Photo of the Week
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Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone. -Wendell Berry

Dear Friends and Family, As is custom at Dragons, we took the last few days of the course to reflect on our experiences. For one such reflective activity, we asked the students three questions and are anonymously sharing their responses with you below. Before that, the instructor team (Caitlin, Saurabh, Matthew and Rebecca) would like to acknowledge the families of our students and the emotional labor it takes to send your child to the other side of the world for six weeks. We have so enjoyed travelling with and getting to know these thirteen incredible young people this summer. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

1. What did you learn in India?

-I learned too much recently to accurately and (therefore truthfully) communicate what/how much I learned. I went on a personal journey and am coming home a different person than the version of myself who left.

-I shouldn’t let anxiety rule my life and dictate the decisions I choose to make. live life with complete and utter confidence that you will land on your feet, even if it feels like the proverbial rug has been swept out from under you.

-India taught me to be humble.

-Throughout high school I have found myself feeling profoundly lonely, regardless of the number of people I surrounded myself with. I always felt somewhat isolated, struggled to relate and worried that my experiences of connecting to people would continue to be that way. On this trip, I learned I’m not along, many people are out there, whole hearted connection and open-ness is possible and I feel loved by a sangha I didn’t know existed in a way I never dreamed I would experience.

-I learned so much about Ladakhi and Tibetan culture.

-I’ve learned to become a stronger version of myself.

-I have learned about the power of bubbles and not to take myself so seriously. I have also learned about the non-judgemental friendship.

-On this trip I’ve learned that just because everything is empty doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.

-I learned to never be afraid to grow.

-I have learned that silence is not uncomfortable or awkward, rather it is a beautiful way to show compassion. Silence can be comforting in the toughest times and uplifting in the most nerve racking.

-Religion isn’t a taboo conversation topic. The similarities in each creates a sense of unity. Even the differences draw people together through curiosity.

-I have learned that everything is bubbles.

2. Who is a person who influenced your trip?

-Without each and every person on this trip the conditions for my journey and growth would not have been possible. Every person I met in India is equally responsible for my trips’s outcome.

-Caitlin. She is the closest thing I have every had to a spiritual teacher. Without her seemingly infinite wisdom I would have never been able to tap  into my hidden resource of spirituality.

-Mia Wang has influenced me the most over these past six weeks. She has courageously taught me how to look at the world through the perspective of a global citizen while never taking situations too seriously. Her early morning wake-ups, light personality, and her ability to stay calm and collected has influenced the way I look at life. Thank you Mia, for being such a lovely human being.

-All the great people who have opened up their homes to me.

-Jesse and Caitlin have touched me with their beautiful poetry.

-My instructors have been amazing mentors, teachers and friends.

-I have been profoundly affected by each and every person I’ve had the pleasure to get to know on this course. Words are inadequate, so I’ll refrain from rambling but I feel I’ve made 16 wonderful friends whose combined well of knowledge approaches infinity. I have learned so much from these people and I can’t wait to learn more.

-Thinlas guided us safely through the mountains. She was such a role model for me. I have rarely met such a strong, humorous and independent woman. It was a pleasure learning from her.

-My Ama-lah (mother in Tibetan) taught me to laugh.

-Dorkar, our homestay neighbor in the village, has greatly influenced my time on this course. She gave me a Ladakhi name, welcomed me into an unfamiliar place and most importantly reminded me to have fun and not take things too seriously all the time.

-My homestay mother Tashi. She took in six of us and loved us like her own children. She exemplified compassion for all.

-Caitlin McKimmy, motherly in her ability to nurture others, sagacious  in her spiritual fortitude.

3. What should family and friends back home know about you?

-We gonna be alright. Based on my past field notes and now this it may seem a frightful notion to see me at home now. Don’t worry we gonna be alright.

-I’m hoping and working and meditating to shrink my ego and grow my compassion.

-Everything is bubbles. We shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously. I will do all that I can to embody impermanence and live each day with the knowledge that just like everything else it will eventually pop into nothingness.

-I love and miss them so much but they should also know that I may have some trouble conveying how remarkable this trip was.

-Everything is bubbles.

-Every day is an opportunity for radical personal growth, don’t waste your time clinging to the past and worrying yourself sick about the future. life has a funny way o f sorting itself out if let to run completely naturally and unobstructed.

-I had such a great time, and am so thankful for opportunity to do this trip.

