UK farming part 1 : Calves

When I was on a placement in Dorset I became really engaged with farming. I visited some of the best farms in the UK and I also saw standard, average and below par ones. I really saw how different each farm is, met some really dedicated farmers and I want to write about what I know and see as a vet student and future vet.

So I’m going to write a series of blogs about different aspects of farming

My goals with farming is that I believe we should concentrate on the quality of production rather than the quantity. Humans don’t need dairy and meat to survive but I enjoy eating it and think as it’s not going to be stopped any time soon we might as well produce it in the best way possible. I want to stop mass production and bring it back to concentrating more on welfare and environment within farming. If we as consumers change our mindset to meat being a treat rather than taking it for advantage then we’d be prepared to pay more for it. Ideally, more money would go back to the farmers and they can spend more money per animal because they’re getting more for each animal and don’t have to produce so many or so much. It isn’t viable to keep producing at the rate we are. But actually if we shared it around better and only ate meat/dairy, say, once or twice a week then everything would be so much more manageable and hopefully fairer and better for all lives involved.

I don’t want producing as much as possible for as cheap as possible (because that’s what consumers are asking for) but producing a good all round product for the amount of money that it costs to do so.

So as a vet,

Welfare is most important to me. We also need to make sure that a farmer’s business is sustainable and viable for their animals sake and our business with the farmer. We have to find ways to make us useful that doesn’t necessarily mean us getting them to spend money on drugs. Especially antibiotics, we’re all driving away from using them. And the best way to avoid antibiotics is to prevent the disease in the first place. We’re being encouraged to actually use our time and knowledge more wisely. Spend an hour or two on a farm, look for areas that are great, look for areas that could improve or could be causing some of the problems that the farmer talks about.

The calf pens made a huge stir a couple of years ago.  There were  large calves in these pens. I was talking to the vets who knew the farm and they were gobsmacked. Ironically, they said, it was one of the best farms in the area.

http://www.itv.com/news/2017-03-28/heartbreaking-footage-of-calves-caged-in-pens-at-farm-which-supplies-milk-to-marks-spencer-is-released/

The farm in particular had had a recent positive reactor on it’s tb test. This means that the farm was essentially shut down because it has been found to have an animal that may or may not have tb. It is immediately not allowed to remove (sell on) or bring on to the farm any more animals. Therefore these calves were due to be sent to another farm for rearing. But they were no longer allowed to be moved for another 120days at least. (until the next tb test is 100% negative). The farmer wasn’t set up to keep these calves so had to make do. This was the only way he could keep them.

As vets we really like these calf pens. (but yes those calves do look pretty big for those pens) They mean calves can be by themselves while they are really young (and most vulnerable to catching infections) but still see and interact with other calves. Then when they’re older and stronger they can be moved into group pens. Being outside, it means they’re less likely to get respiratory problems and pneumonia which is very common when they’re kept In sheds with little ventilation. The small pen is easy to keep clean and it’s very easy to keep track of each calf and reduce the spread of infection. If one of the calves comes down it’s only a couple that are affected not 25 etc, like you might see being kept in a barn.

A well fed and healthy calf should thrive within this kind of housing. A good bed of hay in each hutch and they’ll easily be warm enough.

A great sign of a happy and healthy calf is when they jump and kick their legs out and run about. And actually, I’ve seen a lot of playful happy calves in these kind of hutches.

Calf hutch / individual / polyethylene / with yard

When calves get old enough to move into group pens they often go into a group of up to five so that they can still be monitored more easily for any health problems. The older and stronger they get the bigger the group they can go into essentially. I loved the farm photographed below. The calves here have collars on that have a specific chip for each calf. When the calf feels hungry it learns to go to the machine (not pictured) which will read the chip and the machine lets down it’s food quota. This way the farmer can see which animals are eating as expected, which need more and which aren’t eating as much as they should be. Those that aren’t can then be identified and checked out to make sure they aren’t becoming ill.

Each calf also had a temperature gauge on it’s ear ID. the thermometers work by reading the temperature of each calf every hour or so. If a calf’s temperature has been repeatedly too high for six hours or so, the thermometer light beams red which will notify the farmer to keep an eye on the calf. Usually the thermometer gauges the very early stages of an illness, so early in fact that there are no other symptoms and therefore we can’t treat the animal! or we just have to guess! But it’s fantastic for being prepared and being able to monitor each animal.

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There is quite a lot of controversy regarding calves and the separation from their mother after birth.

