July 31 Update – The Broken Bread Bakery

It has been a full month pretty much since The Broken Bread Bakery came to life. It really occupied my thoughts alot in the first part of the month, lately we have been pretty extra stressed on the ranch and I have just slipped it in as I could. Still, it was a fantastic month. The summary stats for July are as follows…………..

Buns delivered = 23.5 dozen (282 buns)

Donations received for “The Healing Fund” = $645.00

Pounds of donated flour = 140!

I feel great about this and thankful for the support of many people.

A Summary: It has been an inspiring month. As I have baked alongside other people I have listened to stories and heard the resolutions that people are making to stop negative cycles and patterns, to learn more, to have courage, hoping for a better future together with Aboriginal Canadians. That is quite something. I have made new friends and enjoyed old ones.

Favorite quirky moment of the month: happened when I texted one of my oldest friends in the world, in the middle of a work day in Los Angeles and asked him, “hey, do you wanna bake buns this afternoon?” On the off chance he was free to chat I thought I could pop in my earbuds and work on buns while talking over things. It didn’t happen that day but it will yet. It was fun to send a goofy sounding text.

Bonus Developments: There have been moments of connecting as messages have been sent back and forth to arrange for deliveries. Many of those deliveries have meant some face to face contact, still a bit of a novelty after a year with Covid.

Unexpected spin-off activity: My sister is very moved by the thought and intention with this bakery project. She asked if I would mind if she started a branch in Saskatoon. I am happy about this. Margie’s specialty is cinnamon buns and her life puts her in contact with a variety of people who could use a bit of encouragement, nourishment and care. Her branch of the Broken Bread Bakery operates by gifting baking to people she is wanting to support versus fundraising. She created a beautiful tag which she attached to a gift of baking she brought here. It now hangs on our Christmas tree. (We keep ours up year-round.)

Extra Reward: the chance to share the art of baking buns with a few people that wanted to learn more. I also was taught how to make bannock in the midst of things. Sharing the traditions that shape us is no small thing, it felt like a true gift to be taught about and enjoy fresh bannock. ( One small note……Although my Grandma K was known for her buns I was never taught to make buns at home. What I know now is a result of practice and trial and error in recent years and a few crucial tips from our local bun master, Cathy Finkle.)

A Serious and Lingering Dilemma: I am having trouble putting my thoughts to this but just how exactly do I/we honor the children for whom these buns are baked in remembrance of? There is to be one bun for every child treated as forgettable. How does one begin to capture the utter sacredness and solemnity of this? There were remains found of 215 children at the site of the Kamloops School. This means that I have now baked and delivered a bun for each of those children at Kamloops, the first discovered site. I should create a prayer ritual. But, I am tired, lacking deep thoughts, worried about so much and right now, it just feels like doing my best means doing the baking with its details. This week I got thinking about that part in the Bible where it says that the spirit intercedes for us when our sighs are too deep for words. At this time I have to lean on that, trusting that the spirit is at work through the rising I have been part of, the sharing, the reflecting and the generosity poured out by many.

We have been so immersed in haying with multiple challenges that I have been out of touch with much of the news. I have heard a bit that there are more remains being found. This project, baking one bun for each child is clearly going to be long term. Moving on to month two.

Our Family Canada Day picture, edited to reflect the support of the family for this bakery.
(They see alot of buns head out the door.)

A Bakery is Born

Most of the people that read this blog are also facebook friends and will have seen some of this info in recent facebook posts. Not everyone is with me on facebook though and there is more to the story than I can say on facebook without being overwhelming. So the bakery story is coming to the blog.

The bottomline: I started a bakery this week. Its very simple, very limited, very manageable, but very powerful in my heart.

When the discovery of bodies at Canadian Residential School sites began I pondered how I could respond in a meaningful way. What I came to is that I wanted to bake a bun for every child whose remains were found. At first that was 215, a full day of baking for sure. Numbers rose and the plan had to change. Now I am having scheduled baking sessions, joined by people that want to help, want to share stories with me, or just talk over thoughts and feelings about these horrifying discoveries. I am then delivering buns to local people who have pre-ordered via facebook and they are giving me a donation in exchange for the buns, a donation being forwarded to something called “The Healing Fund.” This fund was established by the United Church of Canada in 1994 in an effort to begin making things right. The monies raised support the plans of indigenous people to do what will bring healing to individuals and communities. The response in my local area has been great.

The name of my bakery is “Broken Bread Bakery”, it just came to me one morning. I was thinking about Bible stories where Jesus gathered with others at tables as equals and meals were shared. Then at the point where Jesus’ death was being plotted he told his followers to continue to break bread together and in doing that remember him. The Sacrament of Communion was begun. In my first thoughts on this, through the lens of those discoveries of human remains, I was really aware that Jesus called us to break bread and not bodies. When I talked to the family about this it was noted that although it is true that we are dealing with bodies the ongoing issue is the legacy of the attempts made to break spirits. I think that the way Jesus treated all as equally worthy of God’s love, his example of humility and the respect he showed for the uniqueness of others was in those moments something that made peoples spirits more whole. The residential school agenda was not that. I am quite a fan of how Jesus used bread to invite us, by his example, to do better and to be better. So…… “Broken Bread Bakery” was born. Maybe the brokenness within me and others who connect with this project in any way can be touched. Maybe, by God’s grace, we can all find ourselves a little more whole as bread shared draws us together.

