Wednesday, 23 April 2014

That time Talia went on a kind of Exodus ….Seder Night in a Yurt

I sang the Ma Nishtanah! First time ever! I was at the staff Seder with about 15 people and Aaron who is younger than me was working in the kitchen so before I knew it – there I was singing about why is this night so different? (Kind of a silly question as I was sitting in a Red Yurt round a seder plate with an Avocado, an Orange and some gulten-free Matzah among other things) I then proceeded to sing all by myself that song about all the Rabbis learning all night long which no one else seemed to know. I actually VOLUNTEERED to sing that because the point of the Seder was for people to just jump in when they knew a song, poem, had something to say etc. Really a bit like our Seder.  You might be wondering why on earth I volunteered to sing a song to a room of people silently waiting to hear my little voice  (especially as I am pretty sure there had only been one cup of wine by then?)
The thing about the farm is that everyone walks that fine line between being an exhibitionist and just wanting to share what they are good at in a way I have never experienced before. Not a day goes by where someone does not grab a ukulele and play me a song they know/wrote or read me a poem they composed.  At the beginning I found this both intimidating and embarrassing especially if it was emotional in anyway or they expected me to join in. However I have come to respect the difference between show-offs and the people who stay here. Show-offs always want you to listen to them whereas here for every poem they tell you, they want to hear one of yours (no I don't write poetry). It does not necessarily matter whether you can write poems or have a good voice, it is more about encouraging people – dare I say it – To Share.  If you can share something, everyone nods and smiles and enjoys the freedom that sharing in this kind of happy environment can bring. (Also some people are really good at singing here.)

So it was without a qualm in the world that I stood up and felt the full freedom of sharing at the Exodus as I belted out ‘Of Rabbi Eliezer the story is told…’ and I kid you not, a mildly insane but lovely woman wanted to record it. 

Meredith (the goat manager) is standing on the wobbliest ladder of all which I also have to stand on

Hex Drivers - yeah whatever :)

Chickens and compost

It snowed and was sunny so I needed my thermals, dungarees, scarf/hat and sunnies

Vegan Breakfast - I know I photographed my food but it just looked so healthy

The first GIN of the trip - it is local and UNBELIEVABLE

Not a Seder appropriate dress but I finally got down to my dream shop 'Reformation' in East Village when I spent the weekend in NY with my mermaid Alana 

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