Thursday, 17 April 2014

That time Talia was encouraged to have boundless enthusiasm and is put on goat duty….

 Once upon a time, a teacher once wrote about my personal statement that it has too much ‘candid enthusiasm’. Several times my loveliest friends have told me that my enthusiasm mixed with some serious exaggeration makes me a bit ‘American’. Well out here, everyone is like that!  Conversations usually go like this:
Me: I am scared of trees and bird watching is for old men (and perverts)
Sonia: Take a look at this bird through the trees with my binoculars, it is a Turkey vulture

Am I employing my English sarcasm? Well on the odd occasion yes I am. Especially when it is about naming bark…. But 90% of the time including the bird occasion that is what I am like!

Do you remember that time I said I started at 8? I have been put on goat duty since the last blog which means every morning (yes including Saturday and Sunday) I need to be at the Barnyard by 7 30. I clean equipment, fill up grain and milk the goats. Filling up hay and shoveling all their poo into a compost bin follow this.  And do I enjoy this early morning start which means I now work 9 or 10 hour days in the field? YES I DO! I wake up before my alarm, I get dressed and I go and meet my bezzers – the mama goats, their kiddies and Meredith the goat manager who is more enthusiastic than me.
Did I mention I – the continually struggling vegan – often drink the unbelievably delicious goat milk with the homemade maple syrup for breakfast?

Here in Falls Village I am the norm – if anything my enthusiasm isn’t even that enthusiastic!

Today I got to use power tools. All the power tools in the world! We are building a type of greenhouse called a hoop house and I am spending my days doing carpentry (After goats and digging holes).  I cannot possibly type my excitement at using drills, drivers, screws, hammers, electric saw type things, things that make big holes etc.  but I think Shamu described it well. Every time you finish a long day with him he gives you a kind of heartwarming character assessment/blessing. Today it was ‘You are Nachshon running straight in to split the sea taking on new tasks fearlessly and you are also steady and careful which is useful around power tools…’

I drilled on that beautiful door handle 

Shamu and the Hoop House - we just drilled and hammered in all that wood

I went to the super market - they referred to this section as 'IRISH'. Hobnobs, Cadburys fingers, PG tips, Ambrosia and baked beans. ARE THEY KIDDING!? 

Baby goat

Mama goat GIVING BIRTH. I was there for its birth! I saw it all! It is gross and cool!

Mama goat licking two minute old baby goat. 

A lake next to our house. 

my attempt at selfie

a golf cart and my pals at another home

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Talia meets a shovel

This is the only time I have ever been in a place where everyone immediately assumes I am capable. Capable of lifting heavy things, digging things, using power tools, holding animals, planting things, making fires etc.  When it comes to these things at home, either I pretend I can't do them or people just assume I can't. (I know I am about to cause offence but obviously I mean guys: this includes some friends and family - yes yes not all of you) 

In the last two days here is what I have done:

Expanded the goat fence
Shovelled mulch
Shovelled compost
Dug at the bottom of a hole
Filled in a hole
Used an electric drill
Used a hammer
Used a thing that looks like a hammer crossed with a shovel
Planted Gooseberries
Planted blueberries
Petted some goats
Fed chickens 
Labeled things
Wheel-barrowed mulch and compost
Dug things
Collected sugary water sap from Maple trees

Ate a lot of maple syrup

It looks like a long list of achievements (in fact I am feeling pride writing this) but it can pretty much be summed up by 'Moving Things with a Shovel'. 
I start at at 7 on Wednesdays and 8 on all other days (which is very reasonable!) 
The day starts with me moving the compost bins to the chicken coups. These compost bins are far too a. Tall and b. Heavy for me but it is just assumed I can do it so I at least try. 
I then shovel carbon (leaves) onto compost and let the chickens out to eat it. 
This is usually followed by shovelling some dirt because I need to dig a hole for something or fill in some previously dug hole. There is a few hours of this punctured with some hammering or drilling. 
Then I have an hour for lunch where I shakily ride my bike up the road to someones house. 
The afternoon usually consists of carrying large buckets of water and pouring it on holes I have already shovelled. Then I probably need to shovel some mulch into a wheel barrow.  I also might have to move some big pieces of wood to somewhere else. 
During none of these activities does anyone (Shamu or Aaron are the people mainly I work with) stop to say 'you carry the lighter one' or patronise me with comments like 'let me take that for you' or 'I can finish this up, you do the hosing'.  If they ever say 'I can takeover' it never feels patronising because they say it to each other just as much as they say it to me.  I have never felt so equal or capable anywhere or at anytime. I have not once had to use my carefully cultivated air of 'damsel in distress' helplessness I so often employ in London - it wouldn't work here anyway.  

p.s. My shoulders and back have died and gone to back hell. I am hoping they strengthen because I have to clean out the whole goat area in two weeks. 

