Monday, August 31, 2020

First day of Homeschooling 2020-2021

Today was our first day of homeschooling for the 2020-2021 school year. In no particular oder, here are the kiddos who make up our homeschooling group: 








The two first graders: Genevieve and Hannah


Happy picture of Sidge

Sad picture of Sidge

The three sixth graders: Isaac, Sidge, and Kari

Praying for JB


To those of you who know and love my husband
John Kitsteiner
: he’s back in for a run of day shifts in the ER. He and his staff NEED your prayers today. Would you specifically pray that they can find the joy amidst the stress? There is a chronic nursing shortage and the docs now have to take on more night shifts due to the departure of a physician. My husband is the strongest man I know but he’s not recovering enough before he goes back in ... he’s the ER’s co-director and being a leader during a war adds a lot to his shoulders. Covid brings patients in in waves which means they often are completely clobbered. Pray for joy, healing, wisdom, space, and encouragement.
Thanks everyone.

I posted this on Facebook today. We received such fantastic comments. Here is a link so I can view this years from now and remember this time in our life.

The first 3/4 of the day went well for JB, but in general, his work is a battle right now. And we can use all the prayers he can get.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

One of my kids has a passion (of mine!)

I have always loved to write. I can remember writing my first real "story" in Mrs. Harden's first grade class. I remember getting it back with red marks all over it but not feeling discouraged. I was excited that I was able to write such a long story. 

My second grade teacher, Mrs. Dunham, is still in touch with me today, and she says she can recall that I wrote really long stories in second grade too. I know I was also a really strong reader at this point in my life as well, but was more impressed with my speed than my comprehension. 

Somehow, my parents acquired an old manual typewriter when I was about 10-12. I can still remember exactly where that typewriter was situated in our trailer home's family room. I have memories of sitting down in the Florida heat, my legs sticking to the chair I was typing on, just plunking away on those heavy keys. 

At some point, my father got a work computer. Because he was a coach and an athletic director, we were often at school much later than the traditional 3pm dismissal time. So I would spend a ton of time writing stories on a black screen with green type while he coached basketball and volleyball in the gym or softball outside. 

As I grew older, I continued to write for fun. I even got into writing short skits for a drama class I was in during my senior year. I have tried, since then, to write dramas again, but have never been able to get back to that place of inspiration. 

Throughout junior and senior year of high school, I would fill up journals of stories. Type stories whenever I could. Typing was my hobby, and I got very proficient at it. But I wanted nothing more than to grow up and become a writer. 

So far, none of my children have really shown any "love" for things they would have inherited from their Mama. 

Take for example: 

Abigail: Ballet & birding & photography
Isaac: Piano & Hot wheels cars & Lego
Sidge: Wood-working & animals & Lego

Get the idea? None of these things are things I have ever loved or can really understand loving. I can't relate to any of them. Ballet a bit because I'm an athlete, but that's it.

But my fourth child. The wild child. Hannah. Hannah has started writing. She sits down and writes long stories and now she's been asking to type them. 

It is SO fun for me to "understand" one of my kiddos passions. I watch her, and I know why she's doing it. And it really resonates with me. 

Here's one of her recent stories. (P.S. I try not to correct grammar or spelling or sentence structure at all yet. I really want her to just have fun writing!)


We Bought a Farm: Our WWOOFers

Our farm has been having WWOOFers staying with us. These are individuals who volunteer their time on our farm in exchange for room and board. They stay on the second floor of our garage/barn in their own room. Upstairs is also another bedroom for our personal guests. There is a shared half-finished living room and kitchen as well as a full bathroom downstairs. 

They help us on the farm for approximately 25-30 hours a week. Each WWOOFer is here for different reasons. Some are here to simply experience American culture. Others are interested in permaculture and/or organic farming and want to see if it is a good fit for them. They might be thinking of possibly buying their own farm someday.

Interested in WWOOFing with us? Please click here for more information.

#1 Dan (August-November 2015). 
Dan was from Illinois. He had just graduated from college and was seeing how permaculture might fit into what he wanted to do. Dan actually stayed with us for four months. Hannah had a huge crush on him and made us laugh so hard one day when she pulled up a chair and sat down right in front of where he was working. When we asked her what she was doing, she said, "Oh. I'm just watching Mr. Dan work." Dan was also famous for how much food he could ingest! It was seriously a sight to behold. Dan helped us get our broiler chicken "business" off the ground. We stay in touch with Dan and are so excited to see where life takes him.