It’s a difficult one and most vets will generally weigh up their knowledge and experience and come up with an opinion. Personally, I don’t think it’s a huge deal taking a calf off of it’s mother within a day or two of being born. Having worked with the animals a lot. A calf will be happy and thrive if it is fed and has interaction with other animals. It’s not very natural I definitely agree but I could argue that it was justifiable. Some people argue that letting a calf stay with it’s mother for a week or two and then taking it away is better. But actually, they have had time to build up a bond, a routine and learned how to deal with the environment that includes each other. To suddenly take that away from the two, i think that could be crueler? But it’s controversial and very debatable. There is also quite a noticable lack of mothering qualities in milking cows. It is believed that they were bred like it. But a beef cow will generally fight off anyone threatening her and her calf yet a dairy cow, though they are generally less temperamental anyway, don’t put up any kind of a fight if you go in and take their calf.

The reason a calf is taken from it’s mother is so that the mother can start producing milk for the milk industry, rather than give it to her calf.

There are a lot of other reasons for why we take a calf away from it’s mother. Disease is a big reason. There are a number of diseases that spread from mother to calf. Milk and faeces are the main way they are spread. Johnes is a great example of a disease and It’s a life long disease in a cow. It’s pretty complicated and long winded but essentially the key to getting rid of the disease is the either kill every animal with it (which is usually high if it is present in the herd and not realistic to kill them all). Or we can stop the next generation from catching it and therefore over a number of years reduce the number of animals in the herd that have it.  Stop the calves from catching it and by the time they are adults they are less likely to catch it. but a calf that catches it off it’s mum will carry it for the rest of it’s life and never grow as well or be as productive or healthy.

Another reason why calves are taken from their mothers is to make sure that they get the right amount and quality of milk.

So, yes, we create a lot of the problems by farming intensively that we then have to solve. Because we ask cows to produce so much milk the quality (so the amount of fat and protein) can hugely vary. The amount can also vary too. Because of this we can’t control how much a calf will get. The first drink for a calf is the most important. The colostrum contains a huge amount of fat, protein and antibodies that will help the calf fight disease until it can develop its own. A calf that doesn’t get a decent amount will really struggle to get on in life, it will probably catch more diseases, probably not grow as well and just not thrive or live as long. And therefore to control the health of the calves, when there are so many calves around sometimes it’s easier to take on the full management and know exactly how much a calf is getting by feeding it directly yourself..

Calves for now

 

I love cows

There will be more to come

Rebecca x

 

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Looking back.

It’s scary how two months have gone since my last blog post. My initial thoughts were that It has just been an empty kind of two months. It has felt like I’ve just been eating, working and sleeping. The eating and sleeping bits have been great! But I haven’t enjoyed them as much as I could have because of the working bit.

I don’t have much to complain about, I’m just being worked hard at the moment. I want more freedom, I want to know what the day is going to bring and when I will be able to go home. I’m quite fed up of being a student and I’d like a job and to stay in one place for more than two weeks is a dream at the moment. It feels like i’m tip-toeing around trying to please everyone and even pander to their whims just to pass each week. I just can’t be arsed anymore. I feel like maybe I don’t need to prove myself anymore. It’s a nice feeling in a way.

But here are some of the good things I’ve been up to in the past two months!

Dorset

I spent a month around Dorset on some farm placements. I explored Chesil beach before spending the weekend with Rosie and her family. We visited the beautiful Sherborne Castle.

I spent two weeks with two other vet students in Shitterton. It was really nice to get to know the two of them. It was a hard two weeks with tons of work to do but we still managed to have fun and visit a couple of pubs while we were there.

I have also discovered Huel, a meal replacement type thing. It’s now what I have for lunch. It is vegan and supposed to have all the dietary requirements needed. I’m usually and was at first against the idea of it. But actually I bought it in the end to make it easier to travel and not to have to worry about lunch, to be able to monitor how much i’m eating better and i think really, i just wanted some control over what I was eating and in my life in general! It has been a blessing regards lunched. Just three scoops and add some water and i’m good to go. I don’t have to get up early or make sure I get to a shop or buy anything. Just that extra thing to not worry about. Possibly lazy, but I’ll take it.

Utrecht

I visited Utrecht university for another farm placement. It was a very long and tiring and sometimes hard two weeks. But it was fantastic getting to spend a decent amount of time in one European city. It was great to get to know a place. We cycled into the campus every morning and evening and checked out a decent number of pubs.. again.

I love stroopwafels! Ah!

Rosie even managed to come and visit at the weekend and we rented a gorgeously cute little apartment looking over one of the canals. It was lovely. We all checked out the gay bars one night forgetting how bad we are at drinking these days.

We did all the touristy classics going up the tower and going on a boat trip.

 

London

But I was glad to finally get home and chill with the Doggo!

