Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Last Thursday

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I had the good fortune to be a guest along side my partner and two friends visiting from Denmark  at a Hutterite colony situated approximately 10 kilometres east of Lethbridge.  The colony I visited is part of  a branch known as the Lehrerleut.    They practice a faith termed Anabaptist.  I have since  researched the web attempting to  learn more about this faith,    but refrain from further comments until my facts are verified and unless you are 100% sure, please do not add comments unless you are yourself of the same faith.    It is widely known Anabaptists do not believe in infant baptism and the choice of whether or not to be baptized is an individual one.

We were guests of  one family, with four teenager daughters and one son.  The daughters  escorted us through several different areas of the colony, and encouraged us to ask questions.    I was granted permission by their father to take photographs and spent part of today altering them digitally.  I will deliver them next Wednesday where I plan to meet some of the girls again at the local farmer's market.

It was an eye opening experience and  I loved it.   Every person  we met  was  hospitable, welcoming,  fun loving and generous.  We  came home with jars of  strawberry jam, gooseberry sauce,  sausage and even a pair of knit slippers from the Grandmother of the family.    It was an extraordinarily humble experience and I felt drenched in  warmth and genuine positive  human spirit.    And yes, I  was and remain aware of the   austerity, the minimal participation with the outside world, the partriarch, and on, but I  consciously choose  to suspend all judgement.  I've not walked a city block in their shoes.  They live outside of my definition of the world, but I too live outside of theirs.

For those of you reading not familiar with  Hutterite colonies   one of their distinguishing features is  their dress  code.  The  Hutterite women often wear  kerchiefs  that are primarily  black and some are  made of a fabric containing white polkadots on a black background.   The Lehrerleut women wear head scarves with notably  larger white polkadots than the other two branches - the Schmiedeleut and Dariusleut.    The  aprons are also a different fabric from their skirts and blouses whereas the  wear an apron that is identical to their skirt.   The younger boys (as photographed below)  wear 'caps' whereas the adult men where hats similar to cowboy hats.

From 10:30 to 2:00 pm we toured through the state of the art chicken barns, (130,000 eggs per week!)  the pig barns, the metalsmith shop, the carpentry shop briefly  the  ( I am guessing) the  two acre garden, the school, kitchen, and storage facilities.  And clean?  Sparkling and polished.   We had lunch  that included for us as special guests  a fresh homebaked slice of raisin bread, along with chicken noodle soup, chicken necks, carrots, pickles, and homemade potato chips.  We sat with the girls in the church where they explained the process for choosing the minister and discussed their thoughts and feelings around communal life, marriage rules, education and future plans.     There are approximately 150 people living within this particular colony, and 20 families. 

Below are two of the  portrait photos I've prepared so far... I'm in the process of working on two others. Following those  are a few self explanatory random snapshots.

Jacob - age 9 - He has such a classical  look to him, I think.

Sarah - age 8 - Isn't she adorable?  We had so much fun snapping photos but trust me, the ones of me are already erased!

This particular  method of captivity is termed 'free run chickens' and the eggs are transported weekly to Calgary where they are inspected and graded and many transported  to British Columbia where there is a large market for omega 3 eggs.  This then translates to them landing in your skillet approximately 10 days after they are laid.

Just a glimpse at some of the cold storage and canned produce.

Above, two of the girls putting rocks back to secure the tarp over an area that is still requiring protection due to the inclimate summer we've had thus far.  The crops are all 3 weeks behind. But the strawberries, peas, carrots,  saskatoon berries were prime for picking.  

My girlfriend Brenda with Annie, Melissa and Sarah

I hope you've enjoyed this brief visit of colony life  through my eyes....it's my wish  I  may have unlocked a bit of the mystery that often lies hidden behind  the hedges that border the land and the hearts of these unique and lovely people.


Healing Woman said...

What an interesting post. It must have been like a trip to another time. Your photos of the chickens and canned goods show how clean their farm is. I look forward to seeing more pictures. I'm sure you will be inspired to create some interesting art pieces after your experience.

Kathy said...

This was an amazing post! When I have time later I'm going to research this religion/way of living. The world is so very large and we are such a small part... There is much to learn. Thanks! - Kathy

Anji Johnston said...

A really fascinating post - thanks so much for sharing this Trudi. I will definitely have to learn some more facts about this religion. Your portraits of the children are breathtaking - really capture your imagination. I look forward to seeing lots more.

Terri Kahrs said...

Trudi, your portraits are beautiful! I'm sure the girls at the farmers market will love them. What an interesting post. The Hutterite community sounds very similar to our Amish here on the East Coast. They, too, dress plainly and live very simply. They don't use cars, and it's not unusual to see a horse and buggy parked outside of a Wal-Mart or restaurant. Thanks for a great post! Hugs, Terri xoxo