A mother of four, photographer, nature lover. Someone trying to make sense of it all, through photos and stories. 

I try to be free in all senses of the word, so I made the leap and now work with what I love doing; taking pictures, storing this life in moments, both for myself and for clients. My heart is in photographing birth and motherhood, but I take on just about any photography job. 
(See my birth photos at www.birth.no and the rest of my work portfolio at www.mariavatne.no.)

I live on a farm in Norway with my man Nik and my children Ronja, Freja, Falk and Ulv, plus a bunch of animals. We grow our own food as far as the seasons allow it, we don't go to kindergarten, the three youngest ones will be homeschooled.

We govern our own lives, we strive for independence, we want to be in this life wild and free and full of love.

Killing time.

One of the more difficult aspects about running a farm to me, is the slaughtering of animals. I have been a vegetarian for twenty years, and although my die hard ethics might have faded a bit over the years (I started out as a vegan, but now I even eat fish sometimes), I still, in my heart, find it very strange to kill animals for food. How ironic then, that I fell in love with a farmer, who grew up in a family who supported themselves with exactly what I was so against, breeding animals for meat and milk. I have however modified my views since I met him, I guess living here has made me accept these things more, and I am not so flammable around the subject anymore. That said; I do believe that there are good ways and bad ways to breed animals, and I am still very much against the industrial exploitation of animals, whether for meat, milk, eggs, cosmetics or fur. We are responsible consumers and that is exactly why we have decided to become self-sufficient.

If I was to live on this farm alone with the kids (or better, but more unlikely: if Mr. Payne would become a veggie too), being self-sufficient would mean growing grains and vegetables and fruit and berries, having chickens for eggs and cows for milk, and it would stop there. Oh, I'd have sheep, but only a few, for the wool. Now that isn't the case (and seeing as Mr. Payne is staying for the unforeseeable future), because fact is that my husband is a meat-eater. And hey! I love him anyway! If you told me that twenty years ago, I'd probably either slap you or laugh you in the face. What better, then, to breed our own animals, to give them love and care and everything they need, so when that time does come, I will at least know that the meat on his plate lived well. So yes, I find it difficult to accept killing our own animals, but I'd much rather do it this way, than support the meat industry by buying it in the shop.

So today, our first lamb was slaughtered. It was a black ram (male lamb). A friend of ours who is an experienced hunter came and did it, it was done quickly and without stress for anyone. I hid in the house at first, but went out to have a look when it was done. The girls were there, curiously studying the insides of the sheep, asking what everything was, loving the gory stuff, as kids do.

Living like this means being in close contact with both life and death, and although I am a pacifist myself, I do believe there is good in this. Modern life is so removed from all of this, from nature, and honestly I think it makes us more scared of death, bigger control-freaks, more nervous of everything, more obsessive about things, more out of balance and off centre within ourselves, less grounded, emptier.

But that's just my opinion. I only know how living like this has changed my life, how it has made me rethink my values, open my horizon, and relax more about the whole thing.

So I guess marrying a meat-eater wasn't so bad, after all.



Tomorrow they might all be gone.