, it is not perfect, especially the patriarcarcal ideology that they live by. But can we not take elements of this lifestyle and apply it in small doses to our own ways of living? For me, I really believe in eating organic, non-GMO and local ingredients. So I take from this experience that eating freshly sourced food is conducive to a happy and healthy life. How can you make small changes in your lifestyle to be happier and healthier?