West Bijou Reflections

#1 Gratitude.

The days passed by quickly at West Bijou. Checking on the bison at sunrise became meditation, a morning ritual I will miss.

Together with the others, I dove deeper into Holistic Management and learned more than I could have wished for – from the place, the animals, and the people. Byron facilitated our questions and curiosity masterly and weaved everything within this advanced training together with his knowledge and wisdom into a rich experience.

I’ve met wonderful, inspiring people who I can now call friends. I am looking forward to meet them all at some point in their context, on their farms, in their ecoregion.

We all left with a deep feeling of connection and renewed hope. Active hope. Hope as a verb, not a passive state.

I am deeply grateful for the days.

 

#2 Observing

“This looks really bad”, was the first thought that crossed my mind. Everything was dry, the grass too short or not there at all. The bare ground cracked open underneath the hot midday sun.

My eyes were used to seeing fresh, thick green. The lush meadows of Northern Europe with humidity, maybe not all year round but still significantly more.

“Go out and observe. Do a structured analysis – even if you don’t know the past or present management of the land. Look with fresh eyes.”

And what I’ve rated for dry, dead grass was actually warm season grasses I have never seen before. Short growing, but sturdy and perfect for the short grass prairie we were standing in.

The shrubs in the neighboring field told a story of partial rest.

The dry, brittle soil surface craved for animal impact – and was dearly waiting for rain.

Finally, some drops poured down. Only 0.15 inches. But the next day, the land jumped back to life with a thin layer of blueish green.

A fluff of Blue Grama and Buffalo Grass.

“The buffalo and the wildlife give us the animal impact we need to create the change in the landscape we have defined in our context.”

I fell in love with the land. The dry and dusty land with so much potential.

Look with fresh eyes. The land will tell you a story of the past, the present, and the possible future ahead.

#3 Repetition

You know when you learn a new method, approach, or technique and you’re like “oh, yeah, I get it!” and you feel quite confident after the training?

This is not how I felt after my first Holistic Management training almost 3 years ago.

Not at all.

I felt rather like everything I knew was taken apart and then slowly put together in a new way.

In a very contextually specific way.

It is an approach to better decision-making within the complexity of my context, my landscape, my ecosystem. If it is a farm, a business, or my personal life.

It makes you feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning.

Repeating, teaching, exchanging, and learning with each other – not just at West Bijou, but maybe especially there – gave me more bits of “hey, I think I get this now a bit better”.

Which I am very grateful for.

We are all on lifelong learning journeys to make experiences and share them with each other.

It’s a ride.

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