Yesterday we had to ask a wwoofer to leave.
Conrad from Germany had been with us for some weeks, and had been a cheery and willing enough worker.
But he was hard to raise in the mornings. He quite often he had stomach pains, and couldn’t do any work, especially in the mornings. He went to a Goulburn doctor, who did blood tests and could find nothing.
We had difficulties communicating. Conrad’s English was not so good, initially, so maybe it was that. But after a while we realised that Conrad was eager to help, and would quickly visualise how he could do the job. The trouble was, if we wanted the job done a different way (because we had additional information, and needed to achieve other goals too) then Conrad could not let go of his first idea. He would get really anxious and revert to his first idea whenever we were not looking.
We did work out strategies to deal with this. So this was difficult and often time-consuming for us, but manageable. We had to explain our perception of the situation to the other wwoofers, who had become completely frustrated with him. Once we were all working together on this, we found that Conrad was a bit more flexible when his stress levels were lower.
Over time, we came to realise that Conrad was drinking considerable amounts of alcohol, by himself, at night. Which in retrospect now seems obvious, but people can be rather good at covering these things. I think that much of Conrad’s inability to work some days was simply hangover, and perhaps some withdrawal symptoms.
We realised that we had been losing bottles of wine and spirits, so we checked Conrad’s room. Sure enough, there was a bottle of our sherry there, some of our wine, and other things. Also there were some of my prescription drugs there, which I guess Conrad must have been mixing with alcohol. Allison checked with Google which said that this combination could stop his heart.
Also we found a sharp kitchen knife jammed repeatedly into his windowsill.
So we asked Conrad to leave and escorted him to the railway station.
Life at Cockatrice Farm often sounds quite idyllic, and really it frequently is. The combination of young people from different countries at our wacky farm can be enormous fun.
Conrad is the second person we have asked to leave at short notice, and there have been others who we’ve moved on earlier than they would have liked. We are a lot more accommodating and accepting than a commercial business would be, but there are limits.
Conrad is heading back to Germany. His parents have the details, and will be looking for appropriate treatments for him there.
Apart from that serious stuff, we still have cold mornings but we’ve had a few lovely sunny days.
I have started Gawaine the young colt (11 months old) on clicker training. He quickly worked out that touching the bright yellow end of the stick gets a ‘click’ (from a clicking toy in my hand) and then a treat.
He has a couple more things to learn, then I’ll get him touching a halter (head straps) then teach him to wear it, and be led around.
Then I’m sorry to say that the veterinary surgeon will come around to geld (castrate) him. He’s already getting a bit frisky with the old mare in the next paddock, and his mum. Gelding will settle him down further, and I think he will be a lovely horse to ride.
Gianluca has taught us to play Scopa (sp?), a Napolitan card game which uses a distinctive pack. The rules are quite bizarre but they are starting to make sense. Chance seems to play a large part, but Gianluca strangely enough usually wins….