Guest blog by Damian Osmond
It was during that wonderful time of year we all know and love, exam season, that I received an email asking if I would be interested in working with the university as part of their AberForward scheme. Looking for any excuse to distance myself from exams, I naturally filled out the applications and wondered idly about whether I’d see anything about the placement I opted for. A couple of months later, I was stood in the wonderful hills in Cwmystyth, as we discussed agricultural practices with some visitors in what would later be dubbed as “my office”.
On paper, my roles were rather simple; help out with what I could, learn some new skills and assist with analysis and data collection. However, it did not take long for my responsibilities to expand massively.
I mentioned data collection, this varied from taking grass cuttings, daffodil measurements, so many daffodils… Sheep weighing and soil core taking, which was nice but rather odd to hear metal striking across all the hills, echoing like thunder. I also had the opportunity to speak with some visiting school kids. Now, I’d never worked with children before, but it was staggering just how many questions were asked. To this day, I have no idea how local wildlife in the hills lead to me trying to answer about reverse scuba octopi, but what I can say is that no day in my eight weeks working were ever the same.
The hardest day there was when we represented IBERS at the Royal Welsh; it was still early into my placement, I had some idea of information to share about moss, peat and water retention but the heat made everything seem much harder than it was. Still, whilst a hard day, it was not the worst, in fact, during my time here I never did have a bad day.
Although, saying that, whilst not a bad day as such, the one I disliked most would have to be the day I overheard there would be sheep shearing and volunteered possibly too enthusiastically to assist with it. The work was definitely interesting, and I can now say I’ve sheared a sheep! (Even got to keep the wool.) However, sheep are incredibly messy, and after the being avoided at lunch, due to the horrendous smell I had picked up, I had the joy of trying to remove many a sheep’s lunch and half a field from my clothes.
In all my time working with Pwllpeiran, my favourite role was just being part of the team; I was working alongside doctors, a professor, researchers and people with far more experience than myself but I was never treated less than anyone else or just as the temp to shift stuff or run tea. I joked about my least favourite time there, but I think it has to be when I had to say my goodbyes and leave. Still, the work done they do there is incredible, I could list all I learned but we’d be here until the next AberForward steps in, but I can’t thank everyone I worked with enough for the chance to be a part of the team, but thank you nonetheless!