Review of our farm from Dan: 
"The most important thing you can know about Bauernhof Kitsteiner is this: these are some of the nicest and best human beings you will ever meet. More specifically, John's knowledge of permaculture is truly vast and will be a valuable resource while you WWOOF at the Bauernhof, but even more valuable is his willingness and enthusiasm to share this with you in a theory and in practice. John's father, a master carpenter and all around handyman, has an equally vast amount to teach you about the practical construction skills necessary to actually carry out the permaculture projects around the farm and the same enthusiasm to share this knowledge. Wendi and John's mother will teach you everything else you need to know about life on the farm, from cooking, to cleaning, to so many other things you wouldn't even think of that are absolutely essential. John and Wendi do expect the utmost respect for their property, their Christian faith, and most importantly their children, no exceptions. Ultimately, WWOOFing here will leave you with not only an experience that will make you a better farmer, it will make you a better person. I couldn't think more highly of them."

#2 Daniel (April 2016)
Daniel had done a ton of different things including owning his own paint business and teaching chess.  He was from Arizona. Daniel was actually basically traveling all around the USA out of his car and wanted to stay in one place for awhile. Daniel was incredibly efficient at getting the animals done, did not like the cold weather, and was really good at catching snapping turtles. He taught Abigail how to play chess and really improved both of the boys' game. Such a diverse guy!

Review of our farm from Daniel: 
"Only 200 words? I'm going to have to choose my words wisely. Awesome farm, Breathtaking sunsets, Chilly mornings, Dirty work, Excellent fishing, Fantastic meals, Green pastures, Huge forest, Inky mushrooms, Jolly Neighbor, Knowledgeable Johns, Lasting memories, Mean turtles, New opportunities, Optimistic plans, Positive vibes, Quaky ducks, Rainy days, Smart kids, Tall parents, Unpleasant stink bugs, Valuable lessons, Warmhearted Christians, Xerarch me, Yellow flowers, Zebra?"

#3 Jordan (May 2016)
Jordan spent the first half of his life in Paris and the second of his life in Quebec. He loved the outdoors and nature and just wanted to travel around the USA and experience our country. Jordan was still learning English but was doing a great job. He really wanted to experience all aspects of our culture. He made Isaac an awesome birthday present, did different projects with the kids, and even cooked for us! He also found a huge guinea egg nest and an awesome video for us when he left. Jordan was so much fun, and he and our family was really sad when he left.

Review of our farm from Jordan: 
"I was curious about the Bauernhof Kitsteiner farm I was expecting to meet a family who's living in a beautiful area and had new and differents ways to think and live to share for woofers like me. And I was right, what a pleasure for me to learn in a such great and beautiful place where animals really seems to be happy in a place where taking care of the land is the most important. But I never expected to feel for a moment that I was a part of your family. Your kids have no ideas the chance they have to grow up with parents like you guys and I was really sad to leave you at the end. Thank you for all the love you gave me and I can't wait to see you again. :)""

#4 Emily (June 2016)
Emily was from New Zealand and was spending a year at the University of Idaho on a very prestigious scholarship! She was a geography and geology major which really made Isaac happy. She cooked us an amazing New Zealand dessert and took some great photos of our farm. We introduced her to Dairy Queen blizzards and the art of sarcasm. She also helped us map our woods, and really jumped into all aspects of our culture. She was incredibly sweet and just a pleasure to have here at The Bauernhof Kitsteiner. 

