Life has changed a bit in the last year. Dave and I transitioned from high school mathematics teacher and daily newspaper reporter renting a duplex in Glasgow, Ky., to wandering manual laborers who will live and work with anyone who welcomes us into their lives and gives us friendship, food and a bed.
Thus far, we have worked in four homes we adored, and one we did not. We made our way from the U.S. to the UK and then on to Spain, and will return to the UK at the end of this month. I spend most of my time too busy living and loving this incredible life to properly give my readers an insight into my daily adventure. However, during our three months living at Brook Farm with Sarah and Will Wint and their 23 silly animals in Berrington, Worcestershire, I often jotted down some of my favorite moments and quotes. Much to my husband’s dismay, things he said during our work day were often snuck into my little quote book.
So, I present to you a behind-the-scenes look into Workaway life at Brook Farm, as told by me, Dave, Sarah and Will….
As we laid in our cozy bed, the first thing Dave and I heard in the morning was often Queenie, the donkey, yelling to Sarah that she was ready for her breakfast. Sometime around 9 a.m. I would get up and dressed and stumble downstairs to the kitchen with my journal, to drink a cup of tea and eat my cereal while writing. Dave would come down later, and we’d be jumping to get out and start working. That conversation went like this:
“I guess it’s time to go to work.” –Amanda
“I haven’t finished my tea.” –Dave
Eventually, Dave and I would get outside and start working. Sometimes we heard the sounds of wildlife, and our finely-tuned ears would discern what made the racket:
“Is that a duck?” –Amanda
“Either that or a pig.” –Dave
As we became more entrenched in the country wildlife, Dave was even able to communicate with them. His conversations with the chickens sounded like this:
“Bock bock bu-goo!”
As many of you know, Brook Farm has a beautiful garden Sarah and Will open to the public. They trusted Dave and I to do some of their winter transplanting.
“Let’s go dig vague holes and throw stuff in them.” –Dave
If our gardening or other work got quite taxing, Dave tended to get carried away and yell.
For most of a week, Dave and I undertook the massive task of cleaning and organizing Will’s tool barn, a task that had never been attempted by anyone in history. It went like this:
“There’s goop on this, watch out for the goop, mind the goop.” –Dave
Dave finds a large piece of piping and I try to take it without getting hit on the head.
“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.” –Amanda
“Pipe down.” –Dave (groan)
“It’s rubbish, it’s rubbish, throw it away, it’s rubbish,” Dave chants throughout the process.
“Why’d you throw this away?” –Amanda
“I don’t know. There’s 900 of them and I didn’t think they needed the 901st one.” –Dave
When we finished with the barn, we deserved a snack. We still tend to get excited about how British our snacks are.
“I’m literally making a snack of tea and crumpets.” –Dave
“Don’t you love our life?” –Amanda
“Yeah. Pretty awesome.” –Dave
Will might ask us for help in the evenings with some task he was trying to complete. Like cutting down a monstrous rose bush in the rain. He had no sympathy for any punctures you might suffer from the 2-inch thorns.
“No wingeing. You lose points for every Ow.” –Will
Will’s dismissive attitude toward pain was par for the course at Brook Farm. We were never surprised to see him with blood stains on his clothes or doing something dangerous like balancing on a fallen tree while trying to cut off a branch with a chainsaw.
“He probably should be dead by now. I mean that in a caring way.” –Dave
After finishing with whatever dangerous but whinge-free evening task Will required, Dave liked to relax and watch sports on the telly. He had a strong grasp of rugby, in particular.
“They kind of squish the ball out of their behinds and then they can pick it up again.” –Dave
While Dave watched sports, I was more likely doing something useful, like washing our clothes. I get really excited about clean clothes, although I generally call them the wrong thing.
“I have clean, dry pants! … Trousers.” –Amanda
“Trousers. We don’t want to hear about your pants.” –Sarah
On really exciting nights, we went to the Rose and Crown for our monthly pub quiz. Questions like, “Mammoth Cave National Park is located in which U.S. state?” elicited some embarrassing squealing from the American table, while questions about crying in space lead to Will asking for more specifics:
“Are we talking about in space naked, or in space inside something?”
Finally, one of our favorite things to do at Brook Farm was to stay up too late with Will, having deep discussions over lovely bottles of wine. Those conversations had a wide range, from talking about his marriage to Sarah:
“I’m 10 times the man I would have been”
to his advice for using urine to cure my hand rash:
“Well, it’s on your hand, you at least have the choice as to whether it’s yours or somebody else’s. If it’s on your back, you don’t.”
to his friendly assessment of Dave’s professional abilities:
“As a maths teacher, your grasp on anything vaguely numeric seems a bit tenuous.” –Will
“Any reasonable maths can be done with estimation.” –Dave
And that is what a Workaway day at Brook Farm looks like.