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  • Writer's pictureNadine Almer

Day 49 - 52 : Variety Week

Monday started of with "not so" bad weather, meaning the occasional rain and the less occasional, but ever so often, sun breaking through the heavy grey clouds. Either way it was planned and needed to progress: shoveling top soil into the beds of the polytunnel. On Sunday Andrew and Sarah had done a fantastic progress with two more raised beds filled up and now it was on Sarah and I to keep going. By the end of the day we (and by "we" I mean mostly Sarah because she was shoveling faster than I could handle the chickens, move the barrow wheel, unload and even the soil!) had achieved a phenomenal total of two and a half big as well as three smaller ones. There really was not much else going on apart from the arrival of waterproof pants that made such a huge difference I declared myself invincible to the weather conditions, I am in love with them and I rarely wear anything else now, they are unbelievably perfect!

Tuesday brought heavy rain and strong winds. That was absolutely fine with us as we had fixed this day to be our first day of sowing out the seeds that needed to be grown to seeldings before they could be transplanted into the polytunnel. I am not quite sure about the exact numbers but apart from three plants that needed to be directly sown into the raised beds, we did approximately fifteen other varieties of vegetables and edible flowers. Especially the fact that this, for us anyway, marked the start of the growing season made it an awesome day. Additionally just being able to imagining that soon all of it will start to germinate, grow into seedlings and bring some lush green life into the polytunnel, felt amazing to me. Now they silently live next door and I am in charge to care for their welfare, mostly keeping the moist levels perfectly steady and caressing them with kind words of encouragement to become the biggest, most healthiest plants ever raised by humans - humble as always!

The house, the ladder and outside area for the chickens has been finished last week, which meant that the inside needed to be prepared for the arrival of the new chickens on Tuesday next week as well as the current resident chickens in the polytunnel. Despite harsh weather conditions we achieved our goal of doing all of that, including the move from the polytunnel to the new accommodations and five self-made chicken nesting boxes out of wood that we could reuse, originally part of an old fence.

I got encouraged by Sarah to practice driving the quad up and down, transporting old palettes that would be used for our compost, and it really was a wonderful experience having so much power and possibilities to drive in difficult territory! Needless to say how much fun it is!

Coming home to Elliot and some PE (Physical Education) was wonderful too, because what started out as a supporting motivational act now became an enjoyable task of getting better and stronger, for both our own sakes but also together as a team unit.

Being a crofter with a flock of sheep bears huge responsibilities. For me as someone absolutely new to farming in general and with animals especially, I had no knowledge and really no clue what goes into it at all. The pictures in my head ranged between tens of thousands of animals in industrial production to small or medium farmers within a label program that has higher standards for animal welfare with gratifications for the produce - admittedly though, I never saw a farm from the inside, I never witnessed a daily routine and I never ever was able to get a feeling for the attachment and care that can be brought into their well-being.

Since I got here I was able to feed and care for Sarah and Andrew's animals, I have seen how they are in their natural habitat and how each of them are recognised by their distinct personalities. Today, once more, I was shown how much work and care goes into having a strong and healthy flock as it was time to check them, one by one. Similar to a visit at the doctor to make sure everything is alright, we would, literally, grab each one by their horns, investigate their teeth, feet, overall body status, feed them additional vitamins and minerals and vaccinate them against pretty much everything they could catch from living in the rough wilds of the Isle of Lewis. I was in charge of giving them their vitamin in liquid form which meant that, while Andrew would hold them steady, I needed to hose the liquid with an elongated, thin, pistol-like metal down their throats. It felt strange and forceful, aggressive even, but Andrew briefed me beforehand and his words made a difference because in the end the sheep would suffocate more from coping with an illness than from two seconds of liquid shoved into their mouths. I am ever grateful for this experience and the trust both Sarah and Andrew put into me by letting me handle their precious animals, including walking their lovely dogs, or even borrowing their car whenever I fancy to go to the beach (like today). At the end of the day this was what I came here to do- gather as much experience as possible to see what path of life I want to go down.

Another week has passed by and it has now been nearly two months since I said my good-byes and left Switzerland. Time flies by and I am so full of gratitude to be here. I could not have imagined more generous, funny and amiable hosts, I still am lucky enough to be in touch with all of the lovely, wonderful people I call my friends and who let me still be a part of their lives and last but not least, I am getting to know myself better with each day that passes, find out more and more what I want my life to look like someday in the future.

For now I am happy and thankful that I am able to enjoy diving into this experience, this opportunity, this island, this nature and travelling for as long as I want to, for as long as my darling Marjorie is happy to explore with me all that the world has to offer us.

Love and light, beloved souls


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