The Rural Apprentice

To qualify heading up a rural business, and one that embarks learning from and providence 'of the countryside to give ruralis it's full meaning, new skills, new networks and new approaches have been sought to form this project. Starting out with the resolution for truth, imparting on a way of living and working (they are in fact no longer dualisms), and the curious reach for connectivity of fields and meaning that some may not gather, pick up on or wish for, but that are there, speaking the same language, calling upon the same vision, sharing the same bread. Progressive enterprises, and the same for progressive people are rarely dispirited by the challenges we face. Indeed, they are in a position to be on the celebratory side, for they see and live by a way out, or up and out. That is living with trust, with gratitude, with perseverance and a good sense of humour.

Creativity, ingenuity and cheek to dare try is at the heart of this enterprise. On paper, the qualifications are in politics, Spanish, leadership, climate science, operational management, facilitation, conflict mediation, essentially interpersonal skills and academia, removed from the dirt and seasons of land work. That is in the experience and application. This work is far from romantic, far from lifestyle magazines of shabby-chic and foraged alcoholic spirits. But that is not to say that gloss does not have its part. The desire for a more honest way of living, no matter how it may be decorated in sepia Instagram posts, is something to seize. There are different motivations for simplicity, some may merely be aesthetic, some to limit our consumption, some because they cannot afford to consume, and some because there is a knowledge that the complexity of our lives, that is a marvel itself, is not helped by our arithmetic at over complicating and adding to the sums (ha, you could say the same for my jumpy metaphors).

This apprenticeship has included how to demolish a building (golf clubhouse) safely (ish) to reuse timber, has learnt to lamb sheep, has learnt to cook for masses last minute, has learnt timber framing and sexy joint work, is prolific in trail running, planted a thousand trees, can build an outdoor staircase with rocks, scrap wood and tyres, can build a rocket stove, clay pizza oven and build an off-grid kitchen from scratch, can cycle 1083 miles with twenty loonies staying with off grid communities.

As a result, friendships are with Impact Drivers, mallets, chisels, chalk lines, fence bashers and spirit levels, Landrovers and tractors, sewing needles and head torches. There is an acute anxiety with keeping tools dry and upright, I can infuse you a tea from your garden that would help your skin, improve your focus, massage your weary limbs after all this exertion and soon support you in childbirth. The qualities and properties of softwood, hardwood, postcrete, hardcore and lime, cob, hempcrete and Grade I and II soil, fermented rice, jojoba oil and mogworts.

And then there is the female phenomenon. Alongside this rugged counterpart, strengthening my core and arms, has also been an education in the female form, where our energy is stored and how to produce that power. From women's circles and Red Tents, to healing medicine songs and orgasmic yoga to political advocacy around menstrual rights and wellbeing, this part of the journey has formed the anchor to follow my intuition, the core and tune-in to those reserves. Learning to tune in to the body and tune out of the mind is the work in progress, silence and daily practice support this knowing.

Teachers and gurus have been appreciated and acknowledged in my scrapbook. Building Man, Tangentfield, Brake the CycleStreet Goat, Oak Farm, Bronhaul, EcoDharma, Boodaville, Fordhall Organics, Embercombe, Waldegrave Farm, Dorje Denma Ling, Windhorse Farm, Mundekulla, Aspire FoundationBurgs, Quadrangle Trust... it could go on listing the wealth and privilege I have been exposed to. Noticing now that these places have given the gift of pleasure, an unshackled being.

Standing on top of an old Land Rover in a no-longer-waterproof waterproof, racheting poles from a yurt to the roof, whilst Pyreneen mountain rain pelts as I try to protect the wood from the rain using a black tarp. It is chaos, risky and gives me utter happiness. My body, my laugh is alive. This is where I am at my best, or one of the places I am, so I gotta make that part of the next few years.