Rewilding the Herd – Update from the Northwestern Frontier

It’s been roughly a million years since I sat down to write about life on the edge of the wild. What can I say? There is not a lot of time to spend pondering, when you reside primarily in the proverbial thick of things.

Two years ago I moved with my mother, three horses, and a smattering of cats and dogs to our new home in Northern BC on 500 acres of alder and rose bush. I thought I’d keep you all updated on our methodical progress “back to nature”. Or something. I thought I could scout ahead and lay some bread crumbs for those of you who might like to follow. I thought a lot of things.

I realize now what a misnomer “rewilding” was back when I snagged it for this series. In fact, the “herd” part wasn’t right either, unless you take the whole gaggle of us humans, horses, dogs, cats, pigs, goats, chickens and geese (and sometimes ravens) as one giant mad herd. My life with horses has morphed and expanded to one among all sorts of beings, milling about in a perpetual motion matrix of love and war, life and death.

Rewilding, though a handsome term and a romantic one at first glance, has come to mean a lot of things to me, but like all good words it is thoroughly problematic and hardly precise. For one, we do not live in the wild. We live much closer to it, yes, than the vast majority of people, but I cannot allow the pretense that we are somehow living post-domesticity. Though perhaps we might one day fancy ourselves gatekeepers to a wilder place. Perhaps we begin to uncover keys to something larger and stranger and messier than we’d ever like to know.

How can I even begin to tell you what I mean? Or even, what I’ve seen? It blurs together drunkenly as I look back; stories I thought I’d tell you as soon as I had time, but then more stories happened before those stories were written and now it’s all just What Happened, the sharp edges smoothed over and jumbled hopelessly like stones at the confluence of mighty rivers.

My mother was bewitched by seven raven-black, fairy-trickster cows (does this ring a bell, dear readers? Like the 6 new horses making their way into the LTYH herd??), who convinced her to bring them home at great effort and cost. Literally five minutes after they arrived, they departed. Gone through the fence, all seven, with nothing but a single black hair on a barb to prove they were ever there, into the Wayback, the Great Beyond of Bush and Swamp, materializing and dematerializing as we tracked and called and begged them in vain. A month-long story short, they are all home and thriving in the thoroughfare of a pasture we now call Beastly Acres (as there are all sorts of beasts who frequent them).

The cows came and went, and came back, in June. Since then, we have had multiple rounds of piglets lost and found, we have brought a new horse (and some pigs, chickens, and cats) into the herd, we’ve been gifted with endless family visits, we’ve watched the waters sink low with drought and the salmon struggle to finish their journeys, we’ve made haphazard evacuation plans as the wildfire 15 kilometres away grew daily. We have had the best year yet in our garden, we’ve been gifted with divinely perfect fish and moose, we’ve put away so much bounty it’s made our heads spin. Leaves and berries, meat and milk, tubers and fruit and bones and jellies, oh my! We have said goodbye to an aching number of loved ones, two- and four-legged. We have learned and lost and learned and let go.

I feel stretched, and full. I feel ancient and brand new. I am exhausted and invigorated. I know humility and gratitude very, very intimately. I might take a life and save another in the same week, or day. I harden and open at the same time. I learn how arbitrary, and how sacred, every moment and choice can be. I am immersed in love and grief and fear and chaos and sweet, tender goodness on the daily. Gradually it is sinking in that this doesn’t end; we won’t one day arrive and be done. The more I lean in the faster it goes…

Perhaps this is wildness on some level, after all. Perhaps having your heart stretched (as though in some incomprehensible cultural ritual from far away) somehow makes room for something else to nestle in, something you’re not sure you even invited…

I once thought I could tell you how it was, how the horses unfolded themselves into freedom, how our hearts and souls unfurled into the wild woods, how we shook off our human conditioning and dove into the dream. And all that happened, or is in the process of happening. But it turns out wildness isn’t a place, or even a state. It cannot be reached through theory or practice, it cannot be earned or achieved or awarded. No prayer, no meditation, no lifestyle or diet, no cords of wood chopped or gallons of water carried will get you there. No – but in between, when you aren’t watching, it seeps in from the edges, plants its seeds and sets its barbs and lays its eggs deep in your flesh. It will find you lost in the woods or locked up in a concrete condo. It’s everything you fear and everything you long for; majestic and wondrous and messy and weird and very, very alive.