- Love has a unlimited supply within our hearts. Each human being deserves to be loved equally.

-The simple way to live is also the best way to live.

-I taught myself to love.

-This trip has changed the way I understand my own identity as a Westerner and my role in the global community.

-There’s a new me coming home, I am excited to tell all about my amazing journey.

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Everything Is Bubbles

North India 6-week Students,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone. -Wendell Berry Dear Friends and Family, As is custom at Dragons, we took the last few days of the course to reflect on our experiences. […]

Posted On

08/14/16

Author

North India 6-week Students

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The last time I heard, I heard the dying of a star. it burned, and to the miserable gazer it whispered “are you lonely?” I shivered. Between cups of chai and dusk and dawn, cold voids haunt me. mock me at mirth and despise with no disguise. Is this a body full of sturdy spirits? or a clean crust of walking dead? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. eyes shut from darkness, mouth gasping for air. I ran and ran and ran. every piece of muscle tried to escape the brutish interrogation. I felt as if this soldier left on an ancient battlefield, one sword, one horse no enemy, yet surrounded. So I fought like a crab caught from behind, raising my clubs high and exhausted myself.

**

The last time I dreamed, I dreamed of mama, fresh as the day we said goodbye, fresh as the morning dew, face never lined and hair never silvered, voice softer than breezes through the prayer flags. “honey, why you so scared?” “Why stuck in the lapse of cosmos?” I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. but she did not answer. bloomed into the dusts of purple mountains, left me awake, almost drowned in saturated tears and fear afraid of missteps afraid of falling afraid of an abyss deeper than the ocean and steeper than the Himalayan slopes what if my thoughts wander to a place higher- than my hands can reach? or what if my feet rest above where my mind resides? Isn’t the anxious endeavour of self a spurious mistake of self?

**

The last time I question. I asked, “Am I broken?” But I don’t know either a caged leopard or a tail-less lizard wounds still bleed, but scars aged and wrinkled weren’t they the honours of warriors? an ode to bravery? broken yet unbroken. fruits smashed to jam fruits squeezed to juice, fruits rotten; the pit of truth is what I hold, and I hold it dearly.

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Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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Transference

Mia Wang,Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

The last time I heard, I heard the dying of a star. it burned, and to the miserable gazer it whispered “are you lonely?” I shivered. Between cups of chai and dusk and dawn, cold voids haunt me. mock me at mirth and despise with no disguise. Is this a body full of sturdy spirits? […]

Posted On

08/14/16

Author

Mia Wang

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    [post_content] => And... they're off! The students and Caitlin made it safely through security and are on their way back home. Thanks for lending us your children-- many stories await you upon their return!
    [post_title] => North India Students Through Airport Security
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North India Students Through Airport Security

Instructor Team,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

And… they’re off! The students and Caitlin made it safely through security and are on their way back home. Thanks for lending us your children– many stories await you upon their return!

Posted On

08/7/16

Author

Instructor Team

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    [post_content] => A little party to express thanks to our wonderful Tibetan families. A flurry of tasty snacks and tea. Smiling faces and warm exchanges. Three or four languages being spoken. Not everyone fully understood each other, yet the understanding had been embodied through a richly rewarding, eye-opening homestay experience in McLeod Ganj. Waving Dharamsala goodbye with mixed feelings, we headed for Pathankot, where our overnight train to Delhi would depart. Another transition awaited us and the excitement for Ladakh was brewing.

The train was on time! Well within a few minutes. Pretty miraculous for India. Cocooned in our comfortable bunk beds with quite cool air conditioning, we entered dreamland as tracks clunked beneath us enroute to Delhi. Almost in a flash it seemed, we were there, stumbling sleepily with our backpacks as we made our way for the Tibetan settlement of Manju Ka Tilla on the outskirts of India's capital.

After exploring a bit of the city and taking time to relax, 'early to bed, early to rise' was the mantra. Our flight to Leh was scheduled for 05:30. So very early. After some coffee the zombie stupor had worn off as we boarded the plane with immense anticipation. The views from above the clouds were truly spectacular. The Himalayas! This fabled mountain range was what many of our students had dreamed of prior to packing their bags for this course. Alpine air. Snowcapped peaks. Fascinating peoples. Adventure.

