My second WWOOFing experience was on a farm with animals. It was located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department and very much isolated, which was perfect for me. In fact, it was both a farm and a Tai chi centre! Colin was in charge of the farm and his mom ran the Tai chi centre. It was very laid back at times, but when we were working…we really got to work.
Interestingly, when I arrived, WWOOFers were staying in the newly renovated rooms for Tai chi clients which was nice the first week. However, like the last time, I eventually made the move outdoors with my tent. We also had no choice, as the rooms would be used the following week. Unlike the last experience, where Natacha would do a lot of the cooking, meals were prepared by the whole group of WWOOFers.
What did I do?
1) Taking care of the animals
Colin had many sheep and a few goats that he had to move every 3 or 4 days, so that meant we had to take out the fencing and set new boundaries so that the animals could graze in a new area. This was a lot of work!
There were chickens as well. Close to the WWOOFing quarters were the hens that laid fresh eggs for us (and also some ducks!) We would feed the chickens and also look for eggs. Chickens that were kept closer to the sheep were ones that would be eaten. We killed about 8 or was it 10 chickens one day. They were beheaded, feathers were plucked and then the day after we harvested their organs (stomach, heart and liver). What an experience! There were two pigs also on the farm – I think they would be killed for meat sometime in the fall. They ate our compost.
2) There was a greenhouse and a small garden that Colin was growing. I spent hours weeding and setting up irrigation system in the garden.
3) Renovation work
From time to time, Colin would help out his mother with things for the Tai Chi Centre. For instance, they were preparing for summer workshops and so we had to set up facilities for participants. Also, we took part in building an outdoor kitchen for WWOOFers.
4) FREE TIME!
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?
1) WWOOFing is very personal. You really get to know the farmers, their values, their beliefs and perspective on life. You learn about the culture, peoples’ hardships and what people do for fun! Also, you might meet other WOOFers along the way!
2) Gained confidence in speaking French and learned some new vocabulary and expressions! The best way to learn a language or improve is to fully immerse yourself in an environment where you can’t speak your maternal language.