Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience

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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Everybody I meet here seems to be cold. At meal times in the intern kitchen, people wear many clothes and kind of have that shivered look about them. Tim, Marco, Caroline… Today, upon greeting Dinu, the vet, the first words he too remarks is that it is cold. He asks me about my caravan. I say it is cold, but it is okay. I wear lots of clothing and spend most of the time there only for sleeping. He offers me a room in his caravan. I kindly decline. While he has a bit of a temper, he is a kind man.

Yesterday evening I am here in the Diner working with my computer, when he suddenly comes in through the door, wearing his characteristic knee length trousers and black hose. “Can you help me for two minutes”, he asks. I can’t imagine what  it might be, yet I trust him and quickly follow him out into the night air.

We walk for a minute to the hut where the new Growers arrived several days ago. He opens the door. Inside, there seems hundreds of small birds all milling about on the floor. Dinu asks me to check the food in each of the three feeding stations. That’s all. I think to myself, why he couldn’t do this himself, but I think nothing of it. I return to the Diner, he disappears into the night. As a kind of reward, he appears ten minutes later with a bottle of red wine and plastic cups. We then drink and talk easily.

I feel cold. And yet, isn’t that normal for winter? One simply gets on with it, and does not allow it to dictate how one feels. I almost feel weird with such an attitude, conscious of something outside and beyond me that somehow has achieved an opposite personality all of its own, trying to break my spirit. Yet, such an aim is futile.


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Saturday, 23 February, 2013

We can’t just wait for things to fall into our hands. If we want something we have to make a conscious effort to go out and achieve it. Rightly or wrongly, If we find ourselves in a challenging situation, then we must take responsibility to make it good.

These are life skills, where we learn the true value of the things we care about. Remembering David Hurst, it means taking responsibility for the creative power within us all, rather than the single notion that money can answer all our needs.

Living here at the Farm asks at least myself this question in a very pragmatic way. Perhaps, in the past, I appreciated the merits of such thinking. But, I wasn’t really tested. Now, when my own finances are squeezed, and financial assistance for interns living needs are scrutinized, rather than merely handed out, such chemistry provide fertile ground for new paradigms in the search for ways to move forward.

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Monday 11th February 2013

This morning I woke to a white velvet wonderland of snow in the wood. It had been snowing yesterday, but today it had completely made a new and beautiful frozen quiet landscape. For all of Caravanland’s drab and motley appearance, it too had somehow been transformed. No longer did it seem so beleaguered by its own baggage. Nature had conjured its own elemental magic. Somehow I became sympathetic to this family of caravans, the myriad stories in the surrounding human artifacts and its life. The white had somehow punctured the greyness. Encircled by a celebratory patchwork of nodding and silent brown limbs with arms thickly caked in white frosting, they seemed to act as a lilypure garland sanctifying Caravanland as a precious piece of witchery in its own mysterious ecology. In this moment I was warmed to know it and acknowledge its community of beholden strange species.

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