WWOOF: Willing to work on organic farms…or am I?

I started out in Auckland, only the find the rain a bit too drab for my liking.

First things first.  My host family has kindly given me a new set of clothing including heavy-duty jackets and over sized pants to help me survive their winter while working outside.

It has been four weeks now that I have been living out of a garage for a privileged architect and his kiwi family in Karekare.  I can assure you this is not what I signed up for a month ago when I called from a hostel pay phone after  just having landed in Auckland, New Zealand.

There are many varied experiences of working for free, and I recognize this one experience does not reflect the entire system.  However there have been obstacles to overcome that lead me to search for bigger pastures (literally).

  • So this is what it feels like to trap your thoughts in your head for days on end while working by yourself…
  • Bittersweet emotions roam through me when extremely difficult tasks of ripping gorse out of the ground are rewarded with hot soup and a damp bed.
  • Finally got around to listening to my entire ipod, twice.
  • Who ever said being a farmer was easy work?? How does ANYONE have time for house duties afterwards?
  • Weekend trips with the family to watch their daughters soccer game are the closest thing to freedom.
  • I am an avid pen pal and rely on the sanity of my friends from home.  (Thanks for the three of you who stuck it out)
  • Waterfalls and beaches are gorgeous, but I feel jaded after staring at three pastures full of weeds all day.

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Don’t get me wrong, this has been an incredible experience that I would gladly do again (perhaps in a different setting under different time restraints), but being here has made me realize how lost I am.  While WOOFing is a great way to get on your feet in a foreign country, or simply to  learn more about self-sustainability, I DO NOT recommend offering your services for a month:

  1. st week – happy introductions & joyful overtime
  2. nd week – settled and dissatisfaction planting seed
  3. rd week – over analyse environment and lose focus of goals
  4. th week – excited to leave and acquired sense of ‘finishing the job strong’

In theory I imagine you could just omit the 2nd and 3rd weeks by shorting your stay to a maximum of two-weeks.  That or you go through the same emotions, but they just pass through you quickly like a whirl wind (oh hey, that’s what life feels like)!

Guess who bought tickets on a tour bus today?!  Best remedy to working for free for an ENTIRE month is always blow some cash on drinks and entertainment. As of tomorrow I am going to stop feeding ducks every morning at 7am, digging holes in the ground for random crop, hammering garden gates and raised flower beds, weed whacking over 15 acres of open pasture, so much weed whacking, removing super prickly gorse plants with gloves, throwing weird white stuff over soil in hopes of removing evil potato chemicals that enable new plants to grow (tell me about it…?), high pressure water hosing of pathways (why do you need 5 entries to a home anyway?), removing overgrown hedge and trimming of trees, spraying pathways AGAIN (why didn’t I listen the first time??), removing unwanted plants near honey bee farm, chopping solid trees with an ax to create firewood, watching Kris sulk in deep pain from pulling his shoulder doing my share of chopping firewood (I would say I earned some lumberjack credibility after 5 pieces), cleaning windows on ladders with vinegar, and secretly playing in flak-forts with their ten-year old daughter…think I will miss that last one.

Oh and I chopped 6 inches off my hair now that I am a rugged wildness girl and all…yes, it is crooked.

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