I’m working in central london for three weeks and got to stay with Rosie for nearly two of them which was great fun! One Tuesday evening we bought tickets to a book talk with Ali Smith at Foyles. We’re both big fans of her work and just her in general. She is so grounded and fair and honest and sees the world in such an incredible way.

One evening we watched a documentary about an anorexia clinic in London. Rosie knew of someone who had been into one. It was a hard documentary to watch. But a very thought provoking one. I have had some issues in the past that could have been a lot lot worse and I watched the people in the clinic and wondered why I seemed able to avoid getting as low as they were. Why i seem able to get by by knowing my signs and managing them yet others can’t and suffer so much more.  This will have to be another blog sometime in the future. It just made us think about personality types and how difficult, demanding, intimidating and out of control our world is at the moment.

Glasgow

Rosie went to Glasgow while I still had work in London. She went up for a concert on Saturday evening. I joined her on Friday evening and we had some of the weekend to chill and explore Glasgow together. Rosie knows the place a little from previous work but i had never been. It was a beautiful weekend which probably made it even better, but I loved Glasgow. It has some amazing places and spaces, parks and museums, shops and resturants. We got a hostel looking over a park and it was beautiful. Crisp air with everyone walking around in scarves, lots of doggies, we could see ourselves living there. Maybe one day!

On the evening of the concert we met up just before to grab some dinner. We went to a Southern India restaurant which was delish! Never eaten Southern before, we tried different chapatis and a lamb curry and it was so yum!

I was a bit of a soppy git and bought Rosie some roses and a keyring with out photo on it before the concert. It was a big deal for her and I could tell she was quite nervous. But she was fantastic and pleased with how it went. She definitely underestimates how good she is, but I feel like most people do when they’re trying to get somewhere. It’s hard to know what people expect and want and are looking for… in many careers i think.

After the concert we checked out a couple of gay bars and got ridiculously tipsy and giddy and no drinks whatsoever (cheap dates) and headed back picking up some  Belgian fries on the way home 😛 nommm

In the morning we checked out one of the restaurants Rosie has been too for breakfast and I had a full English which was FULL ON.

Glasgow

London

Back to London. I Stayed at Rosie’s for a couple more days and we had dinner with some of her friends and made mince pies one evening! We were both doing different hours to each other so often we didn’t have much time in the mornings or evenings but I love spending an hour or two just chilling with her or even just talking about our day in bed before one of us falls asleep first.

I’ve got into crosswords and puzzles again, first time since I was a kid! The guys in my placement group have been picking up the newspaper on the train and we’ve been working on them during lunch. It made me want to go back home and finish them with Rosie. We spent a good couple of evenings working on them. We are rubbishly awful at the cryptic ones though!

I had the first Amnesty talk this week too! It wasn’t very well attended but it was really interesting to hear more about what Amnesty does and make some connections. I feel like our group can only get better and stronger as it’s only early days yet. It’s just a shame that I’m not on campus very often and so it is difficult to meet up regularly or get bits done.

Rosie has gone back up to Scotland for more work so I’m currently staying with my grandparents who live in central London too. I’m so lucky to have family in London.

I went to watch Young Marx last night at the Bridge theatre. It is supposed to be one of, if not the newest theatre in London. It was great, a fantastic theatre with leather seats. Different. Doesn’t have the same detail architecture that the older theatres have. But a nice big stage!. The play was great, really funny, definitely recommend. I got a £15 ticket and it was definitely worth it and I could see most of the stage, all of the action anyway!.

The story outline kind of annoyed me though. Marx in the play was an absolute arsehole that used and was awful to his friends, family and supporters and yet he got away with it because he was a genius. I don’t know. Just rung of ‘boys will be boys’ and that’s rubbish. It was funny and lighthearted but not a great message. There was remorse at the end of course. And it was a comedy but just a bit samey really.

You can see a photo of one of the cuties that I helped look after while being in London. It has reminded me of how much I enjoy small animal work. I really do enjoy both small and farm. And I wonder whether I could just do small animal. It would be quite a lot easier than finding somewhere that has both. Would I regret only going into one and not the other though?

 

So yeah! Actually really an amazing couple of months! Haha! I really don’t have anything to complain about. Just haven’t had a massive amount of time to myself to be able to write a blog I guess! I have basically been working and then chilling to recoup for the following day.

Na, yeah I have nothing to complain about in life.

I do feel used by my university and I am fed up of being a student but diddums! I’ll suck it up and keep going. There isn’t really a huge amount left!

Glad I have written this blog. Need to remind myself actually how great things are for me. You so easily get absorbed into the problems of you’re own life and forget how easy you actually have it.

Write again, sooner next time.

