In between Time

I am sitting in my hotel room in Los Angeles, California. I have a long list of paper work that is not really paper work  it is all done on the computer but you know what I mean.

First order of the day for us is to write the questionnaire for potential woofers. Young women and men are already starting to get in touch to organise the farms that they want to work on this summer. This year i thought I would send them a list of questions so I can get a better handle on what they want AND they will get a better idea of what I want.

I thought you might like to have a read and let me know your thoughts. As a member of the Fellowship you will be watching these young people arrive and following them as they discover Our Farm.

The first draft is below.

Here is the view from my hotel window.. and the window is open and the air is not frozen!

Keep in mind that I am taking bookings right now for this coming summer for The Coop. If you want to come out for a week or even a few days as a guest in The Coop do book ahead. I would love to have you. Pop into the Opportunities page for an update.

I hope you have a lovely day. I fly out at 9pm tonight for Auckland, New Zealand, then catch another plane to Wellington,  there I will be picked up by the bride and after a shower and a change we will be catching the ferry out to Somes Island for a picnic with a few of her other girlfriends. Then a dinner in town. So Camera house and I will hit the ground running!  I have been water loading for three days now, getting my body absolutely hydrated for the long journey. I really, really do not have time to be jet lagged this time.

The wedding is just over a week away! Lots to do! Lots to eat. Lots of champagne!

I hope you all have a lovely day.

Your friend in transit


OK here is the questionnaire.

Wwoofers Questionnaire

Welcome potential toilers on The Farmy. Our place is small, divided between two barns that are 10 minutes walk apart and very busy in the summer with cows, calves, (milk cows and beef cows)  pigs and piglets, (Kunekune and Hereford) chickens both broilers and layers, (everything on pasture) big gardens for both vegetables and flowers. My routine is diverse and fast moving, so I like to get a jump start on  getting to know you so that we can both get the best from this experience.

Many jobs on the farm are deeply satisfying, like cleaning the winter out of the barn, washing out and refilling all the water troughs on a hot day, planting and weeding and watering the gardens. Cleaning out the milking shed, making cheese and butter, then baking bread and eating it ALL! Watching calves being born and little piglets grow.  Making soap or picking for herbal oils. Just to mention a few. But often this work is hard physically. Hard in short bursts. Many young people cannot keep up with me.  I want to know if you can.

First I expect you to work three hours every morning, with a break for breakfast. The list of work for the day will be on the board in the Cloak Room. Then in the afternoons after your siesta – a couple of hours on the jobs you choose from the list (which may be housework or cooking, or brushing dogs, or weeding, or carpentry, prepping dinner, organizing the barn, maintenance on the barns, shifting electric fences), then later another hour or so on evening chores or dinner prep. So you will have two good long breaks every day to do your own reading or sleeping under a tree.  You only need to work five days, leaving any two days,  to explore the area.  Chicago is just over an hours drive away or you can join Route 66 in 30 minutes.

You will need to supply me with a copy of some form of official ID before you arrive.

Read through the questions, answer the pertinent points, in another colour, and let me know if you think we are a match.

