Πέμπτη, 24 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Every day is full of stories

The mares where playing with Freeda. She was outside the fence, running up and down to see me mucking. The horses where really excited and followed her on the inside of the fence.

One cold morning, the muck puddle was steaming as the sun came up!

Every morning I sing songs about mucking. “I’m mucking in the rain, I’m mucking in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again” (it’s not raining, but I like the song). Or another song, blues-gospel style “every mo-orning, before the sun comes u-u-up, I take my shovel – pause – and I start shoveling shi-it, Oh lord shove-e-eling shi-i-it” I call allthese songs “poo poo songs” and they are my morning meditation!

When the horses are cleaned, fed and watered, it’s time for the chickens and cockerels. Once I come out with the bucket of food, I have forty really hungry chickens following me. Everyone else is very scared of them. But I just find them funny! They fight over food but I still can’t find any eggs! I was told to put one marked egg where I want the chickens to lay eggs.  I have done so in two places around the farm. I am checking every day, but to no avail… One day Clio came to me and said she has a surprise for me! Five beautiful white clean eggs where on a stack of hay! They made THE perfect omelet! 

 Then it’s time for Heidi, the goat. She is Julietta’s goat. She eats some of the chicken’s food, but I found another purpose for her. She will be my “vacuum cleaner” for weeding the garden! All the summer goods have gone, so I need some clean space for the winter garden. Every day, she gets a little walk in the garden on a lead like a dog and I let her eat away! She seems happy and she is now best friends with Freeda! In the garden, Freeda digs the holes and Heidi weeds. I have two lively tools, to make my life easier! He he!

Vaccuum cleaning by animals was introduced as an idea by Clio, my innovative French co-worker. She is using Pyrros – Amandas’ big horse – to strip the leftover hay from the ground. Why break your back sweeping, when he can do it in three days? He is satisfied.

After the chickens we feed the cats. It must be twenty cats waiting in the barn to be fed. Cats are of two kinds. The fat bullies and the thin bullied. Cats cannot wait. They will be around you, all screaming for food like there is no tomorrow. I can’t recognize all of them, but Martha sleeps in the house and Mary is always ready to jump in the house to steal some more food. Mary usually sleeps in the bucket of almonds and walnuts. Another cat I will never forget is Hitler. They called him by this name cause he has a Hitler mustache. He is fat and will not come down from the vine unless it is for food. Charlie and Hunter are the beautiful strong males. They were here three years ago. They will be seen around the farm, sleeping in places you never expected them to sleep. Stachti is here and she is now big and has afunny face. Do you remember her?

Last but not least, the horses. Victor, the stallion is still here. He is beautiful and he as now fathered most of the foals. Sylvia – Marika’s foal, I was there when she was born – is a lovely three year old lady. So is Kaya, not a baby anymore! I have trouble recognizing them, but Clio is helping me. Never bored to explain over and over again who is who…

Me and Clio are having so much fun! One day we decided to get rid of all the junk in the front of the farm. With Georgies’ and Ruths’ help, we put all of it in Amandas’ big truck and went to discover the dumping grounds of Skyros. First stop were the gypsies in the marina. It was one of the scariest things I ever did. We were surrounded by kids who wanted food and clothes. Ok, we dumped the metal as fast as we could and left. We tried to find the dumpster, but we ended up on a really high hill overlooking the island. It was quite a drive! Skyros is so beautiful, and very green in some places! We ended up coming back and throwing a little bit of trash in every bin on the way back… It is still going to end up in the dumpster, right?

Another nice trip, was on the beach of Agios Petros. I remember sleeping on that beach three years ago. This time it was empty and cold. I did not even dare go into the sea! The other day, we went to Palamari, the beach near the farm. It is ten minutes on foot. Clio rode Pyrros and I was with Freeda. It was so hot, so I swam!

PS I am sorry - no I am devastated and shocked - to hear that a small dog back home passed away because she had a fight with Freeda. Aparently she had a bad trauma on her head that caused internal bleeding. I thought it was not a bad fight, but it was bigger than I thought. I will keep Freeda more restrained from now on. Good bye Myrto, you will always be remembered!

Σάββατο, 19 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Life at the farm

(exuse my HUGE lettering, I can't fix it...)

It’s been a week and a half. I am in Skyros.
Driving here with my dad was really interesting and fun, he would tell me where to be careful and where to speed up. It was so nice to do something together after all these years of bad communication…

We were greeted by Amanda in her lovely flat in Magazia, in front of the beach. We stayed up nearly all night taking, catching up on those three years. The dominating subject sadly was Dimos and his daughter Julietta. They were living on the farm for two years. He drowned and Julietta had to go back to Thessaloniki with her aunt. They are both missed greatly.