Despite some initial struggle with the abrupt ascent to an altitude of around 12 000 feet (3 500m), we quickly settled in at our first base in Ladakh, SECMOL. Those who managed to stay awake on the short bus ride from Leh soaked in the stunning landscape enveloping us. 'Drive slow, keep your eye peel' a sign declared. A veritable moonscape with jagged peaks, endless sky and intermittent oases set around the historically significant Indus River. It was along its banks that some of the earliest Vedic civilizations flourished, as far back as 6 000 B.C. One last hairpin and a cloud of dust. We had made it!

Julley! That gloriously versatile Ladakhi greeting and the vast mountains surrounding us filled our hearts with instant gladness. Grow > Eat > Decompose > Resoil. SECMOL's eco-friendly model of sustainable culture is impressive. Almost everything is recycled, all the houses are crafted from adobe, and the sun's power is harnessed through spacey looking giant mirrored disks. The students soon got stuck in to the wide range of service opportunities available to volunteers. English conversation classes amid whistling willows. Mud brick making alongside builders with hands of steel. Milking cows in the morning light. Chopping vegetables and rolling chapatis to catchy Ladakhi tunes blaring from a transistor radio. Playing soccer, table tennis, cricket and a series of inventive indoor games conjured up by some of our boys. There were also high energy dance parties almost every evening to an interesting selection of local and international tunes. Dragons and SECMOL students exuberantly shared moves and made special cross cultural connections with each other.

Walking through the main corridor one afternoon I was struck by the ethos of conscious living that permeated every aspect of life at SECMOL. Blazoned on the walls were mindful memos to the community on things that needed to be done to improve the sustainability and quality of the campus. A poster entitled 'Good Habits' in particular caught my attention.

1. Do a good deed everyday.

2. Learn something new everyday.

3. Brush your teeth twice each day.

4. Eat healthy food.

5. Wash your hands after the toilet and before eating food.

6. Make a queue and wait your turn.

7. Value your dress, language and food.

8. Keep your body clean.

9. Do your homework.

10. Sleep for eight hours everyday.

11. Say your prayers.

12. Help others.

13. Work with the community for your village.

14. Help at home.

15. Spend more time with family than with TV.

16. Be kind to animals.

17. Don't litter, don't waste.

18. Share with others.

19. Say "sorry" when you make a mistake.

20. Love your brothers and sisters.

These simple, yet powerful principles seeped into our hearts and minds during our poignant stay at SECMOL, a window into a way of life moulded by forethought, compassion and hopefulness. On our final evening we were called up individually to roaring applauses and donned with dove white katas and handwritten thank you cards. It was a touching gesture that symbolized the sincerity and warmth of the beautiful people of the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh.

Awareness. Aliveness. Adventure.

Matthew.

 
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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A Trans-Himalayan Journey

Matthew Schroeder,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

A little party to express thanks to our wonderful Tibetan families. A flurry of tasty snacks and tea. Smiling faces and warm exchanges. Three or four languages being spoken. Not everyone fully understood each other, yet the understanding had been embodied through a richly rewarding, eye-opening homestay experience in McLeod Ganj. Waving Dharamsala goodbye with […]

Posted On

08/7/16

Author

Matthew Schroeder

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    [post_content] => It was like walking into another dimension. A sanctuary to close the course. The room decorated exquisitely with marigolds from a nearby Shiva temple, Tigetan prayer flags, lit up by vanilla candles and aromatic with sandlewood incense. Each person sat in a central circle of light in turn, receiving praises and appreciation from everyone else. The energy slowly transported us to portals where we each might journey to ever newer, higher dimensions of existence. This year's summer North India course has had this effect on all of us...and so much more.

This afternoon, centuries old Moghul fortresses and palaces leering over us at Lodi Gardens in the heart of Delhi, we bid farewell to the first Dragon to leave our wonderful band of beings, Raj. Annointed with essential oils by our superb Course Director Caitlin, we stood intentionally all together one last time. The words of this poem were shared, encapsulating so much of what was learned on our adventure.

THE LAYERS ~ Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives, some of them my own. And now I am not who I once was, though some principle of being abides, from which I struggle not to stray. When I look behind, as I am compelled to look before I can gather strength to proceed on my journey, I see milestones dwindling toward the horizon.

Oh, I have mad myself a tribe out of my true affections, and my tribe is scattered! How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses? In a rising wind, the manic dust of my friends, those who fell along the way, bitterly stings my face.