I have had opportunities come from this already. To be with people who I don’t know that well, bake, form buns, be at home in my own space but treading new space in relationship and learning is good for me. I like the familiarity of my own home at this point in my journey. A very cool set of moments happened yesterday. I was joined by someone who attended residential school, her Mom did and her grandmother. She had much I needed to hear. We got a batch of buns started, the water, yeast, sugar, oil and part of the flour blended, then stories began to emerge and it was best to just turn off the mixer, sit and listen. What was in the mixer bowl did its thing, it rose and rose while the stories emerged. Finally as the ingredients started to creep out over the top of the bowl we returned to our work, got salt and the rest of the flour added, and got it mixing, we talked through the noise of that and then got to forming the buns. My guest was a beginner at making buns, so for the 2nd time this week I got to teach someone how to make buns. The very cool thing about yesterday is that my friend brought the ingredients to make bannock. Once we got the buns rising she taught me how to make bannock. I loved the give and take of this and it was truly a treat to sit in my own kitchen and observe someone else at work. We got some oil hot and she cooked up that beautiful and delicious bannock. I was excited to call the kids up for a snack that I knew was pretty darn special. They loved it.

Buns rising and bannock being prepared and also enjoyed all in the same picture. That’s a good moment!
I can count on one hand the number of times we have deep fried at our house. That made this moment extra tasty and exciting.

While the kids settled in Russell happened to come in, we got to have a family snack with our new friend. I had cause to run into town not long after the buns came out of the oven and was able to make a couple of deliveries of warm, fresh buns where again, generous donations were given in reply. Also, yesterday I was given 2 20 lb bags of flour. I am set for buns for a while!

So there is a little bit more of the story of the bakery that was born in my kitchen this week!


Some fun pictures from this week got me thinking about growth. I think the bottom line is that we are surrounded by growth and we watch with keen eyes for signs of growth. This morning Russ and I were checking the calving cows. At one point he looked over at an area we fenced off last year. Some new trees were coming in after randomly seeding themselves there and Russ wanted to protect them from the cows. This morning he said with alot of excitement, “Look at those new trees!! Just look!” Growth is exciting. My thoughts about growth have a dark underside though. Growth is hard. In some cases growth requires letting go of what was and embracing what is to come, often unknown. That is certainly the case raising teenagers. It is not easy. Many times during this year Morgan and I have had the “who is the tallest?” competition. At first I won, but not anymore, we notice the feeling that he has grown just overnight it seems. While I love seeing the man he is becoming it requires letting go of the boy who has been so much fun to raise.

So what are the pictures that got all this going?

While Dr. Marcel and Megan were with us testing the bulls we had the chance for this photo op. This is not a bull. This is “Moo”, our ox, our boy with a long story and a job to do, but its not to be a bull. He winters with the bulls and so he came through the chute with them for his needles. Moo is a tiny bit of a legend at our place hence the priority of taking the chance for a photo op.
Looking at Moo this week I was reminded of this picture from 2015. That is Moo as a baby and that is Morgan, he was starting the process of making Moo into a 4H steer. This picture is what got me thinking about the reality and the miracle of growth. It is also what got me thinking about the fact that I miss my little kids and the times we had. The stage we are at now is interesting, more interesting than I can bear some days, being with humans who are at such a dynamic stage of growth is literally exciting but it is also expensive in several senses. I worry more, I spend more and I think I have more of a sense of grief within me, born of the fact that life is changing so fast and we are being challenged to keep our hands open to what flows in and what flows out, we hold firmly only to love.
This ox of ours now weighs over 2000 pounds yet he has not forgotten his story among us. He is calm, this picture was taken in the same moment that he gave Russ a bit of a kiss. Moo was never able to take milk from his Mom, she died within hours of giving birth. After that we brought bottles to Moo and a colt whose mother died the same day (that was not a good day on the Bayliss ranch). Those bottles were a thrice daily event all summer and fall long. That colt is now our saddle horse named Cinder. Moo and Cinder had an undeniable interspecies friendship after spending their baby days together.
Jill and Moo a few years ago. The friendship is real and so is the growth.
A completely unrelated picture to the topic at hand. The thing is, these barn cats are so cute and frequently cuddle like this. I am not sure about this, but I think its true, most animals need friends in order to grow and thrive.
A photo that is about new life, so much growth to happen yet in this calf, Russ came across Mr. Howell and her new calf, just seconds old, yesterday morning. He sent me this picture. His commentary that went with it was, “we are in the life business, it just never gets old!”

Reckoning with the dark side of growth, the letting go, the grief, the unknowns of the future, had me thinking about one more thing. That one thing is what our nation is being called to do in the wake of the news coming from the residential school site at Kamloops. We are being called to grow. We might long for a time when things were more straightforward in the storyline we thought we knew about Canada and its aboriginal peoples. We have new information though, or maybe its not new at all, but suddenly what was fuzzy, has been brought into sharp focus and we have vivid evidence of things we do not want to consider and cannot fathom. What we do not want to consider, we must consider, letting that affect our hearts and minds, our understanding, our words and our actions. The way I see it we are being called to grow in compassion which stands in contrast to taking a place of judgment. We might ask, “whats it like to be you?” instead of “whats wrong with you?!?!” We are called to grow in the number and depth of our personal and community acts of solidarity, which right off the top of my head means refusing to repeat or encourage race based humor, humor which relies on stereotypes, which comes at the expense of a whole group of people and amounts to slander. Growth is essential to life, without our hay crop growing we cannot feed our cows. Without our knowledge and understanding growing we risk becoming stagnant and dried up, like a dugout not being fed by underground streams or incoming rains. Growth brings good things, Russ and I cannot lose sight of that as we parent this family of ours through all these stages we are working through. Growth brings good things, can we citizens trust that? Can we trust that as we face with so many mixed feelings the truths we are discovering?

I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada. I have said nothing in this post about God or about our Church. Leaving God out of conversations about growth and about residential schools is like leaving the flour out of a batch of bread. I wonder if you can forgive me this omission. I am not sure what I am ready to say and I know for sure that this blog is already long enough and serious enough.