Review of our farm from Emily: 
"I absolutely loved my time here! As a 19 year old first time wwoofer, I felt very comfortable and welcome, and I found the work interesting, full of variety and stress-free. The Kitsteiners could not have been better hosts, they were friendly and included me in family activities, also taking me to the nearby town to experience what the area had to offer culturally. When I first arrived, I had very unexpectedly bad hayfever allergies, but they were very understanding and caring and encouraged me to rest when they could tell I was unwell. The rest of the family is lovely, the children love to talk and play games and the grandparents have a great sense of humour. This farm would suit almost any type of wwoofer, whether you are interested in permaculture, animal care, or anything else in between. I leave this farm with some great memories, having worked on a great farm with some great people, and I would do it all over again if I could :)"

#5 Eliza (June and July 2016)
Eliza currently lives in North Carolina with her long-term boyfriend, but they are looking to purchase a farm in the Pacific Northwest. She was spending the year WWOOFing to get some ideas and insight before purchasing a farm. Eliza was our oldest WWOOFer yet at 30 and she already a PhD in microbiology and immunology. I really enjoyed spending time with someone a little closer to my age! She and Isaac LOVED playing Piano Maestro together, and she did some planting in our flower beds. We look forward to staying in touch with Eliza.

Review of our farm from Eliza:
"I came to the scenic Bauernhof to study permaculture after reading John's excellent blog at I had a fantastic time here; not only did I learn a lot about practicality and application of permaculture on a homestead, I also thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the entire family. The majority of chores entails taking care of their animals and only takes a couple hours a day. However, there's a ton of other things you can do on the farm and they are always open to new ideas. I got to plant garden beds and trees along their swale, hunt for mushrooms in the forest, and herd the sheepies to new pastures. John is the strong silent type and you have to catch him when he's not busy (which is rare.) He is knowledgeable in many fields and will take the time to share with you if you are interested. Wendi, aka supermom, is always fun, friendly, and amazingly honest. The kids are awesome (assuming you catch Miss sassy-Hannah on a good day) and they will entertain you for hours. Things to beware of: ticks, blackberry thorns, poison ivy, hills, and Gramp's biting sarcasm. Trust me, it's worth it!"

#6 Deborah (left) (July 2016)

I decided to try a few younger WWOOFers. I was a little nervous about using anyone under 18 but was in a jam and had a very busy two week period that needed filling. Deborah is an almost 16 year old who is a part of our homeschool co-op. We had about a two week gap here at the farm with no WWOOFer and with broiler chickens, new layer chickens, and new turkeys around and my in-laws headed out of town, we really thought it would help to fill the void. I put a message on my homeschool board, and Deborah was able to fill the need. She did a a fantastic job and was eager to do things and do things right. She is very outgoing and boisterous and brought great creativity and personality to our farm. She was also one of the cleaner WWOOFers. We ask all of our WWOOFers to clean their room upon departure, but Deborah actually kept the upstairs apartment clean while she was here and had it very clean when Maggie (pictured at right) came in and overlapped with her for a few days.

Review of our farm from Deborah:
To read Deborah's perspective, please click here. 

#7 Maggie (July 2016)
Maggie is a soon to be high school senior. She is homeschooled, and we share an aunt and uncle. My Aunt Janet is married to her Uncle Ed. Maggie has a great love of the outdoors and animals and wanted to try out the farming life. She is truly one of the most peaceful and sweet women you could ever meet. The kids LOVED her (especially Hannah!) She was a beautiful presence on our farm.

Review of our farm from Maggie:
"Thank you for allowing me to live on your farm. You and your family were very loving and fun; I will miss all of you very much. May the Lord Bless you."

#8 David (September 2016)
David joined us for three weeks. He just graduated from high school and was looking for which direction he wanted to go with his life. He loves animals so he decided to give farming a try. He has decided that farming isn't his favorite, but he was amazing with the dogs and the kids LOVED him!

#9 Mary Ann (August thru November)
Mary Ann arrived at our farm at the end of August. She initially was going to stay about 7-10 days but then asked if she could stay until first snow. We honestly think of her like Mary Poppins. She gets SOOO much done, barely makes a peep, and is simply an amazing force here on the property. She is in her 60's but truly can do what most 40 year olds can do without a problem. We were so blessed when she stayed with us until November. She was pure joy here on the farm.

Review of our farm from Mary Ann: 
"The rustling of the Sudan sorghum and your resident Mockingbird are beautiful memories from Bauernhof Kitsteiner. And from beautiful people it's not a coincidence. You all have etched a special place on my heart. I'm so grateful to you all and God for a wonderful time and such an educational experience.  WWOOFing with children adds a very special joy."

