These are the guys we are sharing our lives with at the present. It has been quite a revelation living like this. We share 24hours a day, almost, with complete strangers, who are not that for long. The relationship is pretty intense as one works, eats, plays and in some instances, sleep together. We share kitchens and bathrooms, highs and lows. There are minimal opportunities for secrets of any sorts. Your moods, aches, dilemmas are available for all to see as there is nowhere to hide or if you do find somewhere it cannot go unnoticed for long.
There is, of course, a commonality of wanting to live this lifestyle which crosses from both hosts to helpers. There is a mutual dependency to make each day as fulfilling and successful as it can be for all involved. We hear stories of previous visitors who, for whatever reason, did not fit in with this life. There is someone who has been in contact for the past 2 months with a whole list of questions to ensure that this place can provide what they are looking for! This is probably not a good start. I think our only questions were ‘what do we need to bring?’ and ‘can someone pick us up from the bus stop?’ Beyond that we were prepared to go with the flow and fit in with what we found (after reading the profile for the initial selection). This ranch had been one our first choices but we are pleased that it has been our final destination as we have been able to bring all the experiences from the previous two.
Our hosts are the wonderful Marilyn and Bruce (two caps) Meeds. They are not married but cousins so share the surname which is handy. Their kindness, generosity and openness is quite astounding. Nothing fazes them even though they have a household of visitors along with the 11 dogs and 7 cats as well as the outside animals, horses, cattle – elderly, debilitated and retired in both herds. In the barn is the hen house, the mini donkey, goat, a sheep and assorted waifs and strays of the bovine family. It is delightful chaos.
Next to me in the photo is Eileen, an 18 year old Dutch girl with advanced horsemanship skills. She left after a few months to go to a guest ranch but left there after a week and has returned to help out with the horses for winter.
Jeanette is one of the mainstays of the place with this being her 4th 6 month visit. She is mainly on the cattle side and manages the barn animals. She originates from Chesterfield but has been travelling for many years including South Africa and New Zealand. She also takes responsibility for feeding the canine army each evening, a task she isn’t at risk of having taken off her!
Carolin (of the Northern Lights photos) is German and been doing the chuck wagon circuit for the past 6 months having previously been here last winter. She is back again as extra help for the coming season and sports a natty line in western clothing.
Rika, a quiet German girl, who, apparently isn’t anything like as quiet as she used to be, has just left to go on a road trip with Hannah from Winning Ways but hopes to return for Christmas. She has kindly sent me the photos she had taken of us.
This place has a richness of spirit and soul which is hard to find in most walks of life. As we come into our final week here it is with sadness that we can’t stay longer but delight that we were able to be here at all and are able to return to family and friends albeit briefly before we are off again.