Next morning, the sun rose from the sea and a new day was beginning. It was so beautiful! It was time to go to the farm. I drove on the snake like roads of Skyros. I know them all too well… Two months on the island are more than enough to know all the roads… I found the farm.

All the familiar smells and the two familiar figures… Amanda and Stathis. The two people, who will always welcome you, show you around, answer your questions, feed you, make you coffee, even listen to your problems!

This time was different. They are going away to England and we are going to be taking care of the farm until they come back. They do need some time off, to forget and get some rest. My role is feeding the volunteers. A lovely lady from France is here to take care of the horses. We were both volunteers here in the past and as I said in my previous post, I feel honoured they trusted me with the farm.

The farm is full of life. Horses, dogs, cats and chickens need to be fed and watered. Much has changed after three years. The foals are now adult horses. It is difficult to recognize them… The volunteers’ room is much nicer, much cleaner and lovely. The main house and the barn is almost the same.

There are also many chickens and cockerels running about free. They are beautiful! Only problem is that we can’t find eggs anywhere. I am asking around for tips that might do the trick…

In this first week, my muscles were sore from mucking out. My body is adjusting to this work, my hands are getting harder and I don’t bite my nails anymore.

The scenery is so beautiful, I feel like crying sometimes. October is hot enough to go for a stroll on the beach and cold enough so you don’t sweat your heart out when working on the fields. Autumn is beautiful, dramatic skies, sizzling rain, wind and a moon that is growing to a full.

full moon on the field
There are lots of almonds and walnuts falling off the trees and the garden still produces peppers, aubergines, cherry tomatoes and rocket. Yes, the land can feed you. I find inspiration for my cooking and the girls seem to like my food. Salads with rocket, walnuts, cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Peppers in pasta sauce. One cockerel was sacrificed to feed us. He was simmered in wine and cooked for a good three hours. With pasta on the side, it was one of the tastiest meals I’ve ever had!

 Now for the people.

Clio is French and her profession is horse training. Always smiling, always motivated, always sweet and I love her sense of humor! She is tall and strong and beautiful and she can always answer my questions about the horses. When me and Clio arrived there were three volunteers. Nicole from Miami, a lovely young girl who wanted me to talk greek to her. Her grandmother is greek, from Alexandria Egypt. She loved giving me a hand in the kitchen. She wanted to learn how to cook! Unfortunately she had to go, but she will stay in my heart forever!

Two more volunteers are here. Georgie is british and she’s only nineteen. I love to tease her! She also knows a lot about horses and she is staying here till December. Such a sweet young lady! Last but not least, Ruth. Also British, twenty four, she was a bit unhappy – for her own personal reasons – when I first met her. She has changed to a laughing, smiling, motivated lady! She is always eager to help with every little chore.

freeda and heidi the goat!
The four of us talk a lot, laugh a lot so the work in the farm is simply easier! This unexpected invitation to the farm is turning out to be one of the best experiences in my life! I am so greatful for the opportunity…

Our daily routine is waking up at 6.30 and going to bed at 9.00. Farm life is really different from city life. You have to do everything in the daylight… Mucking, feeding three times per day… In between, you can drive to the nearest beach, or go to the village, or simply stay in the farm and admire nature…

More stories and photographs shortly…….

Δευτέρα, 7 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Skyros. Back to the farm...

Three years ago I wrote this post. I had just arrived to Skyros. Amanda's voice had seemed warm over the phone and I was ready for my new adventure. I spent two wonderful months there.Amanda became my big sister and we never stopped talking to the phone over the years.

Until she called me for a different reason. She wanted someone she could trust, to come to the farm and help the volunteers while she and Stathis where away to the UK. Could I come and spend two weeks on the farm? What an honour!

I am leaving on Wednesday. I am really exhited!

I can't help but compare the two situations. Three years ago, I did not drive. Now I'll take Freeda in the car and I'll drive myself to Skyros. My friend V. was driving. He is now the father of a little girl in Santorini. Antonis was there too. He was alive and well. I loved him for suppoting me on my journey. He is not here anymore. My dad was a distant figure who did not approve of my decision. Now he wants to come with me. And I'm really glad. So much has changed.... I have changed...

I cannot wait to be with the horses and cats and dogs in the remote farm in Skyros.

Of course I'll be writing about it/ 

Stay tuned!

Τρίτη, 1 Οκτωβρίου 2013

just a thought

Τoday's lesson. 
Αfter the darkest storm there is always sunshine.
Are we listening to nature?
A few days earlier, a praying mantis walked into my apartment. 
I did my research.
The praying mantis is an omen for meditation, quieting down the mind.
Next day i understood why it came. 
it had sensed the storm. It needed a shelter.
The sharpness of innate inteligence always amazes me.
This little creature knew about the storm a couple of days earlier.
After last night's storm, the sun is shining bright.
it's a new day. A new begining.