when the going gets tough…

I really enjoyed thinking about and answering the questions asked for the post below. I will keep checking comments on that thread so if anyone wants to ask more please do go ahead. I hope I answered your question sufficiently if you asked one.

It got us all talking and thinking about the plan and coming up with strategies to help with the hard bits, trying to anticipate what some of them might be and plan accordingly.

We are all anticipating missing family and friends. We see my parents and brother fairly often as they only live a mile down the road and my Dad often looks after D&S while I am at work. A’s brother and his family live about 20 miles away and we see them most weeks too; they have three children who are also Home Educated and the five cousins are very close. I count my sister-in-law as one of my closest friends. We have many other local friends who we hang out with pretty regularly and our happiest days are spent with children playing and adults chatting and drinking tea. We have a large circle of friends scattered all around the country who we meet up with in larger and smaller groups probably most months to celebrate birthdays, holiday together and spend time with. This is very much part of the rhythm of our lives and will be tough to adjust to I think.

The trade off for this difficulty will of course be more time together as a foursome. We will be learning new skills and meeting new people on a pretty much continual basis – as sociable people I think this will meet our need to be with others. We will come home for at least one visit at Christmas and stay with family, catch up with friends. Various family and friends have expressed an intention to come and find us during our adventure and come and stay near where we are or join us when we take the odd week out of WOOFing and camp up somewhere instead. When we are near to friends as we travel around we will make sure we meet up and we are hoping to get to one or two of the regular meet ups throughout the year too, specifically planning some of the year around them.

All that said we will be having a Goodbye Party a couple of weeks before we go and I know how tough saying goodbye will be.

Re-homing our birds is another hurdle. Not the actual finding homes for them, that is proving pretty straightforward but that goodbye thing is always tough. S said goodbye to her ducks this weekend just gone. She hatched them, looked after them in her bedroom as tiny ducklings and spent hours every day with them outside in the garden. The duck (we had a duck and a drake) started laying eggs a couple of weeks ago so she did the full circle from egg to egg with them. After lots of thinking and several new home options she chose a friend with a huge lake on their land complete with a couple of islands in the middle to cite their wooden house safe from foxes and the dogs that live there.

We took them over there on Saturday, rowed a boat out to the island with the ducks and their house, let them go and after a bit of watching them get used to the fact their world had just expanded dramatically we left them there.

 as hatching eggs

 With S, having their first swim at two days old

 out in the garden, a week or so old

 Last week, fully grown adults, laying and egg a day.

 Being rowed out to their new home

 chasing the boat back to shore!

It was tough for S, although we had quickly realised the ducks were much larger than we were hoping for when they hatched so rehoming them was always going to be a necessity as they simply didn’t have enough space in our garden. S has loved the experience, was sad to see them go but happy to have raised them and taken them somewhere so lovely to live.

The whole taking the ducks to a new home experience brought up one of my own wobbles about the coming year mind you. I have been Very Afraid Indeed of dogs since I was tiny. My Dad tells me I was once nipped by a dog as a toddler, which I don’t recall but clearly was the trigger. I used to be *really* scared and would go to extremes of crossing the road to avoid walking past a dog, checking before I went to someone’s house whether they had dogs and generally struggling when being around dogs. I have tried hard to overcome my phobia since having children as I didn’t want to pass it on to them. Neither of the children are remotely scared of dogs and I would probably call myself cautious rather than terrified these days. I can cope with being around them aslong as other people are in the room and I can even stroke them or hold a lead if pushed. This had occured to me as a potential problem with WOOFing as many of the hosts are likely to have dogs and I won’t be able to guarantee my ‘always someone else around’ proviso happens. I had been ignoring the worry and deciding to deal with it as and when it came up rather than overshadow things.

But when we took the ducks to our friend their dogs (four, gun dogs used to retrieving shot down birds) tried to get the ducks and I found myself facing off two of them, shouting them down and grabbing their collars to drag them off one of the ducks. Adrenaline kicked in and I managed to assert myself. A friend has been teaching me odd bits about dog psychology and pack mentalities and I feel confident I can conquer this so it doesn’t hamper me while we’re away.

I think the key to dealing with the difficulties we will inevitably face next year will be anticipating as many as possible, having crisis plans already made (eg food stash to last a week, cash stash for petrol to get us home, breakdown cover to ensure we don’t get stranded) and the attitude that everything we encounter will teach us something new, help us cement just what we want in our lives and what we don’t and in the same way as your questions challenged us and made us feel even more positive we are doing the right thing, saying goodbye to the ducks, clearing the house, planning a goodbye party and arranging to redecorate our home in neutral tones ready to rent out all feels bittersweet but constructive, positive, liberating and right.

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