As I wake, it’s quiet apart from the wind outside. I begin my slow Sunday morning with eggs and a chat with whoever is around. The sun starts to appear from behind the clouds and I take a walk through the fields to check on the rewilding cows. A sudden cloud of goldfinches flies up from the thistles and I look up to see hundreds fill my patch of sky. Once I’ve checked the cows, I make my way back to the bunkhouse, plucking blackberries as I go and spot a goldcrest flitting in the trees. Not a bad way to start a Sunday.
One month in and I’m starting to feel the imprint of this place. Every time I leave and return my body lifts as I see the river snaking through the valley and I’m glad to be back.
We’ve had so many different experiences since we’ve been here, it’s hard to know where to begin. Each week is different but there is a similar rhythm that helps to keep me grounded. We’ve had workshops in the yurt and the field on bird ID, plant ID, rewilding and habitat surveying. Now when I wander the fields or take a walk through the woods, I see things through a different lens, organising plants into their families, deciphering bird song and even analysing the quality of grasslands.
Our trip to Dartmoor was definitely a highlight, where we got to explore the different habitats and find the different species we’d been learning about. Bog walking, tor climbing and having a contemplative moment on the outskirts of Wistman’s Wood. There was even time for an ice cream on the way home.
Throughout the month, we’ve been learning different practical skills. The first week we made bird boxes and put them up in the farm. It felt great to be able to create something in just one day. We’ve had regular days in the garden, where we’ve focussed on different gardening skills and there has been time to take stock, sometimes harvesting food in silence or having a moment to meditate in a beautiful space.
We’ve helped with livestock management, cow herding has been particularly fun, strutting around the farm with our walking sticks and wellies and showing Monty the bull who’s boss! Last week, we had a day’s training on chainsaws, something I would never naturally volunteer to do but I really enjoyed it. Each skill was taught in small steps so it never felt overwhelming or too scary.
I feel like I’ve settled into life on the farm, it’s been great getting to know everyone. It’s refreshing to be part of such a nurturing environment where I feel safe to make mistakes, ask questions and speak openly. There is always something going on, either firing up the pizza oven in the woods, going to gigs or trips to the beach. There’s also the opportunity to have time and space for yourself.
Each day I feel lucky to be here and eager to keep learning. I’m conscious of time running away and can’t wait to continue to discover new things. I’m also starting to look toward the future to see where this course will take me.
✍ Beatrice Carter – Summer 2023 Ambios trainee