We have a new WWOOFer here at the farm named Haley. Actually she's been here for about two weeks. One week left. She put together a little video showing some of the animal chores she does here on the farm. It is really cute and gives you a little insight into what animal chores might look like on any given day. You will notice some cameos by some chicken feet. We just processed our chickens, and we try to use ALL PARTS of our animals so nothing goes to waste. The pigs receive a lot of the chicken "leftovers" that we are unable to use.
Haley is actually our 20th WWOOFer! She is a 19-year-old college student who wanted to stretch herself and do something new during her summer break. She is an upbeat, positive gal, who is just seriously a wonderful person. People like Haley give me hope for my own children as they grow up. Maybe they can grow up to be a good adult!!
(A quick side note. Many of these people find us through the www.wwoofusa.org website. However, we also receive a lot of volunteers through www.workaway.info.
Typically, each volunteer helps us with basic animal chores. They might also jump in on some other things, but animal chores are what we need them most for. We ask each volunteer to stay for about 2-4 weeks. At that point, some ask to stay longer, but many are on to their next adventure.
I have mentioned our intern, Jacob, a few times on the Blog. For the first time, we have accepted a long-term WWOOFer. We had another for four months (Dan!) and one other for two and a half (MaryAnn!), but Jacob, will be with us for about ten months when it is all said and done. He is incredible here on the farm. If we had to leave tomorrow, he could keep the farm running without question. We also trust him without question and are so appreciative of what he has brought to our farm and family.
So while Jacob has been here, we have been trying to have a second WWOOFer with him. Jacob can then keep up on the garden, moving animals, and tons of other odds and ends that are actually getting us ahead instead of just keeping us treading water. And the second WWOOFer can do all the animal chores that would otherwise dominate Jacob's day.
In the past, we didn't have this option because I only had two guest rooms. A WWOOFer occupied one of them and the second room was reserved for guests -- family and friends that came to visit us. However, when we bought our camper, an added bonus was that guests could stay in the camper. So now we have two WWOOFer rooms and the camper for guests.
Some farms will put bunkbeds in rooms and house multiple WWOOFers in one room. We really wanted to avoid that. We think that providing people with their own room is one of the perks of volunteering on our farm. We also want to keep our numbers low and really only bring in people we feel we can really trust. So they have their own room, a bathroom they share with guests or other volunteers, and a shared living room area that has a microwave and a few other basics. They eat breakfast and lunch on their own in our kitchen, and they eat dinner with our family.
When we don't have a second WWOOFer, and even when we do, I have been spending a LOT of time helping with animal chores. Not only do I like to stay active and keep up on how our animals are doing, but there is just so much going on here in the summer that I really feel the need to jump in help. In addition, it is just so incredibly hot here right now that none of our volunteers can last very long outside. Jacob actually does a lot of his gardening work between 7pm-9:30pm -- when it gets dark. The one great thing about being in the mountains is the drop in temperature early in the morning and late at night.
Many people have asked me about our volunteer program and where we see it going. We really aren't sure. We have had great success with the program and have had very few people that were not a great fit. And now we are starting to see some of those people return for second stays. One of our favorite WWOOFers, Tymen, from Holland, is returning in September! And another gal we just loved, MaryAnn, is planning to come back in October.
However, the fact still remains that having extra people here does require a lot of organization and does decrease our privacy. We also feed these individuals which means that including my in-laws and guests that may be here, I feed a minimum of 9 people every night and sometimes up to 17! My house is open from 7:30am until 7:30pm. Volunteers walk in and out to eat, hang out with the family, or ask questions. When I am away from the house, they are in my house. They do not sleep in our house. But there are always people coming and going. Most people tell me they can't imagine living this way. But for now, God has told me He wants me to continue loving and showing these young people His love. So I am doing that.
I truly never thought that the Lord would call me to open our home and our life like this. I don't think He will call me to this forever. But for now, we have told him that this is HIS LAND, and we will do with it what HE TELLS US TO DO. One step at a time.
But the fact remains that my children are getting older. And as they get older, they are venturing farther and farther from my wings. At some point, we think the volunteer program, at least as it looks now, will come to an end. The safety of our children is too important, and we want them to have freedom to be out on our farm. If there are volunteers also out on our farm, their safety is put in jeopardy. Right now, the kids don't venture around the farm very much on their own, so we are still able to have very good rules in place to keep them safe. But obviously, when we have teenage daughters, I can't bring in twenty-year old male WWOOFers! :) John might seriously have a mental breakdown.
For now though, we take the next step, and keep moving forward until God tells us not to. We are excited about the possibility of partnering with a mission organization we love dearly in Nigeria. They are interested in sending two Nigerians to work here for six months, learn the ins and outs of permaculture, and take that knowledge back to their people. We are still a ways off from that happening, but are hopeful it could take off in the spring.
Have other questions? Please feel free to ask them. We are an open book about this program and are incredibly excited to have participated! We understand that most people can't imagine this kind of life. We get that. But we honestly feel like this is our mission. You probably can't imagine being a missionary. But people do it. That's kind of how I feel about this calling. I didn't want to be called to this. But it's where God has me. And I have to listen.
P.S. If you want to see another great WWOOFer video, please check out Jordan's video here.
And if you are interested, here is the longer version of Haley's video. It is so cute!