Wales (continued)


Wales, Wanderlust, and One Year Later

(Continued from home page)

Where May was a month of oral exams and final tests to take, June was a bulk package of the practical side. The first week saw me hopping a train south to Wales, where double Ls and unfamiliar vowels greeted me along with the residents of Neuadd Fach, a small pig farm and baconry nestled at the base of the Welsh hills. I spent five days learning how to assess pig diet, laugh at pig snorts, and coax newborn piglets away from the dangers of hypothermia. I helped with welding a gate (“Pig farming is not about taking care of pigs,” my host wryly explained, “but about fixing everything the pigs break.”), building a pagoda to complement the polytunnel, and delivering more cuts of pork products than I knew existed to towns neighboring round about.

I spent my free time giving in to the urge of up, hiking as many of the hills behind the farm as I had time to reach before nightfall. I went trail running for the first time in years. Surrounded by open air and the rolling unfamiliar, I felt so alive.

The second week of June was a return to a previous placement for another round of 3:30 a.m. alarms for 5 a.m. dairy cattle shifts. The work was early, and repetitive (roughly 250 cows in a 24-set herringbone milking parlor), but I knew all the stocksmen this time around and was pleased to find in my experience the tint of community.

The last two weeks of June brought the discovery of the breathtakingly beautiful Dalkeith Country Park through my work at the brilliant on-site Edinburgh Equestrian Centre. The next week I followed the daily urge to take a train two more stops past Longniddry (where I spent my final stretch of animal husbandry EMS working with 30,000 free-range chickens) to North Berwick. This seaside town with beaches makes me nostalgic for the California coastline, and a coffee shop called Steampunk that I learned about months ago when they hopped on board a U.S.-based fundraiser for the ACLU.

I am now midway through my two weeks off before I start my research project on Scottish otter pathology for the rest of the summer. I have felt these past six weeks like a spinning top, more than anything else, with how I am and where I’m at revolving around here and there and busy and bruised and settled and seeking.

I try to pin down a point of stillness, but there is still so much world and work out there, and I have the unfortunate ability to contract colds and concussions at precisely the wrong time while on my better days filling up free time nearly the instant I gain it. With my “third year” vet student status looming on the horizon, I’ve been constantly re-evaluating what duties and obligations to load on top of studying, and how to balance building for the future while not discounting the life I’m living right now.



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