So for now, I am surfacing to wave heartily and let you know how much I appreciate every one of you finding your own wildness as I find mine, whatever shape that takes.

Click here for Part 17 in this series.

Rewilding the Herd – Update from the Northwestern Frontier

26 thoughts on “Rewilding the Herd – Update from the Northwestern Frontier

  • October 22, 2018 at 7:21 am

    ohmygosh Kese – your photos alone are magnificent!! And I never made the connection before between the black cows (and how/why did she decide on 7 of them??) and Kaliah+5!

    I adore your writing because for those brief moments, I am actually THERE. Living, breathing, feeling and being spun around in your perpetual motion matrix. I still think that if you carved out time to write ALL those individual stories one after the other, each flowing into the next until they formed a book, along with your startling, humorous, delicious photos – that it would be a wondrous work of art. I would not only buy the first copy, I would happily pre-order several copies! Just saying 🙂

    • October 22, 2018 at 10:43 pm

      Since the Bull who came with the bunch is so closely related to the two baby heifer calves, we can’t in good conscience allow him to breed them this or next year, and so he has gone on to live a valley over. I visited him today and he is apparently a super cool cucumber man who is already loved and appreciated by his new people. He was also bred to our dear friends’ Jersey cow, Hazel, so she could have a smaller baby next year. We were always open to being just a touch point for the cows, who needed to get out of their old home ASAP. We were so confused by why they had so insistently made themselves Our Cows but were open to whatever their plan was. Anyway, I say all that as I realized that we have 6 cows now, which makes a herd of 11 here as well if the cows get to count as horses! That number will change with harvest and next year’s births but it will be interesting to see where it ends up….

      And yes, believe me I know! I am jutting out my elbows to make some room for writing – in the mean time, I feel like my photos are notes to go back to, which is why I have begun taking them even more obsessively. Most likely I won’t write all the stories here, as there comes a point where we need to get back to the actual horses (haha), and oddly enough they haven’t figured very heavily in the story-making activities yet. My mom and I have talked about children’s stories too one day, if we could find the perfect illustrator…

      SO much creativity happening and the trick is to grab its tail on its way round and round and round, like Bowie and Beazie rampaging madly trying to pull the other into combat… gotta love it.

      • October 23, 2018 at 5:08 am

        SO interesting – the key thing being that in the Year of the 11 Portal (2018) you have a herd of 11!!! Although if we add in all your pigs, chickens, goats… perhaps that would be 111 🙂

        • October 23, 2018 at 5:12 am

          So THAT’S what 11 is about… yes I’m sure we hit 111 at some point this year 😂

  • October 22, 2018 at 11:04 am

    I feel the same as Jini. I love your writing, and especially the mind behind it! I am one of your biggest fans and I hope to enjoy your thoughts for a very long time <3

    • October 22, 2018 at 10:46 pm

      Well jeez that’s lovely of you, Capucine. It’s such a pleasure to write for such a multi-talented, compassionate, and thoroughly intelligent audience… if you guys enjoy it, I know I’m doing something right! <3 <3 <3

  • October 22, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Wow! That’s so cool about the cows. How long were they gone? I am fascinated by that place of transcendence where come back from having shucked off all bonds of captivity and come back into the realization that no matter that it is flawed, we need this complex civilization of all sorts of beings in all sorts of life stages. Those cows got the chance to say “the hell with it, we’re outta here,” learn, and then accept that maybe they did need you after all. And it’s amazing they were provided with that chance. I think we all need to ride that wave that brings us down out of the comfortable pools at that beginning of the river, through all its rapids and shallows and murky places, to arrive at the delta where we choose one of a thousand ways, and then emerge into the ocean ready for it’s freedom and wildness and magnificence. I think there must be different types of wildness, for we are wild when we come into this world, are domesticated, and then some of us wake up and say, “No, this is not what the world holds for me. I will do it differently.”