Yet in turn, exulting somewhat with my will intact to go wherever I need to go, and every stone on the road is precious to me. In my darkest night, when the moon was covered and I roamed through the wreckage, a nimbus-clouded voice directed me.

"Live the layers, not the litter."

Though I lack the art to decipher, no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformation is already written. I am not done with my changes.

~

The rest of our brilliant, special Dragons students and Caitlin fly back to the US tonight, but not before a finale feast at our favorite South Indian restaurant in Karl Bagh. We have truly made a tribe of true affections.

Adventure. Awareness. Aliveness.

Matthew
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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A Tribe of True Affections

Matthew Schroeder,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

It was like walking into another dimension. A sanctuary to close the course. The room decorated exquisitely with marigolds from a nearby Shiva temple, Tigetan prayer flags, lit up by vanilla candles and aromatic with sandlewood incense. Each person sat in a central circle of light in turn, receiving praises and appreciation from everyone else. […]

Posted On

08/7/16

Author

Matthew Schroeder

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    [post_date] => 2016-08-05 18:15:32
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-06 00:15:32
    [post_content] => Namaste Friends and Family!

Transference was a smashing success, filled with beautiful reflections, poetry, and lots of apricot jam. We're flying to Delhi tomorrow and the students hope to post more Field Notes from there. In the meantime, greetings to all. It's hard to believe our time in India is almost over!

-Rebecca, Matthew, Saurabh, & Caitlin
    [post_title] => North India Getting Ready to Fly to Delhi
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North India Getting Ready to Fly to Delhi

Instructor Team,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

Namaste Friends and Family! Transference was a smashing success, filled with beautiful reflections, poetry, and lots of apricot jam. We’re flying to Delhi tomorrow and the students hope to post more Field Notes from there. In the meantime, greetings to all. It’s hard to believe our time in India is almost over! -Rebecca, Matthew, Saurabh, […]

Posted On

08/5/16

Author

Instructor Team

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    [post_date] => 2016-08-04 17:22:09
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    [post_content] => Dear North India 6-week Students & Families,

North India 6-week summer program students will soon be boarding their planes to return home and share their tales of adventure with each of you. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for your reference:

August 7th, 2016

United Airlines #083

Depart: Delhi (DEL) 11:35 PM

Arrive: Newark (EWR) 5:10 AM, August 8th

Should you need any assistance during student travel days, please call our Admin cell phone for assistance: 303-921-6078, or email: update@wheretherebedragons.com.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Dragons Administration
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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Return Travel Information

Eva Vanek,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

Dear North India 6-week Students & Families, North India 6-week summer program students will soon be boarding their planes to return home and share their tales of adventure with each of you. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for your reference: August […]

Posted On

08/4/16

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_content] => Before coming on this trip, my knowledge of Buddhism was scarce. One of the main lessons within Buddhist philosophy that has weighed heavily on my mind throughout this course is the principle of non attachment. The more I've considered attachment, the more I've been able to understand how big a role attachment plays in my life and how it holds me back from actually experiencing life and staying present.

I correlate attachment with the concept of time. Throughout my life, attachment to material possessions, people, relationships and emotions has been this inexplicable anxiety and desire to latch on or conserve something. After reflection, I find this attachment actually detracts from my ability to experience or appreciate whatever I fear I may lose- things lose their inherent uniqueness and become shrouded by a generalized anxiety called attachment.  As I see it, time, call it a force, tool of measurement or a figment of our imaginations, is something we humans will never be able to comprehend or quantify due to its abstract nature. Maybe attachment represents the fear of loss as a factor I am not able to control, just like time. Further, in my own experiences attachment typically stems from a place of uncertainty over how long something might last- I find that attachment to specific things or sensations is largely attachment to time and longevity: how long until this disappears?

Many people experience attachment and subsequent suffering for a variety of reasons.  The more that I understand the ride of attachment in my own life, I see how interconnected it is with my anxiety regarding control of the unknown- of loss and time.

