The second day on Crazy View Farm was a Sunday and it was the perfect day for a long hike through the Crazy Mountains. Our fellow Wwoofers introduced us to the National Forest that protects the Crazy Mountains. We woke up early, made a tasty lunch for the hike and started driving into the wilderness. The majority of the farming in Montana is ranching, which means cows are everywhere. We came very close to hitting at least 15 cows on our drive into the mountains. They all roam along the dirt roads and when you cruise around a corner, they become quite a large surprise. Luckily, neither the Honda nor the cow was injured that day and thank goodness because we were informed that if you do kill a rancher’s cow, you are responsible for covering the cost of the cow.
Our hike took us across creeks, rushing with icy, mountain snow. We rested in meadows, covered in wild flowers and ready to be napped in. We walked up mountains, we walked down mountains, and then we walked up a couple more. Eventually, we decided that the supposed loop that we were on was longer than we dared venture on a day hike. We journeyed back to the car no longer strangers to these wonderful fellow wwoofers.
Back at the farm we began to learn the lay of the land. Crazy View Farm has been in operation for five years. They have five gardens across the property. The farm is most well known for it’s spectacular greens. Laurie grows more greens than I could describe to you here, but some of my favorites are the arugula, dino kale, red Russian kale, spinach and swiss chard. To put it into perspective, Laurie harvests enough greens to supply 78 families with weekly greens on their dinner table. She sells additional greens, along with hoards of other herbs and vegetables, at two weekly farmers markets and an online market.
A farm wouldn’t be complete without it’s requisite animals. Crazy View has two Border Collies – Mary and Jane. They are quite possibly the smartest dogs I have ever met. I am pretty sure they understand English fluently. It’s more than just knowing, “sit, lie down, fetch,” Billy and Laurie speak whole sentences to their dogs and the dogs know exactly how to respond. The dogs stay busy keeping tabs on the five horses, Risky, Beau, Luke, Barry, and Wiley. There are also thirty chickens of all shapes and sizes that lay eggs for eager customers. Laurie has a soft spot for all animals and when a mentally handicapped calf was born at a farm down the road, Laurie rushed in to save it before it could become dinner. The calf, Eddie, is one unique animal. He coughs like an old man who has smoked his entire life and follows up each cough with a snotty sneeze that drips down the hairs on his chin. Because he is still so young, we get to feed him daily with a bottle full of milk. Above all, my favorite animals on the farm are the three donkeys. They love attention and are never satisfied when I am done petting them. Lugs, the small, fury donkey, looks exactly like the Donkey on Shrek. Ruth and Rachel have soft, clean hair and love getting massages at any time of day. I made up the donkey massage method this afternoon, but I do think they enjoy the feeling.
Our past few days on the farm have been a welcome change from traveling cross country. My back and legs are sore, and I finally feel like I have a purpose once again. We have spent our days picking vegetables, weeding rows of crops, taking care of chickens and planting new seed. It is incredibly rewarding to approach a row full of weeds and know how good you can make it look with just a bit of effort. Yanking up thistle by the root leaves me with deep satisfaction that I have not felt in too many other places. The only difference between the work we completed in Canada and the work we are completing here in Montana is the company. In Canada, Chase and I spent our days together in the fields. In Montana, we spend our days with five other people. There is always someone telling stories and making us laugh to pass the time in the fields. Everyone comes from a different background and part of the world. They all have deep knowledge in certain fields and I learn something new everyday from my fellow farmers.
The size of our group here builds a unique sense of community. There are 8-10 people living on the property at any one time. We all share one bathroom, if you don’t count the compostable toilet outside. Dinners are cooked by one of us on a rotating basis over the week. We all sit outside on the deck to eat dinners, with tall, golden sunflowers in the foreground and the Bridgers mountain range in the background. It is wholesome goodness at it’s best. We typically spend the rest of the evening on the deck. All of us tell stories about our lives and we listen to the coyotes howl.
Tonight was our night to prepare dinner for the group. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I had never cooked for more than four people at any one time, the meals that the others had prepared have tasted incredible and I had to have it done at 8:00pm on the dot. Chase and I prepared coconut curry with a homemade flatbread and salad. I should never have been worried. The meal turned out delicious and I am certain everyone would have still liked me even if it tasted like dog food.