    • October 22, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      I love your imagery, Evie, and maybe we return to that delta over and over again. I’m also reminded by your words of the idea of innocence to experience and back to innocence, or “earned or informed innocence” as we learn and integrate what it means to be human. Maybe the same can be said for wildness to domesticity, and then to a chosen wildness, or a wildness informed by our domesticated selves…

      The cows were gone nearly a month! But not gone-gone… they gravitated to our neighbours’ field within a few days, where there was open pasture, woods for shelter, and more importantly SALT LICKS. Yum. So though they were incredibly flightly, like you say here they did prefer the comforts of recognizable, humanized landscapes. Since both of us were fenced for horses, and they are particularly small, particularly wily cows (Dexters), nothing could really keep them in or out. And when the neighbours (lifelong ranchers) went to round them up, the cows just faded into the swampy forest where the horses couldn’t follow every time. Eventually they lured them into their corrals and brought them over…and promptly (and rightly) scolded us for being so green about cows! Meanwhile our fences were busy being expanded and Dexter-proofed (a massive and expensive job that might never have been done had we not had this crazy situation), so the cows spent a couple weeks close to us in the barn yard and got a lot more interested in us… they now come pretty well to a bucket of feed and I am hoping to interact with them a lot more over the winter.

      But yes, now they know “where home is”, and like most domesticated animals (and many wild ones), they prefer to stay within their realm of comfort and predictability rather than give themselves over to the wilds out of principle alone.

      Did you have your own “wake up point”? I don’t know if I did or if like some of my critter friends I just never really saw the point of getting all-the-way domesticated (and was lucky enough to have some choice in the matter)…

      • October 23, 2018 at 5:18 am

        I find this very interesting:

        “like most domesticated animals (and many wild ones), they prefer to stay within their realm of comfort and predictability rather than give themselves over to the wilds out of principle alone.”

        since I have been thinking about this concept lately. And this line of thinking can also get triggered by certain key events – like watching The Revenant! Much as I love, revere, and appreciate Nature. There are times when Nature scares the shit out of me, beats me up, or bitch-slaps me and then I think, “Ah, THIS is why humanity moved to create cities. To seek to finally take control over Nature and NOT be at her mercy or whims.”

        I know the idea is to work together WITH Nature, to work in flow with what already wants to happen – in order to decrease resistance and adverse events… but. There seems to always come times or points where things are just completely out of my control and then Nature can be so very unpleasant, and uncertain, and harsh, and aggressive, painful and uncomfortable – and just so much hard goddamn work.

        So even though we revere WILD and we revere NATURE, it’s interesting that even the animals, when given a choice, are choosing domesticity, comfort, assured food supply, over wild. Perhaps in reaction to our current environmental disaster we are swinging too far the other way… and the ideal place, the win-win, lies somewhere more in the middle…?

        • October 23, 2018 at 6:02 am

          So many thoughts on this!

          1) Seems like an evolutionary/biological imperative to move towards comfort and efficicency or ease… we are wired for it, like we are wired to seek sugar/fat/salt as indicators of nutrient density. The evolutionary point is that these comforts and densities are RARE, and therefore precious, and might make or break survival/thrive-ability. What creates imbalance is tipping the scales so far in the favour of comfort that it’s no longer an indicator of something actually wholesome and safe/good/necessary.