  1. Do you like the early mornings? When we work in the summer I find it better to get the hardest chores done in the early morning before it gets too hot. Can you have yourself up and in the barn ready to work by 7.30 am. Or earlier? I start around 6am.  Are you an early bird?
  2. All our milk, yoghurt, butter, cheese and ice-cream is made from fresh raw milk. Are you OK with that? Do you want to learn how to make fresh cheeses and ice cream?
  3. Have you any experience in carpentry? Can you help repairing buildings and fences.
  4. I will be supplying your food. You will be helping to grow it. Which means that you get to eat like I do. I do not eat processed foods at all. I do not eat food I cannot recognize. I do not eat foods with a genetically modified component. In the morning we have  my home made granola and fresh milk, fresh home-made yoghurt and fruit and coffee or tea. Lunches are usually smoothies. Dinners are all home made from food from the farm – then we eat together and discuss our day and our tomorrow at the big table. Can you live on a diet of fresh food? Food you grow yourself? Are you happy to help with the preparation and cleaning up at meal times?  Can you cook? Bake? Would you like to learn or just assist?
  5. Does shoveling manure bother you? Are you afraid of germs? Do you like to keep your clothes clean? Do you mind getting sweaty and hot as long as you can jump in the pool afterwards?
  6. Are you OK with no television, no air conditioning, no loud sound systems, (though we do have internet.) Do you read books? Paint? Write?
  7. Do you have enough money to last your stay? I will supply food. If you like a beer, juices, junk food, snacks you will need to supply those yourself. Is that Ok? Do you smoke?
  8. Do you have a car? Will you need me to collect you from the railway station?
  9. Can you work unsupervised? Can you ask questions? It is very important to be able to ask questions. I expect hundreds of questions in the first week.
  10. If you find you like it on the farm, and we work well together, how long do you expect to stay? If you are bringing camping equipment you can stay for longer periods. There is also an upstairs garret bedroom and adjoining loft sitting area with a day bed, in the house, available for workers. And lovely areas to camp in.  How does that sound to you?
  11. If you have a problem, how are you going to handle it? If you feel you are doing too much work or not enough, or you need more clarity about a task what are you going to do? If you find the area on the farm that you love the most and want to focus on developing your knowledge, are you able to come and tell me so that we can redraw your list so you can start to specialise.
  12. Other than the obvious, why do you want to come and live and work on my farm? 

40 Comments on “In between Time

  1. I shall be thinking of you arriving in Auckland… I should think it’s in about half an hour from now .. wish I had tried to cross that bridge in rush hour!
    happy, happy days, Valerie

  2. I can’t wait to hit New Zealand! Take me somewhere warm? One day we will see a tuatara.

    You might ask if they have any dietary restrictions/health issues. You need that on paper from the very beginning.

  3. Another cloudless warm haymaking day here North of Orc – Nice to think your world will brush past mine so close. I will keep an eye on the sky this morning and give you a wave 🙂 That questionnaire will weed them out.

  4. Many an employer could learn from your list of questions for candidates to work on the farmy. I like the clear view in LA. We have has snow, ice and wind that turned the trees horizontal while howling angrily round the rooftops. I am staying cosy and warm and out of troubles way. Now relax and enjoy!

  5. What a great questionnaire! We’re thinking of getting into the WOOFER thing to help out around the place when we head off to visit family. We can’t keep relying on neighbours to look after everything, especially when we branch into ‘Quail Enterprises’! Thanks for the food for thought, you’ve been a great help. Travel safely!

  6. You know, I have to say, that questionnaire is as inspiring as it is information-getting. It sets me to dreaming…but on a serious note, you ask wonderful questions. I think you’ve covered it brilliantly.

  7. Love the pic, and the distant landscape, reminds me of my stay in LA… over a decade ago now. Excellent questionnaire, it sets out the parameters smartly, but put a smile on my face as I can only imagine the experiences from which the questions evolved… I’d love to be able to use some of the questions to qualify potential houseguests 😉 I’m so happy for you that you’ve hit the warmer weather zone.

  8. I like your questionnaire. To the point and straightforward. I loved Viv’s comment, “should weed out any hopeless or helpless candidates”. That was my thought exactly!!

  9. Good questions. Should weed out the lazy, helpless, high maintenance and junk food-addicted. You’ve obliquely asked about their conflict management skills, whether they’re self starters and whether they have anything to offer you. If you can find an equally oblique way to ask whether they have tolerance issues or hold strong beliefs on potentially contentious subjects that might head off doomsday preppers, extremists of any kind or those who need to get out of sight for a while!

      • Something along the lines of if they play well with others, if they are accepting of different opinions and methods, if they believe that peace in the house is more important than being right all the time….

  10. Excellent questions! I may borrow them for my WOOFERs. I agree about adding any dietary/health restrictions. And in addition, I would add that candidates must be able to lift 50 lbs (the weight of a bag of layer pellets, bale of hay, etc…) Have a wonderful week and soak up some warm to bring back with you!

    • oh yes, that is a good one, few can.. but by the time they leave here they ALL can.. we build muscles down here down the farm.. bet you will too! c

  11. You may also want to include something about attire, what clothing they might want to/should bring, something along that line. The health and dietary issues I see are in the comments now. Good. Those are important.

