Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A Steiner special school and Organising a break from the farm

Recently, the kids and I attended a camp.  I knew I was going to like it but didn't realise what a huge impact it was going to have on me.

The camp was organised by the Melbourne Waldorf Farm School.  They are a group of Steiner connected people who are in the process of organising a Steiner special school.  It would be the first of its kind in Australia.

The vision is for the school to operate as a working farm and incorporate residential housing for elderly folk as well as people with disabilities.  I love the concept.  They are creating a place that is useful and where everyone would be involved in a very real way regardless of ability.  The way I believe the world should be.
The experience of the camp left me wishing I could be involved when the school is operational.  The days the children and I spent there were incredible.  We were immediately immersed in the most connected and nurturing environment I have ever found myself in.  We were a community of people who cared about each other by the time we left. 

There were opportunities for Buddy to experience new activities as well as felting and music and singing for all of us.  Buddy's sisters had the opportunity to part from him and each other while playing, and to meet many other children with disabilities.  Pumpkin announced on the way home that she would like to work with people with disabilities when she grows up (because they are so nice). 
The parents were nurtured and, through various activities and in-depth discussion, felt very deep connections with each other by the time we went home.  The school will be in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne; too far for us although I toyed with the idea of moving for a while.  I would encourage anyone with an interest, to get involved.  You would be welcomed.  Tell your friends and spread the word.  The families who end up at this school will be very fortunate.  The school is in it's initial stages and those who get involved will be instrumental in helping this concept become a reality.

Hubby was left at home, as usual, to care for the animals.  It's the only way the children and I have been able to go anywhere over the last couple of years.  He gets up early for work to put animals in paddocks and stays up late milking, feeding, watering, and locking up.  I was beginning to feel as though we could never go away as a family again.

A friend, who was aware of our situation, organised a three day beach trip for us and pushed me encouraged me to stop procrastinating and find a way to leave our farm.  I put the word out on Facebook and a few friends offered their services.  I chose this medium because I felt I wasn't putting anyone on the spot.  It seemed such a big ask!  This way, those who wanted to come forward, did.

With two people able to help on the selected dates, we began our organising.  I was determined to make it as easy as possible for our generous volunteer friends. 

We organised self feeders for the chooks (I usually feed mash) so that feed and water only needed to be checked and filled if low.  We made up the daily feeds for the goats in ziplock bags - yes, I know shouldn't use plastic but I was desperate to make it easy!  The goats' feeds are individualised so we labelled each bag and labelled the pens.  We even wrote a brief descriptor above each pen in case the naughty girls took advantage of inexperienced carers and swapped pens.  We labelled food containers and the receptacle (an old dishwasher put to new use) where we keep first aid equipment and minerals.

Our evening helper came over to learn to milk and be shown the ropes.  Goats' hay feeders filled, chooks locked up, goats up from paddock, buckets and washing water organised, goats milked and fed, milk strained and buckets washed ready for the next day.  She was very enthusiastic and made me feel comfortable about asking her to take the task on.
Our morning volunteer was a neighbour who has helped in a couple of emergencies and already knew the ropes.  The chooks to be let out, hay in paddocks, goats out.  Her farm is a similar setup to ours, with many of the same livestock.  She is a kind and generous neighbour who happily helped us out!  This same neighbour has come and helped when one of the goats was sick and has lent me her caged trailer when my girl goats were wanting to travel to a buck because they were looking for love.

We only had one hiccough while we were away.  I wasn't clear enough with the days I needed help and there was a morning when the animals weren't let out.  A lesson to me for next time - specify exact days!

All in all, I think we organised the care of our farm fairly well.  If you are in a similar situation, don't be scared to ask.  There are probably people out there that would be happy to help you.  Make it as easy as you can by taking notice as you go about your chores.  You'll think of ways to simplify your system for inexperienced helpers.  Make sure you prepare anything that you can in advance and make sure that you leave a contact number.

I'm sure, one day, we will be asked to provide reciprocal care and my friends will be comfortable to ask me seeing as they have already cared for our animals.  It's lovely to be able to walk away from the daily grind every now and again and well worth the effort of organising the carers.

 Happy holidays!!!


Selina B said...

glad you had a good few days away, there are good people in the world & simple living brings out the best of them, i think anyway.
thanx for sharing

Anonymous said...

You certainly deserved that few days off for all of the work that you had to do in order to take those precious moments away with your family. People just don't realise how much organisation and hard yakka goes on when you live with animals and out in the country. What an amazing school that will be and the lucky few students that are able to pass through it's doors will all be exponentially rewarded. That reward will flow out into the community around the school and ripples of kindness and acceptance will spread. It's schools and ethos like this that make the world a much better place to live in :)

Linda said...

Selina, I think you are right. I find people with a similar lifestyle seem to have a more strongly developed sense of community. I hadn't consciously thought about this in terms of our trip away but yes, I have good friends.

Hello Narf, yes, the people organising the school have such a lovely vision and they are amazing to have the drive to set about making it a reality. This world's an amazing place when you meet the right people!