          2) The Revenant is a human-centric depiction designed to make you feel like nature is scary! (I haven’t seen it) But just like Jaws made people so afraid of sharks that now there needs to be an international shark week to dispel those myths, the powerful visual storytelling etches itself in your nervous system like it actually happened to you…

          3) I find cities also “so very unpleasant, and uncertain, and harsh, and aggressive, painful and uncomfortable – and just so much hard goddamn work.” When you think of the trade-off, we are still working just as hard to survive, except now we have illness and mental illness and traffic and crime and weird laws and jerks and too many lights and constant pressure and high costs of living and angst about the environment and the climate and politics and the physical costs of being removed from dirt, stars, good air, clean water etc etc etc to make up for all that nasty cold, rain, thorns and claws.

          4) Animals don’t live so much at the mercy of “nature” or “the wild”, I don’t think – they form family groups and/or carve out distinct territories or niches in which they operate, know intimately, and manage extensively in their own favour. And for all that it truly is awful (and common) to starve to death or be eaten alive, it’s not like equally abhorrant fates don’t befall those in captivity/domesticity/urban environments…we just cover it up really well (think commercial meat industry, hidden slave labour for our goods, slow death by civilization-wrought disease, etc etc).

          5) Humans that live or have lived in concert with nature, or as part of it, or alongside/in partnership with it, do not necessarily experience it as uncomfortable. If you’re super fit, hiking is fun; if you’re not, it’s torturous. If you know how to track/hunt/gather/make shelter, a night or two out on the land is an adventure; if you don’t, it’s terrifying. I believe our biology has expressed itself differently too – as in, we are far more uncomfortable in motion, in the cold, on hard surfaces – since we have unlearned how to be part of things. It’s also pretty climate-dependant… maybe it’s more uncomfortable being “wild” in the arctic than in the tropics… or maybe not, if you’re adapted to where you are!

          6) Yes there is a balance, I assume, but it’s been so long since the majority of the human world lived within that balance that we don’t really know what that looks like, if it’s even possible with 7+ billion of us, and whether or not we can mitigate climate disaster even if we were to stop all our nonsense right now.

          Basically… I think it’s completely relative. We are used to our comforts and so we depend on them, and don’t willingly choose discomfort very easily. I think that’s totally normal and animal and fine. But you could hold some room for the beings we once were, the beings we might remember how to be (or might not necessarily ever have to become, given that we are all products of our environments), if given the time/space/incentive. But I don’t think we need to uphold or romanticize some other way of being and imagine that we are lesser than… we simply have had no reason to rise to an occasion that isn’t there.

          Oh, AND, animals might choose assured food, warmth and comfort over “the wild”, but they don’t usually choose losing their physical autonomy or being restrained and confined… they don’t usually choose to be controlled, separated, touched a lot, or abused. We tend to take that as “payment” for the comforts we provide.

          (Sorry Evie for going off on a tangent, feel free to jump in!)

          • October 24, 2018 at 12:05 am

            On biological imperative — Yes, of course we gravitate toward domesticity and greater and greater ease! It’s less nutrient- and energy-intensive, as well as better (to an extent) for reproductive success. And yes, it’s a delicate balance. We made the choice to stop hunting/foraging as a species and lost our leisure time but gained food security in farming/pastoralism.

            Cities are the worst, most terrible places I can think of or imagine. They are LOUD and dirty and scary and terrible — as is the very deepmost woods or desert. I need balance. We all need balance.

            What we are doing to the earth is so very sad — plastic oceans, extinctions, the animals we love trapped in unending torture. But it, like everything, is but one point on a pendulum. We have been coming out of an ice age, they say the fastest ever, but we have so little data from deep time. We think we know, but we don’t know.

            And isn’t that the summarizing comment about human intelligence? “We think we know, but we don’t know?”

            I’ve been thinking/researching extensively about the orca, one of my favourite animals, lately. Before they were entrenched in captivity and the entertainment industry, which comes with its well-known horrors and challenges, the orca was considered a vicious plague on humankind, and were reviled, hunted for sport, and even used as bomber practice by Air Force pilots. The man who first captured and kept an orca in captivity is simultaneously the turning point from orca as ocean-terror a la Jaws to cuddly, intelligent, familiar. He made the entertainment industry seek to capture wild orcas, ripping them from their families and environments and subjugating them to boredom, human control, and food deprivation. Were the orcas better off a species when they were reviled, shot and bombed for fun, and the human race sought to exterminate them all as beings of no intelligence or value? No, clearly not. And the orcas are arguably no better off as a species now that they have been captured onto the endangered species list and interbred among distinct echotypes? No, they aren’t, but in a different way.

