Last night my rollerderby team played an Edmonton team in Calgary. It was fun, although several players left being hurt physically and drained emotionally. While the bout may have physically ended on the track, after every derby bout is an afterparty, and in true derby spirit, we showed up to win the afterparty. Out of the 6 people from our team who made it to the afterparty, 3 of us were Doulas. I’m not sure what the connection is, but it seems that there is a high percentage of birthy birthy ladies in the derby world, and I like it!
Anyways, we got chatting about past experiences and one of the things we chatted about was our trip to The Farm, and our stay in Nashville following our training. First let me say, the Doulas that support birthing mothers AND play derby know how to have a good time in all situations.
**this photo was taken on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, which was the original Grande Ole Opry. Sadly, one week after we left they experienced great flooding in Nashville and I’m pretty sure the auditorium was flooded. However, looking at their website, it looks like it’s all repaired now!! 🙂
It was April 2010 and a fellow Doula friend and I decided to go to The Farm and take a “Midwifery Assistant” workshop with Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives. It was essentially a pilgrimage to the Mecca of the birth world to learn under one of my all time idols. We did so much there, like palpate a dummy pregnant belly with a baby inside, practice cutting a fake umbilical cord and drawing blood, setting up an oxygen tank, blood-borne pathogen training, watsu (essentially shiatsu in water for pregnant mamas), took blood pressure/heart rate, and even listened to the heart tones of a real live baby in a belly. Yes, we basically learned about all the things that we cannot practice as Doulas at all, but it was still worth it. Actually, it was beyond worth it, it was an amazing experience that I am thankful to have experienced.
The week that we were on The Farm we stayed with the Bloomfields. The house was the original house built on the Farm that used to house 50-70 people who all practiced communal living. It was such a beautiful house, with fantastic tile work in the bathroom of really hippy pictures. 🙂 Our host had a hula hoop and we enjoyed hooping on the front porch overlooking a massive garden and lush green forest. It was amazing.
Not only did we soak up all the knowledge we could from all the amazing women on The Farm, we also experienced first hand what it was like to live within our means and off the land. We spent that week eating entirely vegan, which is actually more challenging than you’d think, or at least it was for some. They made amazing food and processed their own soy right on The Farm. We ate dishes that tasted like cooked meat and cheese, like lasagna. We ate desert called Ice Bean, which is essentially like ice cream except made with soy beans, and it tasted like caramel vanilla. My mouth may or may not be watering right now as I type this. Aside from the food, we visited the eco-village on The Farm, which is essentially where many of the bus homes, and mud/straw homes are. They had gardens on their roofs and faces carved in the walls of their homes, it was amazing. I’m not sure if anyone actually lives in the buses anymore, as some of them were pretty worn down, but it was awesome to see it all.
During one of the last nights on The Farm, we gathered on Pamela Hunt’s back porch to listen to Ina May tell stories. That woman is an amazing story teller. So while she was sharing stories of births past and present, stories about the witch hunt and the decline of Midwifery as a result, the safe motherhood quilt project etc., the sun fell and the fireflies came for the stories too. We were surrounded by pitch black darkness and then fireflies everywhere. Talk about surreal.
I cherish the relationships we formed with the other students taking the workshop at The Farm, we keep in contact and I find them inspiring. We bonded with them over a few beverages that we may or may not have snuck on to The Farm. 😉 So just a tip for future farm goers… if you like beer or any sort of alcoholic beverage, bring a cooler, ice, and your beverage of choice, as you will find nothing there. That said, I think the people there are probably the healthiest people I have ever met and it probably would be beneficial to follow suit with them.
One last memory and I’ll be done. While navigating around The Farm during a break we found the school. Yes, there is a school at The Farm, and guess what? It is powered by solar power! We’re standing there looking at the school and the kids are all out playing in the field with a couple adults. Now I don’t know about you, but I used to play a game as a child called “Cops and Robbers”… well, these kids were playing “Cops and protesters”, for reals. I overheard one kid saying, “It is against the constitution to…*insert something awesome here, as I forget what followed*”. Seriously though, what a great place.
I like reminiscing about experiences such as The Farm and other life changing times in my life. Visiting The Farm affirmed for me what I already knew, that my calling in life is to serve women and provide options that aren’t necessarily available for many women. When I first took the Doula training in Lethbridge there were no certified Doulas here, and that is why we brought the training here. When I first took the PBi training for placenta encapsulation, there was no one who would encapsulate a placenta here in Lethbridge. When I opened my brainchild EcoBaby Canada, there was nothing in Lethbridge or Canada like it. Every step in my life has lead me to where I am, and The Farm help ground me to who I am and what I need to do. And man do I enjoy a good walk down memory lane.
ps… moving to Calgary between August 1st-14th!