A hole that is my height - I only dug the last bit where I was inside the hole on my knees digging with my hands. Obviously the hole is tiny so it went all over my hair, in my ears, up my arms etc.

WHAT HOLE? Did I just fill in a hole my height with super heavy dirt and stones? With a shovel my height?

Maple syrup

goats that are really cute

A baby goat born two days ago which I hold all the time and licks me

Monday, 7 April 2014

Watched too many Midsummer Murders

Remember that time Talia voluntarily went to the country side (of which she is terrified) by herself...

I am scared of open spaces and now I am in a cabin in the woods a mile away from another human with a front door that barely closes - let alone locks.
It turns out the other two people who live in this unbelievably creepy cabin are in California till Friday. Having picked me up from the middle of nowhere Wassaic this nice lady Sarah fed me and introduced me to two other apprentices who live with her. Then she dropped me to my 'home' ... at 8 30pm. Spotify goes on immediately to try and calm me down and I start unpacking.
After about an hour I hear a noise in the dark living room and peer out my room. The fire place suddenly seems to have a roaring fire going. Did I mention I am the only one in the house? I quickly send an email to Sarah (there is no signal anywhere on the whole farm) how the f*** f*** f***** do I put out a spontaneously combusting fire?  20 mins later I go and check the fire place. The fire is out. There is no fire there. f******. I guess I am not alone in this house after all, I am obviously living with pyromaniac ghosts. Did I mention FUCK!

Thanks to the love of my life wifi, I spent the next few hours skyping Becca, Marisa, Gabriel, Alana and Becca some more until I decided to write this blog and go to sleep. I will be up early to moving some 'scrap' from one place to another. Luckily I have my outfit prepared.

    Creepy Corridor                Horribly scary fire starting for no reason

Sarah has two adorable cats


My scary room with three beds but one me and the kitchen with lots of windows for people to peer in.
The living room... it is dark outside 

Journey to a farm

There were useless road works so I never made it to the Gordon Ramsey restaurant at Heathrow …

I arrived at the bag drop stressed by how late I was only to be told I was 3 kg overweight.
LIES! Josh and I weighed it!
Anyway, after unpacking my books and shoes into my little rucksack (and suffering the embarrassing feeling when you open your suitcase in public and it feels like all of Heathrow are staring at your knickers … judging) I went back to the desk and some unfeeling chump told me I was still 1kg overweight.  My reaction was to promptly burst into tears and tell him I was going away for ages ‘yeah, yeah they all have excuses’. Still crying I had to remove a remaining 1kg and sob my way through security now carrying all my possessions.  After a quick trip to boots and an extremely angry (anger followed tears) tweet to British Airways I was on the plane settling down to Dallas Buyer’s Club.

A smooth ride was followed by a million hours in the immigration rooms – they didn’t believe the farming without being paid thing. I tried to explain the concept of woofing and that I would be paid in life experience but they still didn't understand... 
I was finally let out, caught a train then a taxi and dragged my overweight suitcase up 3 flights of stairs into the warmth of Marisa’s loving arms.  
With all that it was still only a 14 hour journey – about the same time as the bus from Accra to Tamale in Ghana. 

I spent my last morning in London with the lovely Sappho

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Reality of Fashion Week

The fashion weeks are almost over, and as usual I am left with that bittersweet feeling of total inspiration and yet, niggling frustration that the creative outpourings of so many designers will never quite reach the high street or my wardrobe. True, you can get a sort of knock off trend effect, but to me these trend-led viscose replicas reduces the creativity coming from the catwalk to such an extent, you wondered why you liked it in the first place. 
And you can ‘net-a-porter sale’ me all you like, but even when these glorious days arrive, the controversial Prada face dresses and the applique fox coat of Dolce & Gabbana’s most recent season will either not be there or they will still be unaffordable. What will be affordable are the plain garments with the designer label attached. True, they are cut with all the quality (although still without the ethical credibility) that the loose cut plain tee can muster, but these aren’t the show-stopping investment pieces that my heart yearns for.
Of course there is always House of Beth, which showcases designer clothes for affordable discounted prices, and a bit of ebay and vintage if you fancy a search mission! There are also new up and coming designers to look out for at graduate shows and at UCL Modo society, which we are proud to support and collaborate with, at their MODO ROXX show this Wednesday and Thursday!
Personally I am hoping to nab some new designer’s pieces and have something fabulous to wear that will rescue me from my despairing boredom of high street wear.
In the meantime, check out a few of our favourite shows so far from fashion week! From the applique magnificence of Dolce & Gabbana, to the print-gasmic show of ethical fashion designer Stella Jean and DVF to the constant brilliance of Christopher Bailey and Vivienne Westwood and the inventive passion of the CSM grads – there is a feast for the eyes.!

By Rosalind Kendal