What is a Modern Farmer

Two years ago, I was hit with a powerful waterfall of emotions and tears as I blurted out I wanted to be a Modern Farmer, in the last hour of the last day of a Sonia Choquette six-sensory workshop. A Modern Farmer, what the heck does that mean?!! Aside from the magazine of the same name, I was very unclear about where this explosion of feelings came from, and laughed and scoffed the entire way home, no way could I be a modern farmer, oh the audacity!

Truth be told, once I uttered those words, I felt as if I had been hit by lightning; the spark had been lit but I had no idea what to do with it. A modern farmer, you say!? Oh stop.

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Moments after declaring my Modern Farming ambitions

I did spend the first few years of my life on a dairy farm in Huntley, Illinois, although I have little-to-no-memory of it. But now that both my parents were dead, the pull to be in the country was strong, much to my chagrin. I fought it, dug my heels in, as I really believed I was supposed to be in Chicago. I was a Big City Gal, in fact, I was afraid of the country and all its creatures that go boo in the night; the wide open spaces made me terribly nervous. Give me a deserted city street at midnight any time over a quiet country, star-lit night. Once while house-sitting for my brother and his wife in Hebron, Illinois, I called 911 because I heard noises and was certain I was about to be terrorized. After a brief inspection, the policemen said to me, “do you realize that’s the wind?”

I called the cops on the wind.

There had been such tremendous and rapid loss at this point in my life; jobs, addresses, jewelry, my truck — my mom — and through all this I could feel the magnetic pull back to the country. Or maybe it was fear? Or, I know, it was shame, because how embarrassing to lose my everything, so why not run to the country with my tail between my legs? And what was I supposed to do, pray tell, become a tomato farmer? Can I support myself on tomatoes? Maybe a sprout farmer? My track record with plants has never been great and now I think I can be a sprout farmer? Fat Chance. I may have been sitting squarely in the farmlands of Northern Illinois-Southern Wisconsin, but I had a snowball’s chance in hell to become a farmer, modern or old-timey, at this point.

I filed the day dream away and continued my desperate search of WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?!

Days after Sonia’s workshop, it was Thanksgiving, and thanks to a wonderful invite from my generous ex-husband, Reed, I made my way back to San Miguel de Allende and then to Austin, which I now call home. I quickly forgot all about my farming declaration and moved on to the task of cleaning up the wreckage from my past. I was a fairly miserable girl when I was married to Reed and had felt terribly guilty about how our marriage ended. It ended badly. Certainly not the worst divorce in the world, but I never got over the guilt for my bad behavior and selfish ways. The years I lived in Illinois after the divorce were one big alcohol-fueled guilt trip. This was my opportunity to make amends for my harmful behavior.

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Whether he would agree or not, I believe I have made amends to the best of my abilities, first and foremost by being kind to the deserving Reed, and then by trying to be there in ways I had not been in the past. Not everyone gets a shot at this, nor would many want one, and even though it’s been messy and painful all over again, I am super-grateful I had this opportunity to make right a few of my wrongs. This has helped me to grow up. I like growing up, it feels good.

In early August of this year, after returning once again to San Miguel, I overheard Reed on the phone making a deal to sell his Mexican cows to a factory farm in Northern Mexico. Wait, wait, whoa, whoa WHAT?! I said as he hung up the phone.

Reed purchased his ranch in Dolores Hidalgo after we married in 2005; there were little or few cattle when he purchased it, and he spent the past 10 years adding to and cleaning up the breed of Limousin cattle to create a fine, handsome, beautiful breed of cattle; in addition to drilling for water and creating a majestic, sprawling, lush, 250-hectare Guanajuato rancho. The sound of the wind is amazing out here; I would never call the cops on it.

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Majestic Rancho Santo Niño

Given my recent experience with a thyroid condition and the need to eat paleo, yet finding little-to-no resources for grass-fed beef in San Miguel de Allende, I chimed in with, “we need grass-fed beef right here in San Miguel and that’s what you have. Why don’t we make meat right here instead of shipping them off to a feed lot, where the cows are mostly wanted only for their arrachera?” Reed responded, “If you can find someone to process the cows, you can have some cows.”

The next day I was at Via Organica, aka, Central Mexico’s Whole Foods, and within two weeks, the team was assembled to produce grass-fed beef.

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The handsome Limousin cattle of Rancho Santo Niño

And so began Rancho Santo Niño.

I had spent the past year living with the cows at Reed’s ranch in Texas; I practiced reiki on them, played crystal bowls for them, and especially loved watching the Texas sunsets with them within an earshot. I loved those cows and had (have) great regard for them. Reed says, “cows are dumb.” I say no they are not! They are amazing mothers and any creature that is a wonderful mother is not dumb.

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Playing the crystal bowls off the back of the pick-up for the Texas cows

While I have great respect for the cows and their place in the world, I do know why these cows are here. They are fuel for the people. Oh but how to get them to the people?!

I think factory farming is an unspeakable, horrible injustice to all the animals churned out through them, in turn turning out sick food; to which some people have responded, yeah but you kill the cows too! This is true, but how the cows are treated until it is their time to become fuel for the people is where I want to do it different. I see the hidden videos of how animals are slaughtered; it bothers me tremendously as well. Have you see the Temple Grandin’s movie? She understood this on an entirely different level.