            I think we like to think that nature was once idyllic and peaceful and perfectly in balance, just like we like to think that our animals are happy or that native tribes had everything figured out. In the beginning of the Paleozoic, there were no predators. Then predators evolved to eat other beings. Nature has always been “cruel” and beautiful at the same time. I’m not sure we actually know what “balance is;” just what we at our point in evolution/awakening/deltaspace see as the ideal.

            And yes, when I was a slave in the Air Force I felt just like Zorra in dressage training. Then I found this blog. That was my “wake-up call” and the beginning of rewilding myself.

            • October 24, 2018 at 3:06 am

              Well, aren’t we just having ourselves a helluva good discussion here!! SO many good points from both of you – I could just sit here quoting piece after piece that I love!

              So… instead I’m just gonna skip ahead and bring it all back home to my wee personal experience and realizing that YES, discomfort is my achilles heel. It is THE thing I strive to avoid. Not pain. I’ve got that handled. But the incessant annoying-as-fuck discomfort of (for example) a plant or fur allergic reaction. An air conditioner. A synthetic off-gassing memory foam bed, COLD, wet cold feet, smog and artificial air in cities, on airplanes, etc etc.

              And WHAT does that have to do with this discussion? As Kesia pointed out, it highlights where my fluency lies, and does not. The ‘city’ discomforts I mentioned, I know how to mitigate or avoid. But the ‘nature’ discomforts, not so much.

              I think this is one of the roots of our disconnection and the incredible damage we’re doing to the planet – as Evie pointed out, we don’t protect what we don’t LOVE.

              I’ve had two lots of city kids come out to my 30 acres (in the middle of the city) and both groups were seriously afraid of all kinds of things. Similar to when Zorra first arrived, they didn’t even know how to WALK across a field full of holes and half-buried rocks without tripping. But my point is, their knee-jerk reaction wasn’t curiosity, it was fear. The fear needed to be supported, educated, cosseted until the kids could move past that into wonder or experience or play or any kind of comfortable relationship with the natural world.

              For myself, I’m going to start setting myself ‘nature goals’. My first goal is to figure out how to SLEEP in a tent. Because I have not been able to do that since I was 15. My last attempt a couple years ago at the Equinisity retreat resulted in me being wide awake until 4 am for three days running – because the land/nature is so damn active, alive, noisy and energetically loud!! The coyotes were howling, the horses were snoring, the earth was pouring energy into me, there was a light show in my tent (not outside, just IN my tent) one night, AND it was freezing cold.

              So yeah, I think I’m going to start by taking myself off alone – with just me doggies – and sleeping in the back of my truck (I bought a truck tent). Perhaps that will slow down the energy pouring up out of the earth and I can start there. And maybe I will only go an hour away so if I hate it, I can come home! There, see, no pressure!

              And yes, Evie, I think you summed it up when you said, “Nature has always been cruel and beautiful a the same time.” xox

              • October 24, 2018 at 3:42 am

                Jini, I love the nature goals concept! A truck tent sounds like a great in-between, with dear Marvin the Truck as a bit of a buffer between the unknown and you. That is so interesting, your hatred of discomfort, but it makes good sense. And of course, you can learn to mitigate those discomforts you don’t know as well but not until you face them! I friggin hate mosquitoes more than anthing, but living amongst them for a season every year, I have – despite my enduring fear and hatred – started to adapt to the bites, so that they aren’t nearly as awful and they go away much faster. Similarly, I was bitten 6 times by wasps this year and with a dose of homeopathic histomynum they just kind of faded away. Also, being so tired you don’t give a single fuck anymore helps neutralize the smaller discomforts!! Hahaha.

