by Rosie Laakeaoekena Keale, ecological and agricultural land management intern at the ranch
As the summer comes to an end, I am reflecting on what an amazing experience I have had at Pine Meadow Ranch. Graduating from University of Oregon with an Environmental Science degree led me to Pine Meadow Ranch, but a season here has led me to a new standard of potential for a future career. The ranch has provided me with scientific field experience at the intersection points of arts, culture, and agriculture. From sharing space with artists in the residency programs, participating in OSU Cascades trips to the ranch, and sitting in on workshops, I have been granted so many opportunities to explore the intricate ways art and science are intertwined.
With no two days being the same at PMR, I have built a sense of place, built rewarding relationships, collected a myriad of new skills, and been able to apply the knowledge I have learned from past experiences too! This position has given me creative space and support in efforts towards reciprocity, resiliency, and regenerative land management. I have developed a greater understanding of land and resource use as the ranch consists of cultivated land and relatively undisturbed forest land. To understand these spaces individually, and expand my knowledge on their complexities as a cohesive 260 acres, has catalyzed my interest in environmental and ecological relationships based on connection, union, and harmony in space.
Some of my favorite moments at the ranch have been working with the cows and tending to our gardens. In one of our projects, we are trying to teach cattle to eat knapweed and thistle weeds. We spent July and August going out into the pasture to train the cows using red buckets with grain, molasses, and weeds, tapering off until there were only weeds left in the buckets. Each day, we would spend some time with 120 happy cows, watching their behavior amongst themselves, with us, and with the weeds. It brought me so much joy to see their cute slobbery faces and molasses noses. To date, we have noticed that some of the standing thistle in the pasture has been browsed down by the cows. This is a promising sign for our project goals and very exciting to see!
Though it sounds simple, I’ve also enjoyed watching the plants grow. Arriving at PMR in June, there were a lot of seeds germinating in the soil but on the surface, it was quiet. Over the last few months, caring for and watching them sprout, flower, and come to seed, has been a beautiful honor. Spending each day appreciating and developing a closer relationship to the cycle of life through these little seedlings is not something I have taken lightly. Harvesting vegetables, herbs, collecting seeds, and nursing plants is such a grounding and soft space to get to know this land and to show her my gratitude.
My experiences at the ranch have further fostered my devotion to regeneration and conscious care for land, building relationships with place, and locating intersecting points of human and ecological identities. I am so grateful to have been a part of this outstanding environment and shared in the joy of gratitude, hard work, and an excellent support and caregiving system. I will look for a piece of Pine Meadow Ranch everywhere I go.
Thank you, Pine Meadow Ranch!
Summer internships like Rosie’s occur annually at Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts & Agriculture (PMRCAA). The Ecological Land Management Intern supports the garden, livestock, and riparian restoration program and other ranch operations at PMRCAA that are in alignment with their interests. Future internship opportunities will be posted annually in the spring.