If I told you I spent all day at a conference about goats what might you say? Some of you might of gone huh? A more sarcastic response would obviously involve my current choice of beard and well done to you if you managed to think that before reading the next bit. Let me explain…
I am not sure if you caught it but I said that I might struggle with my next bit of WWOOFing work that was going to happen in Hiroshima well I got here yesterday and struggle is really such a soft words for the conflicts that are happening in me right now. I expected there to be a huge difficulty with language and expected to get over that using my intelligence and the fact that I am very willing to get stuck sadly despite my willingness currently I am seriously struggling. If you put the massive language barrier to one side I have not really done any sort of major work yet. On top of that I have had food cooked and provided for me and even been given a beer sounds like a dream right, work less, get to eat without having to make it and I get to drink free beer, some would say I have landed on my feet but I am struggling with it.
Maybe the last farm was expecting me to do way too much but I enjoyed being occupied, it made the days go fast and it felt like I had earned a rest at the end of the day. I even enjoyed (as I always have done) making my own dinner or making dinner with the other WWOOFers, I am the only one here at the moment and I cannot see them taking on any more help right at this moment so that means I am on my own for the next two weeks. This is not the issue, the issue is that unless I feel like I have earned the rest of the end of the day my brain is going to keep on questioning why I am here and I will (as I do now) feel like I am taking advantage of these very nice people and I am really not going to enjoy that. When I got here yesterday and went through the relevant formalities with Shimohara san he told me to get changed, it was pitch black outside and I was not expecting to do stuff this late at night, but I am willing to help and get done what needs to be done. From the workshop he got out one of these rotary blade cutter type things, it’s basically a small engine attached to a long pole which at the end of there is a very sharp metal disc that spins really fast. It cuts clean through all sorts of plants and possibly limb if you are stupid enough to get in the way of this thing, I wondered what his plan was. He begins to detach the old saw blade from the machine and has problems with it. He carts the machine and both of us in the truck to a nearby garden centre and buys a monkey wrench that is big enough to help him undo the bit keeping the circular disc on. Disc changed we jump back in the truck and turn up a very dark road and he motions to get out so I do.
Surrounding us is a very tall high grass like plant that is covering everywhere, he hands me a torch and points at the field which I then shine the torch on. Switching on the machine he begins to attack the grass with the machine, I stand, aim the light so he can see something and watch in disbelief staying well away from the sharp end of the machine. Suddenly the machine pings off of something and he steps bad a little, covered in the tall grass is a metal pole poking about a meter above ground. There was no way he could of seen it in this darkness, the torch is not really doing that much but it is doing something. He gathers himself, goes around the pole and continues to cut, the thoughts in my head are telling me that this guy is probably potentially mad no matter how nice he might be. We continue to scythe our way through the grass, he hits another pole this time cutting it almost clean off and within 10 minutes of me dodging where he is throwing this machine around and yet still trying to help by pointing the torch in the right direction he stops. Putting the machine down (much to my relief) he grabs a crate from the truck and begins to gather the grass, now this I can help with! I put the torch on top of the car and start to also gather the grass still wondering why on earth we are doing this in the dark. Grass gate red we head back to the house where he takes a crate and gives the grass to his baaing set go goats (yagi in Japanese). Oh right, now it makes sense and I bring the rest of the grass still in the truck to him again trying to be helpful. With that done we head in, I grab a shower and get changed and we sit and eat dinner that had been prepared for us by his wife which also includes one beer each.
I head to bed that night wondering what exactly have I got myself into, is this how it’s going to be every night? Me trying hard to hold a conversation in a language I have a basic grip of? Sleep happened and I got up the next morning at 07:00 and told myself to be ready. The morning’s task was to head back to the grass we had cut at night, cut a bit more and gather it again for the goats, with this done we sat and had breakfast (again prepared for us) and then again headed back out. Not in the van this time which made me very curious indeed but in the car. Shimohara san was not even wearing his ‘farming’ clothes so once again my brain tried hard to figure out what on earth was happening. We went to a few places where Shimohara san knows people, the local farmers market, a company (who I think he works for) called JA (no idea what they do) and then finally a fairly long drive to what looked initially like some sort of mini-hospital. In the car park there was a little picture of a goat and by now I was really confused. We enter a little conference room where some guy is at the front talking a lot about goats and I think how to identify what type of goat is what and where goats live (in the world) and what they are used for. Of course all this is in Japanese and despite not really being able to understand it the speaker lacks personality and delivers his stuff in a very dry and direct manner, I find it very difficult to stay awake. “Am I at some sort of Goat conference?” I begin to wonder, I was hoping that we don’t stay long, maybe he has just come to say hi to someone or watch one particular speaker and the room breaks for lunch around 12. I have sat through about an hour of this, sitting outside with a bento box I read what I can of the advert outside the building. It has a very friendly picture of a goat, some Japanese writing and some dates and times
- 2013/10/12 – 10:00-17:00
- 2013/10/13 – 10:00-14:00
I was indeed at a conference all about goats in a language I do not understand and I have to sit politely and feign some sort of interest. The next three hours were some form of torture, I have nothing to occupy my brain, I cannot really sleep it would be probably disrespectful to my host (who is really into goats) so I fight my brain wanting to sleep and sit through the whole thing. Okay it could be worse… lot’s worse but when your not doing anything or something you hate you know just how time can go so slowly. 17:00 eventually came and for some reason Shimohara’s wife came to get me and we had a random conversation about stuff before she took me for some Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki. But wait it does not end there, when we get back to the house she brings me in a beer and a packet of Wasabi flavoured crisps. Sounds like I have it made right? Yeah but I have a serious issue with this and I am currently trying to tell my brain to relax, the work will pick up (or at least I hope it will) otherwise this might be a very odd 2 weeks for me (I start moving again on the 25th).