March to September 2016 – what happened since my last post
Since my last report, there is some time passed and MANY things changed. Obviously, I needed that time before I start off for real, but now I will for sure.
by Sheida Nasseri (guest blogger)
Read the original post and look at the photos and videos here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.com/2016/09/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.html
Let’s catch up what happened so far (in short cut):
I did travel to a few spots, always with friends who inspired me to do what I think is right for me. Nevertheless, I did not dare just to quit without knowing what will be my next step, what my next job, how to realize what I want or more, what do I really want. I know I love to travel, take pictures and be around people, animals and try the most crazy activities, but what kind of job description is this? I started to research and to search and to search and it got me from jobs in Alaska to the very corners of China. In the meanwhile something else happened, I found love. Well, that’s typical. I want to go away and travel the world and I fall in love with a German guy in Czech Republic/Prague. It kinda throw me back a little, but still he told me that if it makes me unhappy, I should follow my dreams and if it works out, at one point we will be at the same place again. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then I got an idea, maybe, it will be the right thing to do some volunteering work and take the time I need to figure out what I really wanna do? I was not sure yet where I wanna go or what to do exactly, but at one very special morning on the 10th of May, I just got so upset in the doing something I don’t have any passion for, that I decided to quit on that very same day. First, I was relieved, then I think scared and at one point very sure that was just the right decision. If you think rational about it, what am I scared off? I saved some money to make sure that I will survive a while without a job, I will do some volunteering which is always good in your CV, AND just in case everything does not work out as I wish, I always can find a job! Even if it is not the perfect job with a high salary, but I am capable of finding a job very fast and secure me financially. So what am I afraid of? That I finally could find something what I really like and be happy?
After all this thoughts and preparations, I finally decided that I want to find a volunteer place somewhere nearby (so that I could still see my boyfriend) and I would like to try a dogsled farm as I liked it so much in Norway. I really found two places, one in czech republic and one in Austria. After a few messages I decided that I will go to Austria. After such a long time it would be nice to understand the local language. Addionally, I liked that this dogsled farm used the dogs not only for races, but also for therapy reasons with kids, youths and adults. I got the place and arranged that when I get along with the hosts, I will start mid of September and stay there until Dec ’16/Jan ’17.
Dogsled Farm, 11th of September 2016
On Sunday, 11th of September 2016 my boyfriend and I planned to go to Austria, so that he can bring me to the volunteer place. It almost looked like I am not going to make it, because I felt so sick on that morning. I have to admit, I felt the whole week sick due to my excitement – this damn sensitive stomach =P I took some pills, lay down for half an hour and I felt strong enough to leave. The dogsled farm is called Snowdragons and is located by Gnadendorf, but not in the small city, no, between Gnadendorf and Wenzersdorf. So when you need something to buy, you have to drive at least 10km – well that’s in the middle of nowwhere right? Lukas and Birgit, the hosts greeted us very friendly and showed us around. The most exciting part was of course the dog shelters. There was a lot of barking around the corner and 18 Siberian Huskies were greeting me through their shelters. In the beginning, he only let his yard dog Abraxis out, what a big a beautiful exemplar. I have to admit, at first sight, they really are impressive and huge! Definitely in comparison to me =P especially when they jump up on you. Additionally to the hosts, there is Maria, she is from New Zealand is 22years old. Then, there are Miriam and Angelika, who are working in between on the farm when help needed. It is part of their practical year in school and is counted as an internship. They are both 16years old. The girls are really lovely 🙂
Update 24th September
I think, after being two weeks here (with a weekends interruption due to the wedding of my boyfriends stepbrother which I attended) I would say, I slowly get used to the life on the Snowdragon farm. It’s been a really tough week and it is still not over yet, today there will be a group coming of 13 people who will stay until tomorrow. But let me start telling you what happened so far.
Last week, I needed to get used to all dogs and their names and how to feed them and in which order, and so on. It is really tough, to carry the big bucket full with meat, veggies, rice and water and to manage to get inside of the kennels without the dogs jumping on you. I am getting better at it. Then, there are of course a lot of tasks which include cleaning and maintaining the yard, the house and the kennels of the dogs. People, who are visiting the farm, are just seeing the end result. The way it looks very nice and enjoy the time with the dogs, there is a lot of work behind the final result.
When I returned from the wedding, the real work started. We had on Tuesday a school group coming for three/four hours. 27 children in an age of 10/11 years old!!!! OMG!!! I can tell you, that’s pretty tough 😀 but to be honest, the kids were amazing! They loved the dogs so much and played all games so motivated. First, we did a cart race with the kids, to get a little bit of energy wasted – we played it twice and both times the boys won. But we always say, the boys are the stronger and faster, but the girls are the ones, who are cleverer.
Then, they get to play a Quiz with questions about Huskies and the answers were hidden somewhere in the yard. Later on they got to spent time with the dogs in the yard, and then, we went for a hike. The kids got a map and they had to find their way back to the farm – kinda funny because they really were not that good in map reading, but we were not allowed to give them any advice (as if I had a clue, for me, that area was also very new 😀 ). After we returned all savely, they got to spent a little bit more time with the dogs before they had to say Goodbye, which most of the kids really didn’t want to.
