Bessheen, Christian, and Noah Baker became ranchers in 2009 when they built Symbiosis Ranch. We had been doing activities on our 70 acre vacant land for several years. It was our camp site, our outdoor play arena, and a place to observe the wild plants and animals as part of our home school program. We even took hikes with day packs to arrive at the property and dream of what it might one day become. In 2009, we decided to build a home and ranch on the land. The animals arrived first and eventually, we moved into the earth shelter in 2012.
Bessheen’s parents, Bert and Nancy Fodor, are also part time residents at the ranch, living in the unique earth sheltered structure with their own dome and access directly into the green house and barn from their private villa. Nancy’s mother, Grandma Bessie, lived directly across the road on the original family farm and gardened into her 90’s!
In the initial years, the boys helped take care of the cattle and chickens, even hand milking the cow was on the chore list. Every other year, we raised turkeys and took on a few seasons of sheep and rabbits. Every animal presented new lessons, more work, different meats, and more personal development for each of us. As a parent, I hoped they would realize how much they had grown due to the ranch and its many facets compared to if we had stayed in the subdivision.
Eventually, the boys finished their home education and headed off to college and training programs. Christian studied technology at Michigan Tech University, and Noah went to West Virginia to become a horse trainer. They both carry the ranch lessons of hard work, honestly, and integrity with them every day. I am always delighted when their teachers and employers talk about what fine young men they are; polite, honest, and hard working are the repeated compliments. It makes the days of broken fences, garden weeds, and sciatic pains all seem small and long ago.
Now, a new chapter is underway, one of volunteers, neighbors, and students of natural health, permaculture, sustainability, biodynamics, and life mastery. These people are all choosing to be a part of the ranch! We have garden days, harvest days, class days, clean up days, and more. It only now seems like we are getting the hang of things, yet when we look back, we realize just how far we have come. The ranch will continue to grow in depth, management, and inspiration.
Bessheen is a Naturopathic Doctor, teacher, consultant, and motivational speaker. Since the age of 12, she has being teaching and learning about natural health. Her love of gardening comes from her mother and grandparents who always lived from the garden and its stored abundance. Bessheen loves to experiment with the influence of biodynamic preparations and sacred geometry on the vegetable and herbal gardens. She is the owner and founder of a unique three-fold business. These aspects include Herbs etc, a retail health store with multiple natural health services, a school called the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education with programs for Naturopaths, Massage Therapists and Doulas, as well as a non-profit Naturopathic Community Center for teaching and inspiring others about healthy living. In the Fall of 2020, she and her staff will be launching a Self Mastery School and intend to expand the ranch to additional land that will house a campus of Natural Health Education and beyond! To see that site visit www.elmastery.org