Well, it just looks like I’m not meant for regular updates. I am determined though to finish and have everything published and finished by the end of the trip! Speaking of, we’re into our last month abroad!! It’s really amazing that so much time has passed. Looking back on everything we’ve done and seen and accomplished it feels like we’ve been gone for forever. However now that the end is in sight, it seems like no time has passed at all. I keep having thoughts back to packing up our apartment and working in the produce department as if it had only happened recently.
Anyway, despite it being close to finishing, we still have much to do, none the least is catching up on what’s happened since Ireland! My goodness we’ve really let this fall aside. Well, the hope is to finish by the end of this, so the deadline is in sight!
Alright, so when I last left off I had just finished the experience of working at Virginia Park Lodge. The host after the lodge was a German-Austrian man named Peter, who was incredibly kind and new to wwoof. We ended up being his first wwoofers ever, which was a unique experience.
Peter and his wife had moved to Ireland in the 80s and had an entire farm full of sheep, horses for breeding, cows, dogs, cats, and plenty of veg! However as he has entered retirement age, he has a small garden with some squash and pumpkins, plenty of herbs, tomatoes, and some flowers of course.
Since the farm was considerably downsized from years before, our primary work was waking up and taking care of his two remaining horses, Captain and Rapture. Captain is a young and rambunctious Draught work horse with beautiful coloring and a feisty but not mean temperament. Rapture on the other hand is an incredibly old and gentle Arabian horse. He was always such a delight to work with, especially since we were in charge of feeding and brushing them, combing their manes and tails, cleaning their hooves, and retraining them with bridles. Ashley M was the most inspiring when dealing with the horses, since she loves and cares for them so much. She was the only one of the three of us who was determined and patient enough to help train Captain, who did not take well to being led around. At one point I vividly remember him rearing up on his hind legs, not out of malice but mere annoyance at being told what to do, and she just calmly untangled the lead when he landed and asked calmly “are you finished throwing a fit?”. Our host was also incredibly impressed for her cool head. I was nowhere near to the two of them and I was nervous! Draught horses are not small.
Other than taking care of the two horses three times a day, we helped Peter around the house with cleaning, weeding, planting, pruning… general maintenance. His land was quite expansive and located on a section of bog. The difference in conditions to plant and use the land for food and animals is amazing in comparison to non-bog land. Not having bogs at home, I learned to think of a lot of different conditions that should be taken in consideration before using the land.
Peter is an incredibly knowledgeable man, and whenever we all sat down for a meal, or afternoon coffee and cake (yes, really! every day!), we’d all be engrossed in any number of topics. It varied from the latest scientific journals, to gun ownership, to practicing French! It was a fantastic place to stay and relax.
Another amazing thing about Peter was he loved to bake. Like guys, so much. But he hated sugar, so anything he baked would be very low in sugar. It allowed him to use a wide selection of flavors though, and my goodness I’m pretty sure I gained weight while living there! Meal times were always all hands on deck, a full production. I learned to really appreciate making everything for myself to eat, and the importance in giving yourself the time to make something to eat from scratch instead of buying things pre-made from the supermarket.
It was quite sad to have to leave Peter, he really treated us well and we had a wonderful time working and cooking with him. It was a fantastic stay, and a wonderful experience at being someone’s first wwoofers!
Which is in direct contrast to our last Irish host.
Our last hosts I won’t bother saying much about, because I’ve rather run myself into the dirt talking about them. They were a couple who lived in Roscommon, near to where we stayed at with Peter. They had many grand ideas and plans for a farm, but not much else. It was… an experience, to say the least. We were taken care of, technically, but in short it was a long, long 10 days. It’s actually become a bit of an encouraging standard to compare tough situations to. Such as, “c’mon, we made it 10 days with those two, this 6hour bus ride will be nothing!”.
The important part about staying with them was the fact that when we did decide to contact wwoof about our stay there, they took us very seriously and were able to address our issues with complete and utter faith in us. There was never any second guessing our account of things and we learned that they were removed from the wwoof website after a home visit, which is incredibly comforting!
There we have it, we’ve finally updated to leaving Ireland! It was incredibly sad to go, it was such a large portion of our trip and it really began to feel like a second home. Having a difficult host right before we left made leaving a bit easier, but regardless, we all three would love to return and visit our newfound friends!
How crazy is that? We’ve been gone for forever!
I completely forgot to mention the one good thing to come out of staying with our last hosts! We had another opportunity to visit Dublin, and were able to meet with Dot once again! For those of you who haven’t read these things, Dot was our second host in the trip and we have been keeping steady contact with her throughout the trip. We all really bonded with her, and I think she sees kinds of kindred spirits in us (at least I know I see one in her!). So that was definitely worth mentioning, as that really helped us to get through our short period of discomfort.