The last guests of the season departed the Ranch and we now begin the process of closing up until spring. It’s a bittersweet time for us with the tragic loss of our dear friend and long-time Ranch cook Mike Wells and the end of another season.
While grief takes its time to process, there is also a sweet side. We experience an outpouring of love and kindness that blossoms from pain and difficulty. Our stellar team at the Ranch stepped up in a positive way to finish out the season. And we received many beautiful emails of support from all of you. Thank you.
We can look forward to next season as we will open up registrations for 2024 retreats in 2 weeks! (Those who have pre-registered will receive links to complete registration within the next few days.)
And we can look back on the great things that happened at the Ranch during the summer, from all the wonderful guests, teachers, and staff to wildlife visits and completed projects.
Native Plants and Pollinators
One of our coolest projects this year has been the Native Plants and Pollinator Project. Not only has it increased habitat for pollinators, it has added new beauty and amenities to the Ranch, including a kitchen garden and mini outdoor library.
In nearly five decades of running the Ranch, we’ve learned our fair share about the delicate balance of stewardship and management—researching the latest science and conservation strategies from local and global organizations, but mostly, by watching and listening to the intricate order of the land, season after season, year after year.
Mama deer bring their offspring to graze alongside guests during dining hours, moose swim freely in the lake, and dandelions, clover and wildflowers bloom all over the property, making this land a sanctuary for insects, birds, rodents and mammals alike.
Preserving this natural habitat is deeply important to us, and coexisting effectively does require intentional action, especially as we learn more about the challenges that certain keystone species face today.
The Birds and the Bees
Pollinators play an integral role in our ecosystems. They are essential for plant reproduction as well as creating genetic diversity and resilience among the plants they pollinate—an absolute necessity in the era of climate change. Pollinators are also paramount for growing food. In fact, one third of the world’s food production depends on them, according to bee experts at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Bees transfer pollen from plant to plant, allowing the plants to reproduce and grow into the fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes that we eat, as well as the plants that our livestock and other animals eat.
Without bees, we’d be living in a very different world. For starters, we’d be much hungrier, and we’d be looking at a dull landscape void of flowers, greenery and animal species that many humans have come to adore.
There are many ways, small and large, to get involved in the efforts to boost pollinator populations. And if not for the valiant reason of saving bees, perhaps for your own enjoyment. As India said in her Dandelion Effect Podcast Interview: “Everybody I know who has any kind of garden is happy. Even if it’s not a food garden, they’re raising something, and that makes them really, really (really!) happy.”
She also said that one secret to a good life is to “eat plenty of strawberries,” which bees also love. Needless to say, supporting the pollinators is a win-win choice.
Feathered Pipe Ranch Native Plants & Pollinator Project
This year, we’ve taken our pollinator recovery efforts a step further with the launch of the 2023 Feathered Pipe Ranch Native Plants & Pollinator Project. Sponsored by Lewis and Clark Conservation District and partially funded with a grant from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, this project aims to improve the lives of pollinators, which in turn has a positive impact on all of our lives.
We’ve always put energy towards creating this kind of sanctuary. But now we’re getting official and really leaning into the educational component, sharing openly with our community about the conservation actions we’re taking and making the Ranch an even more interactive—and beautiful—experiential site for pollinator preservation.
Learn more about our commitment to planting native species, managing noxious weeds, building herb gardens and so much more.
Ultimately a healthy environment, and really a healthy life in general, is all about balance and being able to find and maintain that balance.
With love and gratitude,
Executive Director of Feathered Pipe Foundation
*Featured image credits: Zane Williams