Especially as our time in India draws to a close, the lesson of non attachment is incredibly applicable to my current experience send the ensuing tradition to my life back home. I find myself feeling anxious about leaving because I harbor attachment to this very course and the amazing people I have had the pleasure of living with these past 5 weeks. Now, I'm trying to focus in developing non attachment to thus experience, appreciating each moment as it comes and accepting without anxiety or fear that soon it will be time to let go. More so, if I loosen my grip and dissolve my attachment, perhaps there will be less to let go of and more to take away....
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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My Experience with Attachment

Dani Rader,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

Before coming on this trip, my knowledge of Buddhism was scarce. One of the main lessons within Buddhist philosophy that has weighed heavily on my mind throughout this course is the principle of non attachment. The more I’ve considered attachment, the more I’ve been able to understand how big a role attachment plays in my […]

Posted On

08/1/16

Author

Dani Rader

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    [post_content] => I have encountered a poised, pure, sophisticated way of living here.
The sparkling, singing water and the grounded-yet-towering red
mountains get inside of you. Or at least, they have gotten inside of
me. Maybe they’ve come in during the moments—by moments I mean
hours—I’ve spent laughing. Something, some pride or composure
completely frivolous and manufactured is released when I’m laughing.
Maybe that’s what made room for the rivers and the mountains.
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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Writing about Tar on Large Rock in the Middle of a Stream

Helena,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

I have encountered a poised, pure, sophisticated way of living here. The sparkling, singing water and the grounded-yet-towering red mountains get inside of you. Or at least, they have gotten inside of me. Maybe they’ve come in during the moments—by moments I mean hours—I’ve spent laughing. Something, some pride or composure completely frivolous and manufactured […]

Posted On

08/1/16

Author

Helena

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    [post_content] => During our time in Tar, Lucy and I joined our Amale in harvesting alfalfa for the animals this coming winter. We struggled to learn how to effectively tie a knot of alfalfa around our large, hand-cut bales.
The complete language barrier made the task even more challenging. While we wrestled with our alfalfa bales our Amale grunted softly to herself and repeated phrases in Ladakhi that we could not even begin
to understand. When it was time to move to the next field she would smile at us and speak and gesture in rapid Ladakhi until she was confident that we had a satisfactory  understanding of what was next.
We smiled, nodded, and followed along in awe. I felt like a small child again. Not fully understanding what was happening but still being willing to trust this woman completely.  I honestly cannot imagine a more picturesque place in which to frolic among the grass. Huge rust colored cliffs rose above us in an imposing yet reassuring manner while a melodic stream passed beneath us. Amale motioned for us to sit down and began handing us peas picked from a nearby plant. We sat in silence and breathed in the crisp afternoon air.  We did not need words to be able to understand one another. Our silence was enough. The trees, the wind, the sun, and the whispering grass communicated for us.
Our bales of alfalfa looked so inferior next to Amale’s but she did not seem to mind. She would just smile and laugh in the most congenial manner. She dubbed her bales the mother and ours the baby due to their
much smaller size. It was a perfect parallel to the time we had spent with her. She had willingly taken us into her home and treated us as her children if only for a few days. Once she was satisfied that we
had cut and baled enough grass for one day, she pulled out two large ropes and made an improvised backpack. I had the honor of becoming a human hay bale, while Lucy was entrusted with the task of leading the family cow up the hill to the house. What ensued was a comical sequence of events which involved Lucy being hauled up the hill by the cow while I stood above trying to control my laughter. We made it safely to the top of the hill where we stopped to catch our breath. Our bovine friend, monopolizing on our lethargy, began to munch on grass along the side of the path. In order to get the cow moving again
we had to pull, tug, holler, and click. Our reluctant friend, annoyed by our sounds and flailing limbs, began to move again. Amale caught up with us and took the cow from Lucy. She gestured towards the house and
we parted ways. I dropped my pack in the yard and Lucy and I reveled in and laughed about the experience that we had just shared. It was easy for us to think of the afternoon only as a fun and unique
experience. For the people who live in this village working in the fields it is an essential part of life. We can laugh and celebrate the experience, but for us it ends when we leave Tar. We do not have to
worry about the food for our animals running out in the middle of a hard winter. We can distance ourselves from the struggles that these people endure because we get to return to a place where survival is
not a daily struggle. I feel humbled to have been allowed a glimpse into a life that is so different than my own and I will be eternally grateful to Amale for opening her home and her heart to us.
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Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: North India 6-Week

View post

An Afternoon in the Garden of Eden

Alena McIntire,Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

During our time in Tar, Lucy and I joined our Amale in harvesting alfalfa for the animals this coming winter. We struggled to learn how to effectively tie a knot of alfalfa around our large, hand-cut bales. The complete language barrier made the task even more challenging. While we wrestled with our alfalfa bales our Amale grunted softly […]

Posted On

08/1/16

Author

Alena McIntire

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