#10 Shelby (End of September thru early November 2016)
Shelby was actually a friend of mine in the Azores. Her husband, Lane, just got out of the military, and they are taking a year off before starting real life up again. Shelby works part-time as a graphic designer from home so she is working while here on the farm. She was here for two weeks by herself, and her husband Lane joined us for two of those weeks. Shelby is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and we will be friends for life!

Review of our farm from Shelby:
What a treat this has been! I am so grateful for your hospitality and open arms. You guys are incredible and what you are doing here is inspiring and special. I'm surprised to be laving with fewer thoughts about farming than about family and parenting and homeschooling and hospitality and church. Thanks for taking us in and giving us a front row seat -- again! I miss you all already and WILL be back."

#11 Dawn (October 9-16, 2016)
Dawn found us through JB's website, and is just going to be here for just one week. She is an engineer, and actually came here for her vacation to learn more about our farm and permaculture! I said "you gave up your vacation for us?" And she said, "I didn't give it up! I'm here!" So sweet and a real favorite of Hannah. (Hannah cried HARD when Dawn left.) We really hope Dawn comes back for more farming adventures.

Review of our farm from Dawn: 
"Thank you for sharing your home and family with me. I really enjoyed being here and getting to take care of the animals. Sidge, Isaac, Abigail, and Hannah, I loved playing with you all."

#12 Lane (October 2016)
Shelby's husband Lane joined us for about two weeks here on the farm. He was fantastic in helping us with cleaning up our fencing and some other things that needed a "man's" touch. :) He also did a lot of scouting of the deer to let us know where they are living so we can hopefully get one when hunting season begins! Lane brought a lot of life and humor to our farm.

#13 Leah (November 2016)
Leah was lucky #13 here at the Bauernhof, and she was also our first strict vegetarian which was a bit of a risk for me, as I always worried how I would feed a vegetarian since we are a farm that is raising meat. But Leah was a fantastic cook and took care of most of her own food (and made some yummy dishes for us too!) Leah was living the typical stylish life in New York City with a degree and a good job when she decided to take a year and explore farming. Boy are we glad she did. What a fantastic time we had during her 2.5 week stay. We only wish she could have stayed longer. To read more about Leah, you can click here

Review of our farm from Leah:
"I have nothing but positively GLOWING things to say about this family and this farm. I felt warmly welcomed from the moment I arrived (just as a pig was giving birth!), and my weeks here were enriching in an astounding multitude of ways, including so much practical education (on holistic management, permaculture, animal husbandry, the economics of family farming, and more) AND so many deep chats and compassionate exchanges of lifestyle perspectives, plus plenty of lighthearted play with the whole family (including four spunky kids). The work was totally reasonable -- Wendi made sure to tell me from the start that she wanted my contributions to bring me genuine joy, and both and she and John were always open to my questions, my interests, my point of view .... and even my vegetarian cooking! Bonus points: stunning location, cozy accommodations in a private room, and a flexible schedule, with brief spurts of work spread throughout the day. This is a must-WWOOF particularly if you're interested in ethical animals husbandry and permaculture principles, or if you're looking for a true cultural exchange with a loving family, but there's something for everyone here -- honestly, my richest WWOOF experience to date."

#14 Jacob (December 2016 - October 2017)
Jacob came for the month of December, and ended up staying much longer. All said and done he will be here for close to a year. Jacob is an incredibly intelligent guy who could take care of our farm for weeks at a time with no problem. He's amazing, and life would be so much more hectic without him here. Jacob was our longest term WWOOFer, and he has come back to visit periodically since leaving us. We look forward to staying in touch with him in the future. He has a home on our farm anytime!

"If you are a first-time woofer who is interested in permaculture and loves animals this is THE farm to visit. The Kitsteiners are exceedingly accommodating, good for a chat and their kids and grandparents are fun, too. Oh, and there farm is cool too and always improving. The daily chores are manageable, leaving you time to explore, read, start projects, spend time with the animals, or visit a nearby attraction. John is both patient and intelligent and if you wish to talk to him about something, he will find a way to fit you into his schedule which says a lot, I think. There is so much to learn from him so don't waste this opportunity. Read up on a question and fire away, he usually knows something helpful. If you are interested in pigs, laying chickens, and katahdin hair sheep this is the farm for you. Seasonally, the farm runs broilers and turkeys. You'll like it here."