    LA looks so warm compared to here in Minnesota, although the temp is rising and is expected to reach a balmy 40 degrees Saturday.

    Safe travels into the arms of your loved ones, my dear. What a time you will have. Cheers.

  12. It’s a great questionnaire and I like the points that people have added. Would you ned to ask them about their attitudes to animals (eg. rearing them not just as pets but as potential food) you don’t want any squeamish or preachy folk landing on your doorstep!

  13. I have had legal stuff re: a property rental going on here recently so that is why these suggestions are being made.The main thought that came to mind is-does your insurance cover any injuries that might be sustained by woofers/coop people while at the Farmy? If not, maybe tell potential people that they are liable for the costs of same and you will not be held legally responsible and that they need to have a legal document/written insurance policy copy to give you. Also state they cannot bring drugs and/or firearms and that those items are not allowed on the property.
    Aside from the morning chores, what other times of day do you expect them to do chores? 3 hours afternoon two hours evening or is it just morning chores that they are required to do?

  14. Smiled at the view you have just left: that blue sparkled!! Like the questionnaire but think Kate may have a point . . . . anyways no woofer can possibly arrive at your place and say “I did not know’! And actually you offer them a lot more ‘me’ time than I thought you would be able to!! If one has the youth and strength, what an experience!!

  15. my little sister just took a across the world tour WWOOFing and she loved it (and blogged the whole while!), she may have some good feedback for your questionnaire- I’ll share it with her, and she may also have advice for you as a host. She’s seen such diversity in situations, as well as other volunteers aptitudes and attitudes! it does seem you’ve covered some very important topics to see if you’ll be compatible beforehand. Melanie’s blog is Safe travels to you and enjoy your vacation!

    • Hi Celi!
      I think also you shouldnt hesitate to mention that farming is a lifestyle. I have met some WWOOFers along the way who seem to be into it for the free bed, only wanting to work the minimum. Emphasize you are offering an experience of how to live in correspondence, work with the earth and how that encompasses all your time. On the off chance you get a would-be free-loader, at least you have a challenge for yourself.. how to present an organic/sustainable lifestyle in an appealing, meaningful way. Great list. Can I stay with you? 😉 Good luck, hope you enjoyed the wedding!

  16. current meds, diseases,allergys,arrest history,work history,next of kin-contact info,
    i used to work with trustees from regonal jail at a former job, so all were reasonable questions.
    my favorite question was, any tattoos?
    lots of really bad prison art on display.

  17. What an interesting questionnaire. In regards to the smoking question will you let them smoke in the house? I hate the smell of cigarettes, cigars and most pipes. It usually gives me an awful headache and sore throat. I don’t think I could agree to have someone stay if they were a smoker. Plus the flicking of the cigarette butts irritates and worries me to no end. You do need to check into the insurance side of having people on the farmy.
    The header photo is quite the change from the view here at home. What really struck me, besides the leafy green trees in January, is all the cars visible from your window. Have a safe flight.

  18. Have a wonderful time in NZ!

    Someday, perhaps I could come and work on the farmy. I’d love to do some WWOOFing. 🙂 My elder brother WWOOFed a lot in Europe (Spain, France, Italy, the U.K…) when he was in his twenties and he had great experiences.

  19. I think your questionnaire is very good, and some very good extra ideas posted. Your itinerary sounds exhausting but so exciting! Can’t wait to see where you will be staying. How strange that we all peep into your life, but how lovely to be able to. Safe flying and boating x

  20. Love the tone of the questionnaire; it gives a good feeling of what they can expect and whether you’d get on. Only suggestion is to keep it simple as too many questions can feel a bit overwhelming. It should filter out anyone you don’t want and strongly attract the ones you do.

  21. This is a great idea! I’ve known folks who had great and terrible experiences with short-term volunteer help, and in some cases, more communication beforehand might have prevented a problem from ever happening.
    And not to sound negative I hope, but you might want to post a clear policy upfront about anything that’s non-negotiable and would mean WWOOFER would be asked to leave.

  22. I think that’s a wonderful and very thorough questionnaire! And after looking at #10, now that I know there’s an option to stay long term…I think I’ll just drive our camping trailer right onto your property and stay all summer. I have no problem with hard work. 😉

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