I was raised on a Small Holding on top of a Welsh Mountain. My parents used to work in London making lots of money until, they decided to give it all up to become Homesteaders.
I am eternally grateful for the decision they made. I had an idilic childhood. We had chickens, geese, ponies, goats, rabbits, cats and dogs. I would spend my days (when not in school) roaming free.
Although it was idilic, my experience of being raised alongside animals, kept me from becoming sentimental. I saw birth and death in its full glory; I saw the blood and guts.
I saw stillborn puppies, chickens eaten by Mr Fox and animals that were so sick they had to be “Put to Sleep”. I spent hours sat on a hey bale waiting and watching, as my father helped our goat give birth. It was shocking, messy, awesome and real. My life was full of joy and tears, sadness and excitement and respect for every life we were responsible for.
As an adult, I spent nearly twenty years living in the city until I had my own children. We have now been living in rural Somerset for ten years and all the skills I learnt from my childhood have returned. I know things I did not even realise I knew, they are part of me, they are in my DNA. If an animal is hurt or sick, I know what care they need (mostly). I know how to break up clay soil, store carrots through the winter, which wild berries are edible and I know how to fix a chicken’s broken leg with a lolly pop stick!
I also have trust. I instinctively know, when to leave mother nature alone to do her work and when it is time to step in to lend a helping hand. I have learnt, interference is not always necessary or welcomed and can make things worse.
This learning, also informs my role as an Unschooling parent. It is easy to get caught up in the belief that my children need my interference to learn things. After all, this is how children have been taught in main stream education since the introduction of the school system. Just as in nature, a child’s learning unfolds in its own time. A child gives birth to an idea, which they follow until their interest in it dies, which then makes way for the next idea. This is the natural rhythm of learning, this is the natural rhythm of all life.