Today, on the last afternoon of the last day of our retreat, seven of us hopped in the Newbold van with Christopher and Martin from the house and drove out to a local organic farm that produces grass fed lamb and organic eggs, owned by a lovely farmer couple, Peter and Therese Muskus. They’ve completely transformed their 150 acres of land in the 40 years they’ve been working it.
The Muskus’ only farm 1/5 of the land, growing grass for raising organic sheep and chickens. The rest of the land is full of stunning meadows and woodlands and even a green burial site where the Muskus’ plan to be laid to rest when the time comes.
When we arrived in our van, the first thing Peter did was come out and read us a list of all the things we could do on his farm: drive an ATV, look at an ancient archeological site, harvest chicken eggs and learn to sort them, see wildflowers, check out the meditation retreat cabin they keep tucked away on their property, feed a baby lamb with a baby bottle, see Therese’s gardens and greenhouses, and am I forgetting something?
Basically we did it all, but first we had to take off our shoes and switch them out for have us take off our shoes and swap them out for a pair of Wellies, short for Wellingtons–a waterproof boot that is very popular around here.
I loved helping to harvest the 70 or so eggs their hens lay everyday. They filled a huge oval wicket basket which I was afraid to carry.
The thing that intrigued me the most were the roofs of their buildings. They were covered with either grass or sedum, succulents that flower. When I asked Peter why they built their roofs this way he said there was no point in wasting all those natural resources and driving them here to have artificial roofing materials when the natural ones growing on the farm work perfectly well, in fact, better than “normal” roofs. This is a picture of a sedum roof:
After seeing ancient rock circles, playing with cows and squelching in grasses full of thistle and wild purple orchid, we made our way to this amazing little retreat house, which they rent out. A lot of Buddhists rent it as a meditation hut, but what a writer’s retreat this would be:
Talk about peace and quiet! This is what it looked like on the inside, just big enough for one person:
And here’s the view through the glass door from the INSIDE of the outhouse:
For the cost of 180 pounds a week, you can rent this little private piece of paradise.
After we explored the cabin, it was time to cross a few more squelchy fields full of wildflowers to meet the sheep. They certainly weren’t used to so many humans all at once, but there were sure a lot of them:
Larae got to feed one of the lambs with a baby bottle. Peter explained that the baby was probably rejected by the mother, the ewe has mastitis, a sibling was drinking all the milk or a mom was struggling to feed triplets. That’s where human supplementation came in.
As we walked through the fields, Peter and Therese told us all kinds of fascinating stories about their lives and the way they run their organic farm. This was no ordinary farm tour. I volunteered right away when Peter asked if anyone wanted to drive the ATV:
After a tour of Therese’s gardens and greenhouse, it was raining and time to come in for tea. On our way in, I heard Dave say to his wife, CJ, “Honey, let’s move to Scotland and become organic farmers!” Dave is always so enthusiastic.
Therese took tea orders and brought out two plates of the most luscious homemade scones, sliced in half and slathered in homemade jam and fresh clotted cream. They were the best scones I’ve had in Scotland, but what was even more amazing was the view:
As we munched and drank our tea, we had a lively conversation with Peter and Therese and Therese showed us shots of the mandala artwork she did every fall on her land. She’s been inspired by some Tibetan Buddhist mandalas and had committed to creating her own mandalas with natural objects found on her land. It takes her a week or more to create these amazing designs and then the wind and the elements take them back:
You can see more of Therese’s incredible artwork here. And you can learn about renting a place on their property here.
We were very sad to go, but we had to get back to Newbold for dinner (believe it or not lamb from the very farm we were visiting) and a goodbye chocolate cake. It was hard to say goodbye to Peter and Therese, two very special stewards of the earth:
The visit to Laikenbuie Farm was one of my favorite outings. These are people living their dream and in complete harmony with the earth.