The hard-working cattle ranchers out there producing responsibly raised grass-fed beef are my inspiration, and I don’t pretend for one moment to be a fraction of a rancher, nor skilled tradesperson that they are, but I have learned amazing things through them and with my own experience of working with the ranchers and butchers of Dolores Hidalgo. I have thrown my hat in the ring of producing responsibly-raised grass-fed beef and this makes me incredibly proud and I am excited as I forge ahead and learn new things everyday. I am in on every step of this process and believe it has made me a kinder person, a more mindful person and the gratitude I feel each day when I drink my bone broth is a feeling I don’t want to shake anytime soon.

Producing grass-fed beef been a profound experience thus far.

Cattle ranching done right can save the world’s global warming demise, so says Allan Savory; his TED Talk is extremely moving and inspiring.

Oh and that declaration I made two years ago? I suppose it came true…

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Temazcal we meat again

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Survived the Temazcal!

This past weekend, there was a “Festival of the Spirit” event happening in the park across the street from our casa; how handy was this? Incredibly handy!

It made for a really lovely weekend in the neighborhood; the sounds of pan flutes, conch shells, drums and kirtan came softly wafting through the house, as opposed to super-loud Mexican music. I enjoy the weekend mariachi sounds, but why-oh-why can’t a country the size of Mexico have one set of speakers that work correctly? Maybe they all go to ELEVEN and then some, but the sounds of this weekend were quite pleasant and I of course spent a bit of time in the park chatting with the healers, dancers and merchants. This was a delicious weekend!

I signed up for the temazcal and it turns out it was being hosted by Gustavo, the same man who ran the temazcal I participated in at el Charco del Ingenio (the botanical gardens) last year. Gustavo was looking much leaner and his muscles were more strongly defined; I mentioned he looked thinner and he excitedly told me his girl friend had helped him change his diet. Ahhh I am gluten free now too, save for a few cheats I’ve had since arriving in SMA.

Reading my post from last year’s temazcal reminded me of how fearful I was about recovering my health; my fears have quieted a bit, but there’s always more to do. Being diagnosed with a low thyroid condition BEFORE I needed to go on medication was a Godsend and pushed me to make the changes I had been entertaining; getting off wheat and sugar. Faced with the idea of daily medication, I jumped in with both feet. I started asking around and was absolutely floored at the number of women I met with auto-immune conditions and/or diseases, and the challenge to discover a new way of eating.

I don’t like being the weirdo at the party, the one who has to take five minutes to discover what’s in the food and then how to change it to my specifications, is there anything more annoying then THAT person? The world of living gluten-free is alive and kicking and the ideas are swirling all around me; thankfully it’s a lively community!

I successfully survived my 30-days of no wheat, no sugar, no grains, no caffeine on The Myers Way program, and came out on the other side a lighter and brighter person; I no longer cry at the drop of a hat either, which is a good thing for all those considered. I like this lifestyle; it works well for working with my energy and the energy around me because I no longer feel fuzzy from sugar, nor wheat. I’ve lost about 10 pounds and can run, skip and jump so much better. However, the challenges of maintaining this lifestyle are a bit challenging in Mexico, however, San Miguel de Allende is probably one of the more advanced cities in the country, even rivaling Mexico City for the access to gluten-free, organic and grass-fed options. People are moving here from all over because it is a forward-thinking community.

Reed has had a cattle ranch outside of San Miguel de Allende in Dolores Hidalgo for a number of years. I told him I needed a cow because I need to eat grass-fed beef and it’s hard to come by on a consistent basis. He then told me if I could find someone to process the beef, the project is MINE. I had a meeting the next day with Via Organic, the local organic shop that has far-reaching tentacles around the world, as they have initiated and are involved in many projects and educational efforts to reverse the effects of global climate and provide a more organic and clean way of living in Mexico and beyond.

We struck a deal and currently have gone to market and soon you will find our Rancho Santo Nino grass-fed beef at Via Organica. I am excited to be a part of this project, which is leading us to be involved in other projects in the community and elsewhere. Stay tuned for more information!

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Reiki on the cows:))

“The word Temazcal originates from the Aztec, “calli”, meaning house, and “temas”, meaning vapor or steam. The structure, made from mortar and stone, is symbolic of Mother Nature’s womb. Through the use of steam and healing herbs, the Temazcal ceremony purifies the body and the spirit.”

Amongst eighteen strangers, I once again was the only American and now felt very much at ease as I crawled into the ceremonial hot hut, while wearing barely nothing. It should be noted that I believe the Mexican woman is the strongest and hardiest of all the creatures there ever existed; this sweat lodge becomes unbearably hot and we are in there for over three hours, yet the Mexican woman remains unswayed and fully-clothed. Jewelry too. I am in awe of their ability to endure while the rest of us fall all over each other from the sweltering heat and pitch darkness.

I now understand and appreciate the community aspect of a temazcal, to be so close to each other, respect each other and to quiet the fears if you think you or your neighbor is going to freak out — and believe me, the idea is right there.

It’s an amazing feeling to crawl out of the hut after I’ve sang songs, cried and prayed to my Gods. I have been walking on clouds ever since and feel incredibly grateful for the experience and how it makes me feel. I am getting involved in some exciting projects in the community and am excited to move them forward.

Jump in that temazcal if you get the chance, it’s a wonderful opportunity to shed some unwanted skin!

And then there’s the #PicTweetArt, exploring even more deeply the energy between people. I am learning anatomy and how to draw emotions. My first set of balls ever!! :DD

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#PicTweetArt going deeper! xx