Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Happy Are They...Who Farm
In twelve days I'm going to live on a farm. This is not that shocking. Lots of people live on farms, they're called farmers and if you threw a dart at a map of upstate New York chances are it will obliterate the place where a farm would be indicated if we put farms on maps.
I have no idea if there will be electricity when I get there. I spoke to a few different prospective hosts and heard lots of possibilities. I could sleep in a tent (if I wanted to mow a piece of ground to stake it out on), I could stay in the unfinished barn, the hay loft, a bunk, in the cellar (if Arthur's brother isn't down there...), a room in the house. Some farms said they'd pick me up at the bus station, others encouraged hitch-hiking. They wanted to know if I smoked, if I minded smoking, if I took a lot of showers, if I could cook, if I liked children, ate meat, drank.
It may have been a good idea to press for more details but here's the deal-I'm volunteering to work there for just a few weeks. I'm a guest in their home, eating their food and sleeping on their blow up mattresses. So when they asked if I like to shower with hot water or had a problem with animals being slaughtered on the premises I tried to be as accommodating in my response as possible.
"Well, I don't eat a LOT of meat..."
"Oh no, not us either really, just you know maybe after we've slaughtered a goat we'll have meat for a few weeks, like that."
Guys...I'm probably going to eat a goat.
So when you're talking to these very down to earth (like they put their hands IN TO THE EARTH and food comes out) people and hoping they'll let you into their homes you don't want to ask some douchey question like, "Um, can I plug my Powerbook in? Because...it would be good for...illuminating the tent."
I'm not saying I wont see a light bulb all month but its definitely possible that I wont-ye gods!-check email. Still, documenting the experience is important to me, because I am the most interesting person in the world. No, seriously, I am....no, seriously, a few people wanted to know about Wwoofing-which to clarify stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (which is totally not what I've been telling people until I just double-checked now) and their website is wwoofusa.org. That's just for America, WWOOF is all over the world (Duh, world wide) and there's a different website for Canada, Europe, Australia...etc. It can get a little confusing and overwhelming. What WWOOF provides you with is a listing of their respective country's organic farms that have registered to be hosts. You go through the list contacting the farms that are in an area you find appealing to see if they need help/have space for you. If so, you get to go live with them and learn about where the food you eat back in the big city comes from and what goes into making it. Of course, most of the food being pipe-lined into the big city doesn't come from organic farms...
So I've started this blog and in the next twelve days I'm going to add to it with information (i.e. wild speculation and unfounded fears) about Wwoofing, getting ready, intentional communities, CSAs, my hacking cough, and whatever the hell else I feel like. During the actual WWOOF time upstate I may have to scratch on a piece of birch bark with a twig dipped in goat blood, but I plan to transcribe all that here upon my return along with photos.
Hopefully when the WWOOF experience is over my mental and physical scars wont be so disfiguring that I can't type. Stayed tuned to find out!