I have never kept a diary, but I felt that this monumental stage of my life was worth recording and in spare moments during our first year, I would sit at the computer and write about the experience. It soon became apparent that each time I wrote it turned into a chapter length ‘essay’. However, there were no thoughts at all in my head of it ever becoming a book, just a record to enable Richard and me to look back on and remember our adventure, when we got old and the farm was a thing of the past.
This changed because the Open University provides internet ‘chat rooms’ where communication can take place between students. This is helpful because there is not much chance to meet up with fellow students face to face and studying at home can be a lonely process. When I began the first Science course, I found my way around the OU website and soon became a regular visitor to the ‘chat room’ for my course. Here we could help each other with queries about the course or just post interesting messages, although we were not allowed to ask or answer direct questions about the assessments which would form part of our course marks. On this forum, I had ‘met’ a lady in my own age bracket who was setting out on the same process of gaining a degree and we became internet friends and, after exchanging our normal email addresses, we began a daily exchange of messages outside the OU room, in which we could exchange personal details and more general information. I began to include snippets of information about the farm in these messages: what Richard was doing, when the vet came, what was happening to the cows etc. and she always showed great interest in these. She lives in Somerset near the countryside but has little actual knowledge of the world of farming and she began to ask me questions about our life. One day, without referring to it directly in my daily email, I attached the first ‘chapter’ of my writing about buying the farm and clicked on the send button. The next day I received her response which was quite amazing to me. ‘Well, come on, then’, she wrote, ‘where’s the rest. You can’t leave me with just this bit. I need to know what happened next.’