Rebecca x

Hope in the Dark

I’ve been reading ‘Hope in the Dark’ by Rebecca Solnit. I picked it up at the Hay Festival earlier on in the year. I kind of kept going to read it but then finding something else to read instead. I by chance watched Josie Long on IPlayer and she recommended the book, so then I had to read it.

I have started trying to form an Amnesty International society at my university. This book has been invaluable in getting me to think more about what it takes, thinking about what I’m actually doing and having realistic expectations.

The book was originally published in 2005 so a decent amount has changed and progressed since but it’s eerie how in a way it hasn’t at all and how well the book still applies… Different people, same situations etc.

There is a large focus on American politics. Bush and Blair and the time of the Iraq war beginning. This was slightly before my time (as in I was about 9 so not really aware of the world) so it was difficult to get as involved with the book as I hoped I would. But Solnit writes really well and I get the points that she was making. I found it difficult to fully gauge some of the significance of what was written.

Solnit has since added a number of Forewords to her newer additions which are great introductions.

So very broadly, the book for me, mostly told me about what activism is, what has been successful and what it means to be successful or to have success or to not succeed. There were some really key thought provoking chapters in the book. Sometimes seemed screamingly obvious but not something you’d necessarily think about too deeply.

A quote in the book from Paul Goodman

“Suppose you had the revolution you are talking about and dreaming about…  … How would you live, you personally, in that society? Start living that way now!”

Solnit looks into the emotions associated with activism and tragic events. Comparing despair and hope.

“Despair demands less of us, it’s more predictable and in a sad way safer. Authentic hope requires clarity – seeing the troubles in this world – and imagination, seeing what might lie beyond these situations that are perhaps not inevitable and immutable”

She looks at the different types of activists and news bringers. Those that do well in defeat and ‘doom’. This is linked to the psychology that activism is more bolstering identity that achieving results. ‘demonstrating one’s own virtue rather than the realisation of results’.  I think I can think of a number of people who would be pessimistic, assume to worst and not try to make it work and then take in the glory when it turns out that they’re right. (which was more likely to be the outcome anyway)

I found it very true that “tales of decline and fall have an authority that hopeful ones don’t”

But activism itself can generate hope because it already constitutes an alternative and turns away from the corruption at center to face the wild possibilities and the heroes at the edges or at your side.

The revolution that counts is the one that takes place in the imagination, many kinds of change issue forth thereafter, some gradual, some dramatic and conflict ridden – which is to say that revolution doesn’t necessarily look like revolution.

Being able to see the world differently to what is put in front of you can be the biggest step in a revolution. Solnit uses a fantastic analogy of a theatre. Civilians being the audience and the actors on stage being presidents, prime ministers etc Big wigs. We don’t see what’s going on back stage or anywhere else in the theatre. But sometimes we do, sometimes we can see through the actors and when enough of us have, that’s revolutionary and that’s what the bigwigs are scared of.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that sense that even if you don’t see success or you don’t feel like you’ve made a difference, actually you probably have. In a small way you may have supported a movement, spread a movement to more people and in that way starting to stimulate a change or progression.

“It’s always too soon to go home. Most of the great victories continue to unfold, unfinished in the sense that they are not yet fully realised but also in the sense that they continue to spread influence.”

This is Earth, it will never be Heaven

Perfectionists don’t make very good activists essentially. When anything less than total victory is failure, progression is not going to be able to be appreciated. There will always be cruelty, violence, destruction but we can reduced it. ‘There’s an inability to to recognise a situation in which you are traveling but haven’t arrived to the destination. The world is always being made and is never finished.’

Victory is not some absolute state far away but the achieving of it. It wasn’t the moon landings but the flight etc

“The way you win people over to your side is try to present the information from some perspective they’re familiar with”   Velasquez

A better world, yes; a perfect world, never.

Rebecca x

Bulk Market Dalston 

I was told about a bulk store near Dalston Junction so headed there to have a gander. I’m going away for a couple of weeks so bulking up on some dried fruits, nuts and seeds sounded like a good idea/ excuse / justification.

 

It was raining. I was very wet.

The shop was small but sold a good range of things. Spices (!) Dried fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, pasta and dried carbs, eggs, fruit and veg. They also had cheeses, washing up liquid and dog food! They had lots of alternative cleaning tools, cutlery and toilet roll! It was great. They generally had a couple choices of each. For example, for nuts they had walnuts and almonds. They also had chocolate buttons and yoghurt covered peanuts. Nom.

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I brought my own containers… Couldn’t find actual containers so made do. Ha lol.

So you weigh your containers when you enter the shop and write the weight on them before you fill them up.