                And yes, this is a Top Notch conversation, I have been mulling on it since last night!

                Funny, because after adapting to cabin life, wood heat, serious cold nights, waking up with the light, true darkness (except for at the full moon, Jesus H Christ!), sound of hoofbeats… I could barely sleep in the city with central heating (feels way different from wood heat, and doesn’t die off through the night), LED and street lights everywhere, traffic and siren sounds, building/heating/fan sounds, human neighbours, zero dogs in the bed… Gradually I feel like I am integrating it all so that I can be comfortable in both worlds… but I can’t keep my Zen for more than 5 days in the city before am wild-eyed and begging to get back!

                Evie – so much good stuff you bring up…you’ve clearly thought a lot about this stuff too! When you mentioned the orcas, my brain did a double-take – my main dog buddy is named Orca, which she carried from birth because she came out of her mama looking like a tiny little killer whale (now is lanky, spotty, and totally non-whale-like), and it only just occurred to me the other day that she might well have a message relating to her namesake. She’s been really unwell from a very mysterious tumor (which got me thinking about the toxic load orca whales carry), but through that illness she has been taking me to school on the finer details of how to live in freedom AND domesticity with her, ie how to respect maximum autonomy and consent, and her own wild nature and eccentricities, while still living side by side in a way that works for both of us… which now from what you have mentioned makes me wonder even more about the Orca-orca connection. Like you said, we need to be close to/identify with beings in order to care about them – and so sometimes I feel that domestic animals are playing a long-game to nudge us onto a different track…

                On that note, have you seen Black Fish? It’s incredibly scathing and revealing of the orca industry. I remember watching it and thinking, the world is not ready to see this film made with horses as the subject, but maybe one day they will be.

                I didn’t realize that your break with the military and your discovery of this blog were so deeply linked! That is amazing and touching and just wow. You must have been so, so ready to wake up and get yourself to safety…

                As for balance, I think we can model it in the lives we carve out for our own beloved animal friends and teachers. Enough wildness that your full animal self can be satisfied, enough comfort that you stay in good health and have access to a few luxuries when you really want them, and enough freedom in both regards that all your individual strangeness and wonderfulness has a chance to fully bloom and be recognized. As their steward, I try to keep an eye on that balance and do my best to adjust it in the right direction when I need to, without over-manipulating anything too much… it’s tricky but…starting to feel do-able.

                • October 24, 2018 at 6:44 pm

                  That’s so funny! I always find it 10x easier to sleep outside, especially on a boat. I love the energy of saltwater and cold night flowing into me. The trick is to stay warm — sleeping bag on a thick sleeping pad, blankets, wool sock,s jammies, and another blanket for my shoulders is key because I get cold so easily (My body temperature is a very steady 97.6*).

                  I personally find pain to my greatest weakness — physical and emotional. I’m good with discomfort, at least to a degree. I can distract myself from discomfort, by counting blessings or telling myself stories, or even just telling myself it will end. But I. Cannot. Deal. With. Pain.

                  I LOVED Blackfish and cannot wait to have the world begin to see other animals in the same light. The book “Death at Seaworld” is really good at pointing out the differences between life in the Puget Sound and life in a tank. Scientist after scientist studies orcas finds they cannot maintain emotional distance. They fall in love. The orca is the only animal we have kept in captivity and studied that will deliberately refuse operant conditioning, and even turn it back on the scientists. We humans have this deep need for control which is balanced by this deep admiration (in healthy psyches) for what refuses or control.

                  Orca is an amazing dog from what I see on IG. How amazing to have such a guide. Orcas were called by many First Nations the “wolves of the sea!”

                  “As their steward, I try to keep an eye on that balance and do my best to adjust it in the right direction when I need to, without over-manipulating anything too much…” Yes! I mean we can look at what happened in Yellowstone as a great example of how we don’t understand the natural rhythms and balance of nature, and so we do not understand how to manage it.

