In total I spent approximately three and a half weeks on Croft 17. Each were amazing yet distinctly different. Week one was spent laughing and bonding with C and her cousins. Week two was spent alone on the Croft with my fellow volunteers L and R. Unlike week one, things didn’t immediately click for the three of us. We all needed to learn how to function as a unit, while also giving space to each person’s needs.
As those of you who personally know me, especially those I have had the honor to teach with, know I may be slightly type A. In my classroom each class had a color, I had a regimented discipline system, and I found great joy in organizing. While on Croft 17, my host mom and the other volunteers let me try my hand at an organization system I had started to think about in during my first week on the croft. Having volunteered on three other farms prior to coming to Scotland, I wanted to try implementing a work schedule to help everything run smoother on the farm during the time C was gone.
As a group, the three volunteers sat down and brainstormed the tasks that needed to be done daily. Things like feeding the animals, picking the berries, cooking, cleaning the living spaces and more had to occur every day. Then there were the tasks that didn’t happen every day. Some tasks, like cleaning the fridge, only needed to happen once a week. Other chores, like emptying the compost loo, need to occur multiple times a day. After we all helped create the list of daily and weekly tasks while eating our freshly made bread, the next job was creating a schedule. The goal was to create a schedule to even out the daily chores so no one day was horrible. If on Monday we needed to empty the poo bucket, then we would put cleaning the chicken hutch out on Tuesday. This was imperative for the next portion of the system.
During my first week on the farm I noticed that most longer tasks only really needed 2-3 people. Any more and inevitably one person would stand around. Likewise, we only really needed one or two people completing the daily tasks around the caravan including the cooking and the cleaning. Furthermore, if those two jobs weren’t separated we tended to eat very late, eat very little, and then by the time everyone got motivated to clean up we had to work past the agreed upon stop time.
I proposed something different. I suggested, in our group of 3, that we had 2 people work on the bigger tasks such as fencing or digging the water trench and one person had the chore of cooking/ cleaning lunch and dinner and completing the daily tasks. I am so thankful that everyone was willing to try this system that some newbie (me) had thought of after only one week on the farm. It ended up working really well for L, R and I, and in the process, we turned into our own little family. R and I would pick on, and laugh at, each other and then “whine” to our “mom’’. L was a hilarious mom and already has the perfect mom face down.
Our little family and the chickens C named after us.
During my second week on Eigg I found myself in a little family unit. We laughed, cried, supported, and built what feels like life-long friendships. We had many ups and downs during our second week on the farm. Things happened that were both within our control and completely out of our hands, yet through it all we knew we had each other. Many people will read this and wonder if what I’m talking about can really happen with just one week. I don’t think this type of experience is possible with just anyone. I consider myself so lucky to spend my time on the farm with two amazing people like R and L who are directly responsible for the creation of this culture.
Excitingly enough, I was able to visit R during the last leg of my trip at his home in Switzerland and we had an amazing time. Soon, at the end of November, L is going come visit my home in Seattle. We hope to visit each other once every couple of years for the rest of our life. I am so incredibly lucky.