I got dried apricots, raisins and sunflower seeds. I’d seen the copper scrubber online and had been keen to get it so treated myself. It all came to £12 which is a lot but for the amount I got and the shop being quite niche and good quality it’s not terrible. I’d definitely go back.

If I lived closer it would be great for popping in and filling up when needed. Somewhere I can refill my spice rack !

The woman behind the till was really sweet and helpful and was great to talk to her about her plastic free adventures. It’s been re-inspiring to see someone else keen to do their bit.

One person wont change the world but It’s the little things that do add up. If you’re passing by why not pop in? I have realised that I need to live in the world that I want to see. So no plastic and be nice to everyone and eventually maybe the world will all become like that too! 😉 ❤   I can dream

I had a massive cook off a couple of mornings ago. I’m going back to university next week for my next placement and I’m not looking forward to it. Long story, haha. Anyway the way to keep me happy is to make sure I have lots of nice food! So I have prepared some of the dishes to have Buddha bowls for lunch – guacamole, lentils and hummus. And i stewed some fruits to have with cereal or porridge. I finally made something of all the blueberries I froze. I made blueberry compote for porridge or desserts. I made a big batch of butternut soup and an even more massive batch of veggie bolognese. Boom. Happy Rebecca

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Also! I have been big time decluttering since I moved my stuff back home. There isn’t much space so I have donated probably over 50% of my books to local charity shops and same for my clothes and just things I like but never use. I realised that I had a lot of personal t-shirts that you couldn’t really pass on and was a shame to chuck out so I’m going to make this with them..

http://mypoppet.com.au/makes/2013/04/upcycle-style-braided-t-shirt-rug.html

Should be easy right?? 😉

Rebecca x

Change and ‘The Power’

I’ve been feeling pretty rotten over the last couple of days. Had episodes of probably what is vertigo, essentially, dizziness and that run down- bleurgh feeling. Feeling sea-sick as I woke up at 6:45 and as I tried to get out of bed the, ‘why am i doing this?’ question came to me and I got back in and emailed to say I wasn’t coming in. I have spent most of the day reading ‘Power’ by Naomi Alderman. I finished it. And i’m quite confused by how I feel about it.

I’ve had a look at other reviews of the book to get some other insights.

It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and I gorged on the first 100 pages or so because of how inventive it was . I think as the story developed it did lose some of it’s realistic appeal to me. Yes, the story is pretty fantastical but I feel it wasn’t supposed to be just that.

I really enjoyed the first 100 pages because I really felt a lot of aspects were covered by Alderman. It felt like there was a lot of clear messages to be taken from it. How different people coped and reacted to the changes that happened. I think it wasn’t what I thought because it wasn’t actually as nice and successful as I’d hoped. I think the idea that women are more powerful than men, to me, would mean that greater, fairer things would happen. This wasn’t the case and my naivety has been put to shame!  It isn’t power over another that is successful… Ever. It’s not dominance and submission (oi oi) but being on the same level and this is what this book shows. Too much power in any hands can be a bad thing.

The particularly poignant part in the book is quite early on and it is when women start rioting and cannot be controlled and are feared because of their power. There’s a dialect something like “what do we do?”,  “we kill them.”,  “But we can’t kill all the women in the world”

At this point it very is man vs woman. Which actually is totally pointless because both need each other.

And  it makes you think about other riots and wars. And you think, this is pointless too? We are at war against each other. It’s pointless. It’s power not wanting to be lost. But what are we actually fighting for? Those at the top already, what are they actually defending that’s worth defending anymore? Are we asking to be heard or asking to take over and be in charge?

Most minorities just want to be heard and to have fair treatment. That’s what the women’s marches, the LGBT marches that i’ve been on have been about. They were for me anyway.  How can humans be so anti-eachother? Just seems like such a daft concept when you take a step back and look and what we’re doing now and what we’ve done for ridiculous numbers of years. And for what?

I dunno, all I want is to achieve a couple of things that I’ve always wanted to achieve. Do good where I can and use what I have. Power has never been something I have been after so I wouldn’t know! #simplebutcompletelife 

I lost the flow of the book by the end. I don’t think I quite caught the point of some of the character’s stories, maybe I haven’t digested it well enough yet. I thought the book was very honest and fair. There wasn’t an agenda to the book I think apart from a look into power and where we are at the moment. I think I wanted Alderman to talk more about the injustice in parts of the world but she didn’t go into too much detail. Having read a book recently which I reviewed a lot of the countries talk about – India in particularly the reactions really resonated.

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So I’m moving out this weekend back home for the year. I’m on placements all over the UK and in other countries come next week so I’m pretty much going to be living out my car, Betty.