                  Yes, I call the military my time in captivity… I now have this deep and visceral empathy with all beings in that position.

                  The animals in captivity argument is complex… I was watching a documentary on working horses the other day and they brought up that the advent of the tractor in farm work almost made the Shire go extinct. That was so sad and shocking to me. I LOVE draft horses. It has been my experience with all the domestic animals I have personally worked with that the bigger the breed the sweeter the personality. My Flemish Giant is the most amazing rabbit. We have a duty to do our best by those in our care, whatever the species, but we also consume them and use them for work. Balance. It isn’t fair to not keep pets and farm animals because they don’t deserve to die out after we have bred them not to survive without us, but we also need to be kind to them and understand them.

                  Anyway, thank you so much for carrying this conversation with me. It’s lovely to have people to talk about this with.

                  • October 28, 2018 at 3:52 am

                    I did not know that orcas “deliberately refuse operant conditioning, and even turn it back on the scientists” – but makes perfect sense! You’re very right that we need these animal beings who fly in the face of our presumptuous dominance and manipulation…

                    As for Yellowstone…if you want a different and really cool example of such things, check out Wilding by Isabella Tree. She and her husband took 3500 acres outside of London and reverted it to some version of wilderness with the introduction of grazing animals and many other interesting experiments! They have challenged so many theories and beliefs within the ecological sciences and the project is just generally fascinating…

                    I haven’t been a captive and in fact was so wired against it that as a little one, when I imagined myself as a “normal” adult with a 9 to 5 suburban life (and the inherent domesticity, complicity, captivity that symbolized to me) I couldn’t – I always ended up dead in those dreams. I have always been very sensitive to being controlled (ask my parents, hahaha) and have actually had to tone it down as I realize I am probably acting out ancestral/past life stuff… So I empathize from that other end, the fight-to-the-death they’ll-never-take-our-freeedddommmm end…

                    “You are responsible always for that which you have tamed”… I think we all feel that way around here, but if in that relationship we can help reinstate someone’s wildness or true nature and restore their autonomy… that’s the ticket…

                    And yes, I am forever delighted by the nuanced conversations we can have in this community – explorational, between-the-lines, gray area kind of conversations… <3

  • October 22, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    I love your visceral writing and visiceral experiences; thank you Kesia for such personal expression, such exquisite description.
    I too feel taken there, spirited to Northern BC and your existences and am full of admiration for your exploration of wildness…
    Much love, R xx

    • October 22, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      Much love right back, Rachel! Glad I could bring some of you with me; I don’t have much time or space to get lonely but I sure wish I could share it all with everyone sometimes!

  • October 24, 2018 at 12:43 am

    Kesia… I love the life you and your mom have chosen and I love reading about it. And as much as I think I could live ‘in the wilderness’..I smile and shake my head. As my dear hubby says..”I am too needy” . Thank you so much for sharing your life with your dedicated followers. 💕 =-)

    • October 24, 2018 at 3:48 am

      Deb – see long thread above for a bunch of us mulling over this very tension between comfort and what we think of as wildness! I am needy too, but for green in my sightline and untouched landscapes and smoke curling out of the chimney and the crunch of hooves on snow and early nights and home-grown, home-cooked food. It all feels extraordinarily luxurious to me…but of course takes some work and discomfort to achieve! I mean, we have running water and fridges and indoor toilets and everything, haha…absolute luxury!

      Thanks so much for reading, living all this is so much more fun with people like you to share it with <3

  • October 26, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Wonderful post, wonderful discussion and a reminder to me of the privilege inherent in
    being able to experience the world and her other denizens physically, emotionally and spiritually in a not so common way.

    • October 28, 2018 at 3:40 am

      A thousand times yes!! Such deep and incredible and magical privilege to do just as you define so beautifully here. I am shocked and appalled at my good fortune on the daily…

  • October 27, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Hi Kesia
    Thanks for the link through facebook. I have been transported and stimulated this morning from the comfort of my warm bed!

