Paddington Farm Trust

We have finished at host number two, Paddington Farm Trust, near Glastonbury, Somerset.

It’s been a really interesting week, a huge contrast to our first host and an education in all sorts of ways.

I’ve already talked a little about the work in the previous post, along with pictures so this is an overview of the week rather than more of that.

We spent our time there feeding animals and doing general animal care including trimming sheeps and goats hooves, dusting the pigs ears and the chickens bellies for mites, walking the goat twice a day back and forth from field to yard, did some brash clearing, some burning rubbish, took some fencing down, put some fencing up, cleaned the feed shed, lit a pizza oven, moved some chickens from one area to another, drove the tractor around and got a really good overview of how the farm works.

We spent loads of time talking to people; M&T the farm managers who gave us an insight into how working for a trust and managing a farmland works, some of the other long term volunteers including a couple of foreign men who had stories to tell of other farms around the world they have stayed at, an ex traveller who is a whizz at green woodworking, a retired engineer who maintains the machinery, the teachers accompanying various special needs children including teens with behavioural, attitudinal and learning difficulties, a selective mute boy, autistic children and other special needs, the people at the food co operative that M&T are also involved in running locally and the other residents of the farm who run an organic fruit and veg growing business. We spent time talking to a man pruning apple trees in the orchards and all sorts of other visitors to the farm from weekend guests, nearby neighbours and ramblers taking the footpath through the farm.

We spent a fair bit of time in Glastonbury itself, a mere 20 minute walk away which has been an interesting experience as it’s unlike any other place we’ve ever been to. There is lots to love with a laid back air, plenty of spiritual stuff, lots of people hugging and being all peaceful but also plenty to cast a cynical eye at particularly if like us you are less comfortable around casual drug use and not quite so into crystal healing and the smell of joss sticks! It’s way before my time but this is what I imagine living in the sixties would have been like…

We’ll stay in touch with our hosts, it was a great place to spend a week, a chilled out experience after the full on living of the previous two weeks. Our first impressions were not great; the kids got involved in playing with a rather wild child who turned violent with them both which is simply not something they are used to so they were shaken and disturbed by that, we lived in the van without hookup so all evenings were torchlit and although we were given free rein to help ourselves to anything in the kitchen it felt too strange to go and help ourselves so we ended up buying most of our own food for the week which put rather a strain on our budget. But on balance we gained loads of new skills, new experiences and made some contacts that will hopefully prove useful in the future.

Finishing with bad, good and learnt at Paddington Farm:
Ady    
Bad – less direction than the previous host in terms of what we were expected to do… but…
Good – the freedom of directing our own workload
Learnt – don’t panic, give things a second chance.

Dragon 

Bad – it didn’t feel like I thought WWOOFing would be because we spent so much time just the four of us rather than working alongside hosts and learning from them and eating with them at mealtimes.
Good – spending time with the animals on the farm
Learnt – that goats can’t eat rhubarb, that mutton is ‘old sheep’ meat, about fighting cockerels (the resident cockerel is that sort of breed) how fun tractor driving is

Star
Bad – being hurt on the first night by a visiting child
Good – all the animals on the farm
Learnt – various things about animals including a first sign of an unhappy sheep is droopy ears.

Nic
Bad – a more expensive week as we spent money topping up food supplies
Good – diverse environment for learning – lots of different aspects
Learnt – about animals hooves, that there are jobs managing farms, how to drive a tractor


This post was bought to you using a Mifi from three

Contingency Planning

We do have concerns about whether the van is going to be up to the starting block on time. I don’t doubt the old girl’s ability to get us round, in small, gently coaxed increments but it seems the forgone conclusion of an MOT certificate isn’t quite so forgone. I’m hoping this is Doom Mongering Mechanic rather than a true fact and keeping fingers firmly crossed that once we get Willow back from DMM we can pass her along to Happily Bodging Mechanic and he will get it through and sorted. My car once ‘barely scraped through’ an MOT with a recommendation of about £400 worth of ‘urgent work’ needing doing on the exhaust. I decided as we didn’t have £400 I’d drive it til it actually stopped me from doing so and find the money then. To date (and this MOT was about 5 years ago) I’ve still not had that work done and it’s sailed through all subsequent MOTs. I’m rather hoping this is the same sort of scenario.

But, I like to have a Worst Case Scenaio Solution so have been looking at Zone One hosts and coming up with a plan to ensure we can still head off, vacate our house and start on schedule if we are not able to get Willow ready in time. Our very first host is 2 weeks in a tent (yes, a tent. In March), following that we have two weeks split between three farms where there is possibly room for us in the house anyway but if not certainly room for a tent, then we’re at a campsite so def tent space if not room in their pretty big house. This means we do have time to get the van properly sorted left in the care of my Dad while heading off in my car instead which is now running really well, MOTd for a full year and still taxed til June. The car is very big, it’d be a squash but we could even all squidge up and sleep in it at a push, certainly with enough storage space to take tents, sleeping mats and bags and the clothes we’d need. At those hosts we’d not need the cooking facilities etc that the van provides anyway so a car would make no difference.

I have my fingers very firmly crossed that DMM gets the van back, not too expensively dealt with in the next day or two and HBM gets it fully sorted in plenty of time for not a lot more money too. But if not, we have WCSS there in the wings waiting, like a rather grubby white people carrier of an understudy.