I’ve been in this little room for two years and It hasn’t dawned on me that I’m saying goodbye to it yet. I was reading and it’s been raining all day and with my cup of tea I saw a photo opportunity. My phone never sees what I see but it got close enough.

I’m half packed. It’s going to take a couple of trips. You can see the magazines i’ve yet to read and leaflets about jobs and careers on the side. You can see flowers that Rosie bought me. They’re probably past their best now but i’m not ready to let them go. There’s a half empty box for packing, my keyboard which was fun to play for the four weeks that it fitted in with my routine. My wooden post from one of the marches I went on. I intend to use it again at some point.. It did have a poster on it..

I do and don’t like the idea that I don’t know where I’ll be in a years time. I think I am naturally a home maker and I do want a home or nest of my own. My own nook. Makes travelling all the more special because you have something special to come back to. 

 I suppose I have just been in so many places that I’m just looking forward to not having too much upheaval for a short time. Until I get bored and a wandering eye ;).. 

Rebecca x 

 

 

 

Plastic Free Month: 15 days in!!

Hey!

So the 2nd week has gone much better. I’m getting used to not being able to use plastic and how to get around it.  I have accepted that it just takes a bit of extra organizing and a bit of compromising.

Carrying water with me, eating before I head out, picking up fruit and veg and always carrying a bag, finding time to cook a big batch. Cleaning is easy, though I do want to order a scour sponge i’ve seen online that’s plastic free and friendly etc, cloths just aren’t cutting it! Carrying deodorant, toothpaste and breakfast with me when I stay elsewhere, it’s not actually that hard.

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I went to the opera at the weekend and because I can be a bit of idiot and forget things, I ended up arriving a lot later that i meant to. Worked out fine for the opera but meant we didn’t have time to grab some proper food. We had to pop to a shop to get some sandwiches/on the go food. There was absolutely nothing that I could eat in any of these shops. I did however find a bar of chocolate in only cardboard and foil! Bingo!! It was beautiful!

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I have definitely been eating more healthily again. (shes says after talking about chocolate). Although I have started buying things in jars, such as jams, chutneys and honey, peanut butter. I don’t usually buy them (to be a little healthier and because they can relatively expensive..ish.. and i tend to eat a lot in a short space of time) but they’re great for adding a bit of extra flavour to things.

I had a massive craving for cheese (again with the healthy eating?!) while I was shopping the other day. I had a tupperware on me and the guy behind the counter agreed to fill my tupperware up with cheese!! Best day ever! Only down side is that I did have to have a sticker. So not plastic free. However it did made me think about the benefits of buying in bulk. I could have bought a packet of cheese half the size and used more than double the plastic. This will definitely be something I’ll be keeping up after this month is over.

 

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One issue that I’m having at the moment is that I could really do with some new shoes and a new blouse or two. I keep going to have a look in shops and online and am either unsuccessful or see the plastic tag and just think.. I cant’!! So in that respect I’m saving quite a lot of money. And actually it really is making me use what I already have and is encouraging me to think about what I have and what I could do instead. It’s also encouraging me to not really care either.

The photo with the chocolate bar you can see my shoes, I’d have loved to wear sandles with that outfit. Those shoes were the daintiest/ not over the top and kinda smart? things I could justify wearing. I got to the point where I was running out of time and just said bleurgh who actually cares and walked out wearing them. And you know…nothing bad happened! Excellent!

I have also realised how much I’m starting to do by myself again. So I go through phases of trying to be self sufficient, i grew some vegetables and herbs a couple of years back when I was living at home and I loved it! Can’t do that at uni. But what I have started to doing is making my own bread, vegetable stock, crisps, meals from scratch, buying bulk herbs from markets and freezing them, buying fruit from markets and dehydrating, freezing them. I’m hoping to make some jam or use them in cakes as well as eating them for breakfast.

As well as food, I wanted to buy some flashcards for studying the other day, but obviously they all come in plastic packaging. I realized that actually i already have tons of card and could make my own.

I am just naturally thinking of alternative things I could do. And it’s been a really cool couple of weeks. Really difficult in some respects. I went to another BBQ on Sunday but this time bought frozen veggie burgers in cardboard with me and that was fine. I could have made my own! But didn’t have enough time haha.

There are definitely cons!

For example, all the dried food I bought from wholefoods came in paper bags and when tired I keep forgetting to double check what I’m actually pouring on my porridge….!!

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Also, I can’t easily receive flowers as a gift this month because they all come in plastic packaging. Quite gutting really !!  😉  … it also means that I can’t buy any too so i’m saving a small fortune in gifts xD

Rebecca xx

P.S loving all the Pride stuff coming up in London!! ❤


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Relationships and Gender roles

This blog post has been brewing in my mind for a while. It’s quite a hard piece to write as I don’t want to come across badly, judge-y or stereotypical or like I’m speaking for everyone.