#15 Peter (January 2017)
Peter and Tymen came in on the same day. Peter was just with us for one week -- an exchange student from China studying in the USA. While his visit was short, we so enjoyed getting to share our cultures with each other. He was a true joy and a country music fanatic!

Review of our farm from Peter:
"The word wonderful is apparently not wonderful enough to describe John and Wendi. They agreed to have me stay on their farm for only one week, mainly for cultural experiences. I’m grateful for everything they treated me with, including tasty snacks of all kinds, pills when I accidentally caught a fever, sturdy and warm boots that prevented me from the mud, and must-try sandwiches in a nearby farmer market. I’m not the best at speaking English, but they showed great patience and understandings in presence of language barriers and cultural shocks. 

They own a large and hilly property that offers a natural spot for working out. Walking around alone is good exercise here, let alone all those pigs, ducks, geese, chickens, goats and fences to take care of. Unfortunately my stay here is too short to allow me to go up the hill to adventure with them, but I truly think it'll be super cool! 

Another thing to mention is that as a physician who worked as a graphic designer and joined the Air Force and now runs a farm, John is a walking Wikipedia you’ll enjoying talking with and learning abundant knowledge from. Faithful Christians as they are, controversial issues in society are something they never avoid discussing about, from which you can feel their open-mindedness and intelligence. What’s more, their lovely kids showed good manners and John’s parents are just as interesting and nice as they are -- Ray is a laid-back grandpa who loves joking, while Mary is a sweet grandma who loves Ray's jokes. I did enjoy my time here with the whole big family and two other workawayers, Tyman from Netherlands and Jacob.

In a word, if you are considering paying a visit here, don’t hesitate to! They are exactly the type of the best hosts you could ever imagine!"

#16 Tymen (January 2017 and again in fall of 2017)
Tymen was with us for a month, and then returned for another week before heading back home to Holland. He is from the Netherlands, and I agreed to host a second WWOOFer (overlapping with Jacob) because he wanted to do outdoor heavy labor. And boy did he! He helped us with so much fence and tree removal. He was also Hannah's first crush -- she was absolutely addicted to Tymen. He spoke incredible English, and we really hope he'll get to visit us again someday.

Tijmen came back to us for a second wolfing experience. He has solidified himself as a member of our family now, and we hope to stay in touch with him for years to come! He even won little Abigail over which is no small task!

Review of our farm from Tymen:
"My stay on the farm was fantastic. John and Wendi are very nice people who make sure you have everything you need to help out on the farm. I learned a lot during my stay, and whenever I had a question or needed help, there was always some family member willing to assist/provide an answer. They already have a lot of experience with volunteers, so they know the ins and outs of hosting volunteers on their farm. I would definitely recommend this place for it's beautiful scenery, opportunities to learn new things, and the supportiveness of the family that lives there." 

#17 Amy (March 2017)
I actually really like this picture of Amy. She is a very private person so I sort of felt like too close of a picture would be a little too much for her. While Amy describes herself as shy, I actually think she isn't as shy deep down inside and will be continuing to shine more and more. She is one of the nicest young women I have ever met, and I would love to have her live at our farm FOREVER! She was an incredible worker and actually perfected the fence moving -- a rarity in the land of WWOOFers. I cannot say enough good things about her!

Review of our farm from Amy:
"Getting to know this family was a treasure that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. They are all very kind and gifted. The land itself is magical. John, his family and we the wwoofers are transforming it into a healthy productive site. While I was there, I mainly helped care for the animals but there is plenty of other things to work on if you so desire. The most satisfying skill I learned was how to set up a temporary paddock and move the sheep every few days (managed grazing). If you want to learn about permaculture this is the place. Get ready to be inspired!!!!"

#18 Leon (April 2017)
Leon was another Dutch volunteer who had been traveling a ton around the world and just made his way into the USA. He came to us through the workaway program -- which we've been getting more and more volunteers from. He was here for some hard weeks on the fun as the sun was just starting to beat down more, and we had quite a bit of problems for our pigs -- but he always had a great attitude and was willing to help in any way. 

Review of our farm from Leon:
I stayed with the this amazing family for a month and a half they were the so generous and kind to me. Learned a lot about living on a farm and taking care of animals. I also learned more about home schooling and permaculture . The kids were super nice and really ahead of their own ages. I would recommend this place to anyone that wants to experience real American hospitality. Thanks for everything!!