    People need to hear your story, it relates to everyone and everything, especially as we speed towards an ever increasing artificial, stale, polluted world.

    I have worked with many lost souls, especially children who are so detached from what life is really about and I have wanted to remove them from their toxic environment, toxic education system and troubled backgrounds and the poisons that they take to numb themselves in order to not have to think and ask questions, to be able to take them to a place where life speaks for itself. To be able to give them a meaningful task, where you can see the results of your labours. Instead of being told you are not good enough because you can’t memorise unnecessary facts and figures, completely unrelated to their everyday lifes. Life doesn’t really care about these things, it cares about your actions and I can’t blame children when they don’t care about them either. We are taught to observe and to memorise, no real action required, we are taught to be helpless, this is death in the wild and a slow death to our souls.

    The sheer scale of the problem and me feeling so helpless to be able to make significant change to many people I worked with led me to leave that area of work. It was the environment and system that needed changing which was too much for one person.

    I had a crisis and I needed to take some kind of action where I could see the result, to cure my helplessness. I started building (in the wilds of the bottom of the garden, ha ha) and I felt alive, I could see where my energy was going for a change.

    We need to be builders and stewards if we are ever going to be able to live in some kind of balance with the world. The life you are building out there on the edge of what we call ‘civilization’ is inspiring and needs to be shared. Thank you.

    • October 27, 2018 at 11:12 pm

      omg Robin, yes, yes and YES!!! To everything you wrote here! Even though my own kids have been ‘successful’ at school, I have tried to get them to quit the system and Unschool for over a decade. Unfortunately, they refuse – they like the social aspect too much 😉

      But how about setting up a place (with grant funding) where you could bring/host those kids – a place like Kesia’s farm? OR just setting up the program and running it with partner farms owned by people like Kesia who SO get what you’re saying and would love to support that kind of life-giving, life-expanding education?

      • October 28, 2018 at 3:39 am

        Hi Robin! So good to hear from you…

        I’ve also worked with and known a lot of lost souls, or souls on their way to being lost… I have definitely learned that I can’t necessarily help, fix, or even know what’s best or what’s possible for other people, and frontline work is usually so throttled by bureaucracy and policy that it can be hard to bring your whole self to the table… but I do agree with both you and Jini, that we need more opportunities for all people to connect, recharge, & remember, however that ends up looking.

        I know a lot of my worries and anxieties have changed or disappeared since living a little closer to the heartbeat of things. There is this simplification that our poor little brains and heart are screaming for, where so much of the chatter and madness just gets swept away by the wind, the water, the land, the goats. I’m glad to hear the building has brought you back into yourself. Sometimes all it takes is something real, watching something unfold before your own eyes and hands…

        Looking forward to seeing you up here one day soon! We will scheme and build and eat delicious things.

  • October 28, 2018 at 11:33 am

    You should sell a ‘rewilding’ experience, or retreat (with comfortable beds). Your photos and prose would sell the idea. You could teach Aikido, Yoga? (When your not knackered). Then get people involved with the animals and the environment. I know Tim has spoken of tourist ideas, building cabins etc.

    I’m happy back working with adults with learning disabilities, they are inherently happy with simplicity but deserve a lot more opportunity. They would love to get more involved in nature but it is very difficult and funding is really tight. Theres a farm with a cafe nearby and they charge £6 to feed the animals, then £6 for the carer to support them completely outrageous.

    With the right supervision you could potential get a willing work force who would like to get involved just for the experience, (nothing too taxing though)

    Regarding education, some people love studying for studyings sake, that’s fine we need a few academics but we don’t need an army of them. We live in a society where a degree (costing probably £40000 worth of debt in England nowadays) is valued more than the ability to look after ourselves. The ability to fix things, cook, grow our own food, maintain our houses (if we ever afford to buy one). We are not taught life skills, which on the whole is what its all about really.


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