So as far as LGBTQ+ goes I would associate myself with bisexual the most. It doesn’t really work and I don’t really like categorizing people or myself because it’s so rigid, and however hard you try not to there are usually certain characteristics/traits that become associated with them.

So I grew up fancying boys, then men and I only remember a couple of bouts of ever even considering fancying girls. Looking back on it now It was pretty clearly a crush on a girl but at the time I put it down to just being in awe of them. I had just met them and thought they were great. I was also happy to move on and very quickly got over whatever it was.

I had a successive run of unsuccessful dates. Met some really great guys who I got on really well with and fancied like mad but they never came to anything. I just put it down to not meeting the right one and that being that. But it was sad and It was hard that nothing seemed to stick or be able to work. I had a particularly bad run in with a couple of dates and some of the men in my life disappointing me.  Without actively thinking it I went a year or so with being happy to be single and not really looking. Then summer 2015 hit,  I spent a lot of time with quite a few number of friends and mostly girls.

I don’t think there was ever really a point where I thought, I fancy you or I want to be more than friends but I started to think slightly differently about relationships. I started to think that If I could have such a great time with another woman would it be that bad if it became a relationship? Over the summer I remember thinking of it as a woman companion. And I began to realise that that’s really all I was after. Just someone to spend my time with, someone to be there for support and comfort. It took a bloody long time for me to consider it also being a romantic thing too. Definitely resisting the thought that I could be attracted to another woman. It was not a road I wanted to go down.

Heading into Autumn I did start to fancy a girl I knew, big time. And it was the same kind of light obsession I’d had with men that I fancied. I kept totally shtum about it for the next 5/6 months because It wasn’t something I wanted to think about. But it did upset me and it was really difficult to come to terms with. A big part of me was entirely up for it, there was nothing strange about how I was feeling, it was natural, it was growing love for another person. The other half of me was like,

It means you’re a lesbian,

how can you be a lesbian now?

how can you be a vet and a lesbian?

how would any of this even work?

what would people think?

I bet they wouldn’t even be surprised,

but you’re not butch or like a boy or even that much of tom boy.

I had every stereotype and prejudice of lesbians and LGBT people going.

I’m not sure what made me take the first steps. I think hearing of people in university coming out made me think about starting to get some answers. The reception to them coming out was not a negative one.

I’d been on Tinder since the summer, hadn’t gone on any dates though and don’t actually remember really talking to any guys that much. One night over Christmas I just swapped the option around so that instead of looking for men I was looking for women. First, I was really quite excited by the number of women I found on there that were at uni. Lots of surprising ones, girls that weren’t butch, some that were, some that I knew had had relationships with men too.

I didn’t contact anyone from uni and turned off my account whenever I wasn’t using it so that no one would find me.

But flicking through all the profiles I actually started to realise that there was a bit of a pattern in who I seemed to like the look of or wanted to chat too.

‘But is this just me looking at who’s friendly and who I might get on with.’ I often thought but then.., ‘well yes, but a companion is what I’m after isn’t it?’

So yeah, the weeks went on and I chatted to a couple of girls. I felt a bit of a weight off my shoulders as I got used to the idea of it all. In this time, I started chatting to Rosie too.

I got to the point where going on a date and confirming that these feelings might actually be a thing was what I needed to do. I still wasn’t convinced that I was actually attracted to women. It was all very confusing and I wanted an answer.

It took quite a while to build up guts to meet anyone, Rosie was my first date. And I said right from the start that I have no idea what I’m doing or I might just freak out and run away. I really thought that these feelings I have now might totally disappear when I wake up the next day. That feeling continued well into dating Rosie but it became more a concern that I would end up messing her around. But ha, no, the feelings haven’t gone away.

I still have a huge part of me that regularly tells me that what I’m doing is wrong and unnatural. But the other half of me has doubled in size and strength and pushes it down. I see the relationship that I’m in and how I feel and there just can’t be anything unnatural about it at all. I also, no longer really care if it is wrong or right because I’m not prepared to change anything. I don’t spend so long thinking and trying to answer everything because I don’t think there is a clear one.

I knew within the first couple of dates with Rosie that I was onto something really good. It wasn’t just how much I was starting to like her but actually how our relationship with each other was.

A big issue for me, that I’ve always been uncomfortable with is men paying for meals and the first date and second and third sometimes! I really didn’t like it. Don’t get me wrong, I was over the moon with having a night out and not having to spend any money, I was grateful and thankful too. But I always from then on felt like we were not on the same line or wave. Like I now owed them something and then If I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to buy the next round and I essentially got into more debt with them it made it worse. And I think it’s feelings like this, looking back on it now that I’m in a relationship where there isn’t this almost competition to spoil.