#19 Tim (June 2017)
Tim joined us from California -- a college student looking at seeing more of the world. What a great guy! The picture above is of him using the drone he brought to the farm! He drove here from California and was an incredibly hard worker despite the fact that our heat is a lot different from their heat. We truly enjoyed the two weeks he spent with us here on the farm. 

Review of our farm from Tim:
What a great first experience for me! John and Wendi were so great and welcoming to me (as were there children and parents). I really enjoyed my two weeks at the farm and I learned so much while there. The duties I had were manageable and someone was always there to answer questions I had. Working with the animals was new and fun! And enjoying the beauty of the farm and the liveliness of the family was so enjoyable. 

I absolutely recommend this farm for anyone looking for a first experience farming as well as experienced people looking for more in-depth knowledge! The family could not have been nicer and I will always remember my stay!

#20 Haley (July 2017)
I just LOVED this girl. She was young and happy and upbeat and just the type of girl you hope your own daughters can grow up to be like. She loves her family and her life and was pushing herself to go away from home and try something new. Such a sweetheart!

Review of our farm from Haley:
"This was my first work away experience and it was the perfect choice for me! The family is amazing! They were always cooking great food, and were so welcoming and kind! The kids are great and fun and you will never be bored with them!! The work was hard but fun and rewarding!! My job was feeding the animals every day. I loved my trip and it was definitely a life experience I'm glad I had! Stay with this family if you get the chance!!"

#21 Veronica (In and out beginning in fall 2017)
Not really sure where to PUT Veronica. She is a LONG time family friend (like we've known her since she was a tiny little four-year-old). She now lives about four hours and has been joining us on some weekends to help on the farm and with the kids. Veronica IS family to us, but she is majorly helping on the farm as well so I have to add her to this page.

#22 Duygu (November and December 2017)
Duygu actually found us by putting the word "Turkish" in the search engine on the website and finding our family who has a special place in our heart for the Turkish culture. She helped us a lot with animals but also did a TON of cooking for us. I really thought I had forgotten my Turkish when she came to us, but it came flying back to me. She was an absolutely wonderful addition to our life here on the farm, and I am so blessed to have a bit of Turkey here in Tennessee. 

Review of our farm from Duygu: 
"I do not have enough words to describe this beautiful family. All of this family's members are extremely polite, respectful, and kind. Wendi and john have 4 wonderful children who are raised with love and discipline. They have a very nice farm and while staying two months with them I was able to enjoy this peaceful and happy life. Mary and Ray (the grandparents) are two beautiful people who only add beauty and value to this family. The farm jobs are not difficult because Wendi makes it a nice and enjoyable experience. Things are well planned and organized. It is a very pleasant and even enjoyable job feeding animals.

The dinner times are a delightful pleasure and entertainment with the whole family. They cook very good food and I cooked as well. All volunteers should come to this farm and get to know this beautiful family and farm. 

John is a very intelligent man who loves to read a ton. He is so knowledgeable and I have learned a lot from this family. They also have been helping me practice my English while Wendi and I have worked on Turkish. I've also gotten to teach the kiddos some Turkish as well!

I know that I will never say goodbye to this farm and this wonderful family, because I will come again for sure. Thank you Wendi and John for adding value and joy to my life!"

#23 Anni (frequent visits beginning in 2017)
Anni met our family by attending a conference on the farm. She then started coming back now and then on weekends and when we had big projects to help us. She works at the deaf school in Knoxville and has become a very dear friend to me as well as someone my kids and dogs love as well! This lady is truly one of the types of people that makes the world a better place, and we love having her come and help us on the farm. She is also incredibly strong and can handle nearly any job the farm throws at her. 

#24 Pilar (local friend who volunteered pictured in front)
Pilar attended our church and is hoping to start her own farm someday so she spent some time helping us here at our farm. She's a lovely lady, and while she has other commitments now that keep her from volunteering, we are so blessed for what time she did have fo us!

