Ike Kamphof’s cabin in the woods

One of the advantages of having to work from home due to the coronacrisis? Not necessarily the cut in commuting time, Ike Kamphof, assistant professor in philosophy, thinks. Rather, “there is more space for animals. Now that there is less traffic because most people are working from home, you see animals emerge from their safe places located far from humans and start settling near busy roads that are now mostly empty.”

This situation nearly resembles her second home in Yukon, Canada.

“I love being connected to animals,” Ike says. “In Canada, we own a large plot on which we are renovating a cabin. It is a return to basics: we do not have running water and have a generator for electricity. When I’m working on my research and would like to use the internet to send emails, I need to walk 3.5 kilometres and take a ferry across the Yukon River to the nearest town with an internet café.” This is not a nuisance to her at all. “The land really belongs to the animals, we simply have it on loan. You know, it’s not all about us humans,” Ike explains.

Back in Belgium where Ike lives most of the time, she is surrounded by chickens and whatever lives in her pond (fishes, clams). Her childhood memories are also of animals. She had a hamster and parakeets, who ran and flew around freely around the house. She also allows her chickens to walk around her backyard and her house. Now that she is working from home, the chickens even gather around her desk to preen and be together.

While she likes the way she interacts with her animals in Belgium, she prefers the interaction she has with the animals in Yukon. In Belgium, animals are used to humans walking in their forests, so they run away further into the woods when they spot people. In Yukon, this notion of people walking their forests is relatively new to animals. Instead of running away further into the woods, they approach people, as they are curious to see what creatures cross their land. “In Yukon,” Ike says, “it’s more like being neighbours with the animals.”

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  1. I would like Ike to post a picture of herself, working and surrounded by chickens!

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