Before and after a group is coming, everything needs to be clean and the tent needs to be cleaned as well. They use the facilities inside the house, so that needs to be cleaned as well. Lukas and Birgit are working on a cultivation which includes rooms for sleepover, a bathroom and kitchen for the guests. So far, they used all facilities inside the house, meaning the bathroom is much more ocupied than usual =P
After the group left we had a team meeting and Lukas told us, that the next days the weather will be cold enough in the morning so that they will be able to go for a cart run with all dogs. He told us which dogs have to be lined up in which order. So on Wednesday, we needed to get up around 6am to feed the dogs at 6.30am and then to get them ready. Put the harness on and get the cart outside ready – Well, let’s say it this way; the first time, we kind of sucked =P
Marie, Angelika and I, we put first the wrong cart outside, then we put on the harness on Foppa, which we were not allowed, because he can get so excited that he would chew his harness off. He needs to get ready last! It was so stressful, all dogs went crazy, we forgot to open the gate before we started to get ready, I felt SO stressed!!! BUT, as soon Lukas released the line and the dogs could start running, all dogs went silently and just run perfectly in line. Furthermore, we thought we just go inside and wait, because they will be away for at least twenty minutes. So we had breakfast and then went outside to find out that they were already back and almost all dogs were back in their kennels. I felt really bad. We went then inside and had a feedback talk. All mistakes were mentioned and noted, so that for the next run (next morning) we would be prepared!
Then Marie, Angelika and I took the puppies and Duke for a hike (they are not going for training). Around 2pm the next group arrived. They were 4 young adults in the age between 16 and 19yrs old and three coaches. They are from a vocational orientation training facility. They let the young adults to try out different kind of work and let them participate in projects, so that they’ll know which job they are going to do. In the beginning, when a group arrives, there is always the same kind of routine. They get first to see the dogs, Braxi is greeting all of them so kind and sweet that all of them fall immediately in love with him. Lukas is explaining some main rules, how they have to behave around the dogs, what they really like, what will stress them and then they are allowed to the backyard and we let out the first two kennels. Then we change and they get to know slowly all dogs a bit better. Depending on the group, for example, when they are a bit older like this group, they can go for a hike and they are allowed to wear the hiking belt (it is a belt which looks and works pretty much like a climbing belt and is made for pulling purposes). We (volunteers and interns) are accompanying them, so nothing bad happens and they find their way back. That’s what we did on that day. This group was going to stay until Friday. They grilled in the evening and had some beer and just enjoyed themselves. We girls needed to feed the dogs in the evening. I was really tired on that day and another early morning was still ahead of us.
Thursday, we were up quite on time and started feeding the dogs a bit earlier so we were prepared and had more time. We did not repeat one of the mistakes we made the day before. I also didn’t feel that much stressed, although as they wanted to run, the two Lead dogs got tangled. But with help of Birgit, we managed it and they were off. We waited for them to return and helped to unleash all of them. Lukas said, that there are just small improvements to make but we improved a lot to the day before (whoop whoop :)). Maria, Angelika and I went again for a hike with Duke and the puppies. Unfortunately, Maria stepped into a small hole on the ground and somehow sprained her ankle. It got swollen, so we let her rest pretty much the rest of the day. The group played on that morning a game called “Lost”. The groups will be divided into two groups which will be taken separately to some spot further away. They have to find the right way back with only some hints to a certain meeting point. Lukas and I were checking the route the day before and wrote down all hints for direction. If everything goes right both groups will meet at the meeting point. As of the meeting point both groups have one half of a map, which combined will lead their way back to the Snowdragon Farm. That gave us some time to relax and go for some grocery shopping. Around lunchtime we waited for them in the backyard. Then we all could have lunch. In the meanwhile, Miriam, the second intern arrived as well. The afternoon was pretty chilled, just enjoying the company of the dogs. Then we went for one more hike, before the group relaxed in the evening at the open fire with some beer and food. Lukas told us girls, that there won’t be a morning training for the next days, because the weather is getting warmer again. Somehow a relief for all us – we can sleep one hour longer, although on the other side, I have to wait longer to get a ride with the cart…
On Friday, I felt so much better. I slept good, recovered and was totally motivated. We fed the dogs, and later on the group wanted to go for one more hike. We just went for 25min. because the weather was already too hot. The group then packed their stuff and had one last meal. Lukas talked the day before to one of the coaches and had an offer to make to the group. He has one cart which is really old and needs some maintainance work and also some new colour. He asked, if the group is willing to work on that cart. In exchange, he they could visit us again and they get a drive in a cart with the dogs for free. They were thrilled by that idea. Finally, they packed and went away. In the afternoon, we spent some time with cleaning work, but it wasn’t too much. When Birgit came home she asked us if we would like to join her for some hiking up the hill. We did, so we drove with two cars. Birgit with Miriam and Laska and Nova, I with Angelika and Aliy and Star. It was so much fun. We enjoyed it a lot, the views were just amazing!!! We met on the way some people who had two dogs and they stood still when we passed by and asked if the two puppies were wolves 😀 I couldn’t blame them, they really do look like wolves.
In the evening we played some board games. I have to admit, I almost forgot how much fun it is playing board games. As Lukas is really competitive, unlike me (nooooot) we had a lot of fun. We played the game Ubongo (Ubongo Quick Start Rules). Later on that evening, the girls and I played the ladder game (board game). What a perfect day =) I fell asleep quite early, but very happy 😀