I come from a family of farmers on both sides, and that heritage has always felt right to me deep in my bones. I right away took to gardening as a small child and it has remained a life-long infatuation. I thought plants and animals were no different than myself as a person, and I accepted this as truth, as perhaps only a child would. These plants were people in their own right, with their own ways how they lived life, and, we could be friends. It made perfect sense to me. And this thought extends to everything around me that is part of mother nature. What I felt naturally in my bones as a kid I found out later has a name. I am an animist, and it has everything to do with how I move in this world.

To be honest, I have always tried to live life on my own terms. I have always strived to be true to myself. Easier said than done. I found it quite hard at times, more than it ever should have been, in a world of conformity with a cultural plan on "how you are supposed to live your life". Especially as a woman. That led me being involved in women's rights issues in my local community. I worked with a local domestic abuse shelter and assisting rape survivors. I also am involved in local politics wanting to be part of shaping my local community for the better.

Other facets of who I am, are farmer and herbalist. Both came to a crossroad together. I always wanted to live on a farm, and given my lineage and never having any dreams of living in surburbia, was not really a surprise. What changed things were the herbs. I fell into the world of herbalism from one fateful evening, upon hearing an herbalist speak of the healing powers of herbs. I felt like lightning had struck and knew from that moment, it was a path that captured my being.

By the time I had amasssed enough resources to buy land and build my farm, I had 10 years of herbalism study under my belt. I could make remedies and help others with their health issues, or grow plants to sell or their fresh or dried parts. That was more my style, given my love of gardening. An herb farm it was! But over time it became clear to me I simply could not get an herb farm business off the ground by myself, while simulaneously working multiple jobs to financially support my farm. Seeing my dream slip out of my grasp was depressing and frustrating. I had to let it go. But, sometimes when we are looking in one direction, something is coming at us from another. Something unexpected and wonderful was about to occur.

As it happned, before I ever was able to get chickens, guinea fowl snuck their way in, "out of the blue", by an instrumental co-worker. Those baby keets won my heart over with a love that I never thought I would feel for birds. They worked their magic on me. I had no idea how these particular birds would play a very important role. My herbalism was going to be applied for birds. What I found in the small farming communties I was becoming part of, was that the health industry for livestock, including poultry, was dominated by veterniary medicine. There was nothing herbal or holistic to be found anywhere. And, as a small farmer, the way poultry was even kept was either modeled on large commerical farms, or big gaps when addressing specifics with small scale farms. I had a lot ot figure out.

The next two decades, I started developing herbal remedies for my flock. I developed holistic ways of poultry keeping. I had no blueprint in which to follow. All I had was my thus far herbal training, which was geared for people, and my lifelong gardening experience. I had no choice but to turn to the only experts I knew; my guineas and the native herbs growing on my farm. I thought it would be an easy task to simply make some basic herbal medicine and I would be on my way. I was soon to learn how little I really knew. It became apparent that I would have to see it from a birdís point of view and have to understand their relationship with not only herbs, but with mother nature. It took many years of intense observation, working with many types of herbs, and just immersing myself into it. I started writing, publishing and teaching what I knew in publications and online social media. That facet of storyteller is still expanding to this day.

What I personally learned for myself has went so much deeper than I could have ever expected. It is about connections and relationships and lineage. It is my own place in nature and how exactly I fit in. That is a powerful understanding . I know now it was not just what I wanted to stand outside of, it was where I needed to stand in. I am finally home.

~ Susan Burek

Moonlight Mile Herb Farm © 2020 Susan Burek