Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work so most people don’t recognise them
In the last couple of weeks we have had emails from two people who we WWOOFed with back in 2011. They don’t know each other, it’s pure coincidence that they happen to have decided to get in contact with us around the same time as each other. Both were other WWOOFers, both single men that we crossed paths with at different WWOOF hosts. We didn’t actually have other WWOOFers with us at most of our hosts, mainly because if they were accommodating four of us it was pretty much their quote I think. With both of them we were with them for only about a week before heading off our seperate ways but there is something about WWOOFing and that shared experience that bonds and binds you in a special kind of way.
Ady likened it to the feeling that co-survivors have after a disaster; you’ve been through a life changing experience together, been a part of something that most people will never know. Funnily enough these two co-WWOOFers joined us on our two most extreme WWOOFing venues. Both totally off grid, both a long way from civilisation. One was an intentional community – a group of families, couples and individuals living in an area of woodland carving a self sufficient life together. The other was one family living on a remote hillside in a series of rescued buildings, tents and old caravans, growing food, rearing livestock and dreaming big.
These were the sorts of places and indeed people that we didn’t even know existed a year beforehand. Back then we thought we were pretty unconventional with our Home Educating and our not altogether mainstream ideas about stuff. But these people, living here in the UK, opting out of mainstream society altogether taught us a whole other lifestyle. You don’t need electricity piped in from an energy supplier, gas can come in big orange bottles rather than the mains, water can be diverted from a stream or river or collected from the rain rather than coming from a treatment plant and human waste should at worst be dealt with without gallons of drinking water, at best be considered a resource. That a car if you have one at all is a mode of transport to work for you only when your own two legs cannot rather than a status symbol. The pleasures of tasting food you have grown yourself, working alongside others and connecting with fellow humans, finding joy simply in living and being with nature is time better spent than ever sitting on the sofa channel flicking on the TV or plugged into endless games consoles. That if you love your life all the time there is no need to plan holidays and time off from your own life.
I think even a brief week long glimpse into that sort of life changes you to the degree that only those who were there experiencing it alongside you can ever truly understand what it meant. Therefore we need to stay in touch, even if only infrequently by email to just nudge each other and say ‘do you remember?’ ‘wasn’t it amazing?’ ‘you were there when something magical happened, we’ll be forever close no matter what we go off and do with that experience afterwards’
One day, in the not too distant future it fills me with excitement to think we could be hosting WWOOFers and giving them the opportunity to experience these things, forge these connections and make these acquaintances. Year one for us here was about finding our feet, finding our place on Rum and getting our heads around how life was going to work. Year two so far has been about adjusting our plans and ideas to fit with the reality rather than the dream, about fine tuning and honing and slowly making things happen. We’re breeding our livestock, selling our produce, working out what sells and what works and what makes us happy. Year three when it comes will be about moving forward with the next phases – building and opening things up to more people.
Meanwhile it’s drawing to the end of the tourist season here on Rum. Our last Market Day is this week, that will be the seventh. It’s been good, I’ve had some real successes with breads, dried herbs and preserves. My ‘moods of Rum’ scarves have sold really well in the craft shop and Davies’ postcards have been a huge winner. We’re selling eggs well from our honesty tables and through the shop aswell as supplying the guest house here on Rum. There is a big market for duck eggs and requests for goose and turkey eggs from the other islands and mainland which we’ll hopefully be able to meet next year. It feels strange to already be looking to the turning of the season in August but it’s how it works here, nights are drawing in and the weather is already changing.
I’m already thinking ahead to the winter – crafting ready for next year, getting firewood ready, planning book clubs and film nights, plotting to have a really strong events program on Rum for 2014 and see what funding we can secure to help with it. Meanwhile venison processing is happening in earnest and we’re fattening those turkeys for selling and the piglets for our own consumption. Raspberries are doing well with me foraging enough for a couple of jars of jam a week so the store cupboard is already starting to fill up and the blackberries are only a week or so away from first pickings.
We’ve still got a full diary ahead of us though with at least three more lots of family and friends booked to visit and a brief mainland trip coming up for us next week to visit the dentist, stock up on food shopping and have a brief taste of mainland life.
|the turkeys, growing and looking more prehistoric every day!|
|thriving herb spiral, it makes me smile every time I look at it|
|another rainbow on the croft|