Dear Mike and Sara, We hope this finds you enjoying summer with family and friends. May we relish the cooler seasons coming soon. We look forward to crossing paths, Cheers Alivia and Justin
|Gathering the cow herd at the summer range|
We met Alivia and Justin when they won the bid on a ranch stay that we donated for Zenger Farm. Our daughter Prairie works at Zenger in SE Portland. She helped start their Community Chefs program to 'support women food leaders who nourish and strengthen communities through food, knowledge and solidarity.' I've had a chance to be at the farm a few times when these women shared their food traditions. It gave me a powerful and rejuvenating feeling of connection, with stories and laughter and questions in different languages while we cooked and ate together.
Not all the Zenger ranch stay folks have become beef customers, but they have all helped us learn, exchanging knowledge and friendship across differences. We are thankful for their support of Zenger Farm and they remind me of the life goals Mike wrote down twenty years ago. As pastoralists, an important part of our vision is sharing educational opportunities, along with involving our children, feeding people, and providing a place of refuge.
|Looking southeast, upriver last spring|
We never know what will speak to our guests during their visit or what they will teach us. This year we hosted Paul and Laura. I loved learning about Paul's long career in China and seeing Laura connect with the horses and dogs that work on the ranch. Laura also sent us a sweet note.
I remain deeply touched by the time we spent with you and Mike at Magpie Ranch. We delighted in all that we learned and found it so refreshing to be pulled out of our “city” existence. And I had a BLAST with the dogs and horses. We loved learning about your ranch and the deeply informed and unique approach you take to raising cattle. The time spent with you really refreshed my soul. I’m so grateful!
|Laura and her admirers Ruby, Opuntia (Punch) and Bell|
This year I'm paying extra attention to the little notes. At the beginning of the new millennium, in early 2000, I was on an airplane and my seatmate was a Pakistani man from Idaho who was returning home after hearing the Dalai Lama speak. The man seemed reserved, but I could tell he was deeply moved. His Holiness had said this century would be one of unprecedented cooperation. The man and I talked about this possibility, how at the turn of the century technology offered us information about virtually every place on our shared planet. We wondered, would we be able to move beyond technology to human connections that could influence our decisions, and distribute power in less selfish ways? Would we survive the next century?
|My idea of a real cowboy, trims 93 year-old mother-in-law's fingernails|
These days that cooperation feels both like it's coming closer, maybe just around the corner, and like it is disintegrating and running through our fingers. I find myself looking for it. Studying small actions. What we do for each other. What we do for strangers. And last spring when I realized there were people that I avoided looking at, I started making eye contact, opening myself to the stranger in this tiny way. It is changing me, even if I'm not sure how.
|Pat helps Gabe load post and pole material from Pat's thinning job|
The simplest notes are still encouraging, like the one from Andrew written on the memo line of his check. 1/2 beef deposit, can't wait! And there are ones like Richard's that seem to invite me to peek into his kitchen. Sara and Mike we are very much looking forward to this year's order! Just in time, we have 3 pieces left in the freezer.
|Abby's heifer with first calf. Two years old, just like Abby.|
For a brief time our planet holds us tilted neither toward nor away from the sun. Harvest days are warm as summer and tucked between a nightly chill. I can almost feel the planet shifting on its axis, listing toward the dark. And I am humbled and encouraged by people I rarely see and the little messages that reflect back to us their view of our work, our family, the animals we raise and eat.
Hello Sara and Mike---we are quite happy with the order. Thanks so much for your passion in these endeavors. It's so nice to count on your quality beef. Enjoy the sweetness of autumn.
Dennis and Carrie
And I move on into the coming year, in the last century of my life, a little braver than before.
From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef