My name is Olivia, and I am currently on my placement year with GWCT doing research and monitoring at the Game & Wildlife Scottish Demonstration Farm in Aberdeenshire. I am from a large town in South West England called Bournemouth which is a seaside town that is very popular with tourists and it could not be more different from living on the farm.
Olivia (left) with the Auchnerran team (Credit: Olivia Stubbington)
I knew that I would have to get used to a few things such as accepting that I can live without domino’s pizza and clothes shops! I’m glad that I decided to do this placement because it feels so freeing being in the countryside; there’s not hundreds of people around you every day, there’s no noise around so you can hear the sounds of nature and being far away from a town/city means less light pollution so the views of the night sky are amazing!
What is so different between living on the farm and living in Bournemouth??
Picture of Bournemouth (Credit: Savills UK)
In Bournemouth, it is a 5-minute drive or 30-minute walk to the town centre. Here, if I were to walk for half an hour, I would still be on the farm! It is a 20-minute drive to the closest village (Aboyne) which has a co-op.
Auchnerran farm (Credit: Marlies Nicholai)
In England, you don’t pay much attention to passers-by. People probably thought I was rude when I came to Scotland because I didn’t realise that it was common courtesy to say hello to people you walk past and wave at them when you pass in the car.
I was also very shocked to find out how trusting people are in the countryside – a lot of people leave their cars and houses unlocked which is very unheard of in towns and cities in England where everyone double and triple checks that their cars are locked before they walk away.
I admit I am not the best at understanding accents but when it comes to a strong Scottish accent, I really struggle. I can’t even take a guess at what some of the farmers have tried to say to me, and if somehow I can make out the words that they are saying, it is unlikely that I’ll know what they mean. For example, the other day a farmer asked me and my fellow placement student (Sophie) what our handles were. I had no clue what he was talking about, so I asked him to repeat himself. He said “handle” again and we both looked at each other blankly. Sophie thought maybe he was asking what our accents were but that wasn’t correct either. Eventually he said, “I’m asking, what are your names?”. Very confusing how Scotland and England have totally different words for the same things!
Buzzard and Red Kite at Auchnerran (Olivia Stubbington)
There is so much wildlife at the farm – buzzards and red kites regularly circle the house which is quite a sight compared to the pigeons I am used to seeing back home! I can watch them flying around the house for hours but sadly every time I grab my camera and go outside to take a picture, they are nowhere to be seen.
Deer at Auchnerran farm (Credit: Merlin Becker)
I also remember the first time I saw a rabbit on placement, I was so excited and thought it was so cute. I didn’t understand why the others were looking at me weirdly because everyone wants to see one and take photos of it when it’s in the town. I was unaware that rabbits are considered pests on the farm due to their large population and burrows impact on ground infrastructure, and crop growth.
Damage caused to land at Auchnerran by rabbit burrows (Credit: Marlies Nicolai)
I love all the wildlife that I see around the farm but it does mean that when I am driving, I have to remember to be on the lookout for rabbits, pheasants and deer’s while driving because I don’t want to run them over!
Overall, there are quite a few differences between farm life and town life but adapting to rural life has been nowhere near as challenging as I thought it would be and there are many benefits to being far away from everything.