#25 Sicong (January 2018)
I was on a "take a break from visitors" stretch when Sicong contacted us through And man am I so glad he came and spent two weeks with us -- especially the two weeks of the ballet which are soooo busy. He is an incredibly intelligent, diligent, observant, and kind man. He's currently getting ready to finish up his last year at MIT, and he was just a fantastic joy to have here on our farm. We sure hope he'll come back to visit again!

Review from Sicong: 

"I spent a beautiful two weeks on John and Wendi’s farm. An incredible first Workaway experience that leaves me itching to go back.

The work was very reasonable and entirely manageable, and I always felt trusted on their farm and in their home. The animals were a joy to work with. Even the mischievous pigs, with their insatiable zest for life. The land is beautiful, everything you’d expect rural Appalachia to be.

Most of all, I so deeply admire this family for the great people that they are and the things they stand for. These are some of the kindest people you will ever meet. Thoughtful conversations with John and Wendi, time spent with Grandpa Ray and Grandma Mary, and afternoons hanging with the kids were such a joy. I always felt completely welcome and included in the family.

John and Wendi’s family, and their agricultural enterprise, represent some of the very best that America has to offer. And I think just about anyone can learn something from John and Wendi’s incredibly disciplined and principled parenting. Incredibly admirable, and perhaps the biggest lesson I will be taking with me.

Thank you for everything!"

#26 Nico (April and May 2018)
Nico came to us via our friend/wwoofer Jacob. They were working together at another farm, and he decided to come here for about a month. Nico is an amazing guy. A tremendous worker. And super easy to have around. We were under intense renovations during the time and didn't know where/how we would eat our next meal without a kitchen, but he handled it flawlessly. 

Review from Nico:

"I had the pleasure of staying with the Kitsteiners in April and May 2018 and really enjoyed the experience! Wendy and John are both incredibly nice and accommodating. I came here to deepen my knowledge of permaculture and absolutely did through the very informative conversations I had with John. It is such a great learning experience seeing the permaculture functions on their homestead and how it works for them in this region. If you come here prepare for amazing meals, great hospitality, and an incredible learning opportunity."

#27 & 28 (Summer 2018)
I don't usually host couples here at the farm, but this couple was a farm nearby that hadn't worked out for them so I decided to give them a try. They were fantastic and a huge help on the farm. Uliana did a lot of cooking and cleaning, and Ivan did a huge amount of work on electrical/Internet issues we were having. They also helped a ton on the farm. It was a great month with this Russian couple on our farm. 

Review from Ivan: 

This was an absolutely the best experience for me and my wife. We loved the experience we acquired with electric fence and it comes handy on our current farm-stead. It was fun working with kids once in a while. My wife was happy to make some hand-knitted hats for ladies in the household. My wife learned to be friendly with dogs, pigs, ducks, and geese. We enjoyed visiting their church, it was an awesome experience to see other peoples faith. We were able to cook on our own when there was a remodeling, and we felt very appreciated for our flexibility and our ability to work in that environment. I've decided to help them with their internet issues, so I just ripped out all of the staff and made it more out of sight out of mind system that is more reliable for them and their future guests. We were able to take a walk around their perimeter that is a little over 4 miles and it's somewhat steep at times, but it's rewarding. It was a fun thing to find that lost contact in the ATV that I bet John and Wendy spend time and money to find the issue, all it was just lost negative to ECU. It was fun to play with dogs on our brakes and free time. We got some good ideas about egg mobile that we can implement on our future farms. Also, I was fun to have over a hundred followers (chickens) during the animal chores. We were surprised when hosted appreciated that we were able to move animals on our own, it's easy. John and Wendy made sure that we are happy with our stay and that we have everything we need, thanks for your care of us. We loved that way we were able to use Trello to plan our days and projects. It was sad for us to go on to the next farm. We wish to come back here again. 

Hope to see you guys again. Thank you.

#29 Alexa
Alexa is a singer/song-writer living in Asheville, NC who came to us for the weekdays for a three week period. What a joy she was! Super outgoing, upbeat, happy, helpful, and honest. The kids loved her! She taught knitting, music class, and how to make granola. We are really hoping we will stay in touch with her in the future being as she lives so close. 

