So, I decided to attend a conference to expand my knowledge on healthy grasslands. I am there right now, sitting on a big, comfy, well worn, leather chair – hogging the internet – while I write this.
I’ve been educating myself on Holistic Range Management recently… H. Alan Day and his book THE HORSE LOVER has really inspired me. I’ve even gone so far as to take the Savory Institute online course (no affiliation). Basically, the course helps you keep your land healthy and producing. I found it very, very insightful and helpful.
Anyway, this conference is a compliment to some of what I’ve learned in the online course.
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS!
Unfortunately, the internet signal is not great here, so I cannot upload many photos. However, I will provide links that have pics, in case you are curious.
OK, so, my adventure…
First off, I took the route Mr. Google Maps told me to take.
Have you ever done that? Driven off the end of a dock just because Google told you to go that way? Well, not really that… but just following your navigation system even though you KNOW there is probably a better way.
So, yup, the 8 hour (estimated) trip took 12.
Knowing that I was way behind schedule, I took infrequent breaks and hardly ate. I wanted to get there while I was still safe since I am not a great night time driver on scary, unlit and treacherous roads. I knew the last half hour was on a 12 mile dirt road (with steeps and blind curves, the brochure was astute to point out) which put me on edge – a bit.
Luckily for my dehydrated and famished road-weary body, a car had turned off onto the epic gravel road right in front of me! Aha! Another traveler going to the same conference! So, I ate their dust, no joke, for the next half hour. And, I was so happy to do it. Having a pilot car was a gift from Horsegods, I’m sure.
Upon arrival, I saw a bunch of people wandering around…
Good. Everyone else was just as minimally informed as I was! (If I was to critique at all, I would say the visitor prep was lacking.) Eventually, we all figured out where to go – our mouths a bit slack-jawed with our surroundings.
Why? Well… we were in this compound, this enormous and beautiful compound with many HUGE buildings… at the end of a 12 mile gravel road, in the middle of nowhere, Oregon. Where were we? Did Walt Disney start a COWBOYLAND here? Were the owners into very large family fun gatherings?
The place made no sense. We were here for a land convention… yet there was a Water Park next to our beautiful lodge. Oh, and an Olympic sized swimming pool next to a lake with brightly colored paddle boats docked there.
Huh? Yup. Zip lines, too, and someone said there were 6 indoor basketball courts in one of the massive buildings…
Well, as we continued to mill about – having missed the dinner we didn’t know we were supposed to arrive to eat – we mused about where we were.
“What is this place?”
“Rajneeshland”, someone said knowingly.
“REALLY? THIS WAS THAT PLACE?! And now it is a what?..”
YUP. Some of you might remember when the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh bought a huge ranch in Antelope, Oregon. He brought up to 7000 followers here and built a self-sustaining village.
There was much controversy and some arrests… the Bhagwan was deported and the ranch went into foreclosure.
…some of the gossip going around the lobby…
“But it all burned down. This is all new”
“Who owns it?”
“Well, after the property went into foreclosure a rancher from Montana bought it and gave it to Young LIfe.”
“Young Life? The Christian Kids Camp place?”
“That’s the one!”
So, that is where I am.
I had to smile at that one.
Oh, and there are also 65,000 acres of glory.
NOPE, I DON’T RUN ANY CATTLE…
And after the first day of the FABULOUS conference, I know that I am just about the only person here who doesn’t run a ‘herd of pairs’ on my acreage. I’m kinda in over my head, except I find it all fascinating – and holistic grazing management applies to horses, too. Except no one here thinks that way… well, that’s not true. The speakers WHO ARE BRILLIANT, have pulled me aside and privately instructed me on how all these principles of land/soil health apply absolutely with herds of horses – or any hoofed animal.
Tomorrow, I will learn about monitoring plants/soil health as well as timed grazing.
Did you know that for every healthy cattle pasture, there are double the weight of earthworms and organisms in the soil underneath them?