I think this is where I can get into the realms of stereotyping and judging but I’ll say it anyway. Pretty much 100% of the men that I dated and more were definitely keen to be the more dominant, they wanted to spoil me. (1. Maybe I just chose my dates badly and 2. I was always very grateful!) But I think I just never wanted or needed that. What I was looking for was someone I could have a proper no bars held conversation about anything. I wanted to know someone really well. I didn’t want someone who wanted to look after me. And I don’t have the interest in looking after someone else either. There’s support and there’s being there and listening but then there’s also being someone’s parent. (when they’re perfectly capable of caring for themselves!)

I know of friends in relationships who would be given flowers by their partners on a regular basis for what appeared to be a thanks for reminding them to have a shower or wash the dishes or finish an assignment. And they were very clearly head over heels for each other and in no doubt their relationship was great, it just wasn’t what I was after.

This relationship with Rosie suited me perfectly because obviously being both women, it was always going to be splitting meals, we’re both driven to achieve our ambitions, we’re both able to look after ourselves but when one of us is having a bad day we’re able to talk it through.

Women are known to be better at speaking about emotions and experiences but personally, I think it’s not a feminine trait it’s the way we bring up males and females.

I know I was just very lucky to meet Rosie as soon as I did, but equally I know that If I’d have dated other girls I’d have met some that liked to be spoiled and treated and protected. I also know that if I carried on dating men I would probably find one at some point that wasn’t so keen on the protective side and was able to talk to me like I can talk to most women.

I feel very much like it’s the culture that we’re in regarding how we raise children so differently because of their sex that makes me more likely to be in a relationship with a woman than a man. If Rosie had been a Robert I’d be with him now. It’s an interesting way of thinking about it. I find that there is a difference between most girls and their willingness to be helpful and useful and most men and their not. I just think it’s the way we’ve been brought up. Maybe girls are more willing to help and be useful from a younger age but maybe also boys should be taught a little bit harder how to help.

I am being quite broad here and I’m not including everyone by any means but there is a trend. And again I’m not saying any relationship is more valid than another but I just can’t stand gender roles. Men can still treat and spoil women if they want too and women can look after men if they want to but to assume that that’s the way things are and should be I don’t like… to the extent the boys and girls are brought up differently I don’t like.

So basically I look back on the guys that I really did get on with and wonder if we could have made something of a relationship if either one of us wanted the same thing from a relationship. I feel like most of the guys must have sensed that I appreciated but didn’t really enjoy it. It almost seems like a really big shame that it was something kind of simple that stopped any progression. Obviously, it’s unlikely that they would have all worked out well long term etc etc but I wonder how many might have been a few more dates or a relationship had I been not so keen for conversation and he not so keen to treat me like a princess.

I also actually do wonder why some women like to be spoiled and why some men like to spoil. Is it what they are used to? Is it the best thing?

I’m totally biased and I know it. I obviously feel that my side of the grass is greener. I just feel that relationships are more likely to be healthier if we’re not demanding and depending on the other. But if we see the other person as a companion rather than (a cleaner lol) someone who needs to fit a traditional and expected role. How about just knowing naturally how to work as a team because we’re human and not because we’re either male or female?

But saying that, every relationship is different and people do want different things.. but why do we want different things?

Gender roles is a big no in my books at the moment. It has so many consequences to it.

I do wonder if men in gay relationships find that they are just more comfortable in the kind of relationship created by two men rather than with a women?

I think I’m always going to be able to add more to this, and discuss more!

Rebecca x

p.s

I feel there were often times when I would feel there were things appropriate and inappropriate to say. Being a vet student you do build up a bit of book of stories. I felt some guys responded badly to me talking about gross things, like it’s not they were expecting of me. I mean, also, fair lol, probably shouldn’t be talking about poo on a first date. Yeah, actually, maybe it wasn’t particularly nice of me ha. But there were times when a guy would say something a bit gross but I could be them and suddenly I wasn’t so womanly any more. Ugh. Go home. anyway!

I feel like most people can be really untidy, But leaving a mess knowing full well and happy to do so that someone else will tidy up the mess is more a male trait I think. Shoot me down if I’m wrong. But I feel most women are messy but know it’s their mess that they’ll sort out.. at some point. Men, I don’t feel are the same. More happy to be cleaned up after. That’ll be an upbringing thing too I bet. And I ain’t go time to be cleaning up someone else’s mess. Ugh. Go home.