Review from Alexa: 

"I first heard the expression "salt of the earth" from my mother, who used it to mean, "just downright good people." John and Wendi are truly the salt of the earth. They are reliable, hardworking, straightforward, and have an excellent sense of humor and zest for farm life. They are full of great advice and stories about not only farming, but parenting, traveling around the world, and pursuing your dreams. I also had the joy of experiencing a snapshot of their growing family, who are wonderful, curious, and comedic kids ages 5-9. I loved teaching the children a few things here and there on homeschool days, and as they are very smart kids, they taught me just as much. If you stay at the farm for a while, you are also likely to meet some community members and extended family, who were all truly kind and positive people to be around in the three weeks I spent there. As hosts, J & W were very accommodating and always made me feel like I could ask if I needed something. And another plus, the farm is beautiful and left me feeling centered and inspired to have chickens at my house. I live not too far over the mountain in NC, and I would love to come back again. Strongly strongly recommend!"

#30 Alena
Alena is a 20 year about-to-be-college-freshman from Germany. Her dad is American and her mom German. She spent her life in-between Maui and Germany. Her English was great, she cooked us some great food, and the kids really enjoyed her help with school work. 

Review from Alena: 
"My stay here was amazing. I felt very welcome and the kids were fun to be around. I loved taking care of the chickens and sheep and cooking with the family. I left not only with a great experience but with new friends. Thank you so much for this wonderful time!"

#31 Leiselore
"Laura" came to us from Belgium and spoke Flemish. This was fun as we had Joni here, and the could communicate as you can see in the video above. Laura was a joy to have. She was fantastic with the kiddos and a very kind soul!

"When you arrive, you feel welcome from the first moment! John, Wendi and the grandparents (who live nearby) are really kind people. They are so thankful for all the help they get. I had interesting conversations with them about farming and the cultural differences. I really felt appriciated. It's never boring overthere. The kids are a real entertainment and also a lot of visitors come over to the house. The farm is really beautiful. My main chores were taking care of the chickens, sheep and ducks. I also helped with gardening, cooking and empty the dishwasher. If you want to experience the farmlife, like kids, love nature, ... send them a great message!"

#32 Anna-Lisa
Anna-Lisa was from Germany. Soft-spoken, she warmed up more and more over the time she with us, and we were really sad to see her go. She was such a kind person, and she had a lot of cool stuff to share with us. She was only here a week which wasn't nearly long enough to truly get to know her, but we hope she can come back some day and share more again!

My time on the Farm with the Family was really great! I only stayed for a week, but it was really nice and they are so open and welcoming. It was super interesting and super fun to learn a little bit about how a farm works and help with the animal chores. My flight got canceled on my way there, but Wendi was really great at communicating and really flexible about the pick up, even though she had a farm and four kids to take care of. ;) There is also always something going on at the farm and there is always someone new to meet or somebody to talk to. Such a great family! I really enjoyed my time and I hope I can get back there someday!

#33 Lena
Lena was an interesting story. She contacted me on another farm that wasn't working out for her. I was booked at the time with both Jacob and Tijmen and didn't have space. So I asked Anni if she'd want to host her for a week until she could fly to her next location. Anni took her in. They got along wonderfully. They even came to the farm for a day to let Lena see our place and us to meet her. We took the picture above of five blondes in one place at one time. 

"I messaged Wendi when I had a bad experience at another farm. She wasn’t able to host me because her house was full be she was so kind to set me up with a friend of hers and my experience could not have been any better. I even went up to her house one day and got to know the farm and her beautiful family. I felt home right away and I had such a great time . I will for sure come back whenever I will be in the area again. Thank you so much again Wendi!"
#34 Jake
Jake came to us thinking his visit would be fairly short. But then COVID hit and the world shut down for a while. He ended up being with us for almost seven months. Jake LOVED the dogs. And they LOVED him. He was a very funny guy who was super EASY to have here on the farm. He ate almost anything, never complained, and would look for work to do to keep himself busy even on slow days. I know it got a little hard for him to have to be "stuck" here during this pandemic, but he did it without complaint. Jake is from Boston and had been doing a lot of golf caddy work and even some work in corporate America, but I think the combo of our farm and the world "falling apart" like it did while he was here, may lead him into a much more purposeful, slow, family-centered life, which makes us all super happy.

For more information on becoming a WWOOFer on our farm, 
you can visit JB's website here.
Click here for a great list of "Do's and Don'ts" for WWOOFers.