A Teaching Farm

Having  young people to stay on the farm turns the property from a working farm to a teaching farm for half the year. A place of learning.   This is the first year that this distinction has become so clear. As well as being the Farmer I have subconsciously arranged my life so I can still be a Teacher for the summers. Many of the woofer farms use the young people as unpaid labour and of course there is an element of that. We do work hard. But they are not working for me they work with me and I work as hard as they do. They take important clear linear ordinary knowledge away with them when they leave.  Difficult and Aunty Anna

And not just farm skills.  Farm life also teaches Life Skills. They learn the power of self sufficiency.  The joy of success. Organisation. (Being tidy is pretty important on a farm).  Observation of animal behaviour – the clues to health. The importance of moving slowly with intent when herding. They learn to cook simple meals for large families (we are seven this week including John and I) and take away hand written meal plans and recipes so they can continue cooking at home.  They learn to grow food. Garden. They learn to make lists and do the grocery shopping.  They take a gallon of milk and turn it into a food.  So much.

Their skin always clears, they get suntans, gumboot lines, their hands get stronger and they develop serious muscles.

So even though this started out because I needed help on the farm, the farm itself has become a vehicle of learning and success. And I take deep satisfaction from that.  There are few things more joyful to me than seeing a young person step into their boots,  pull on their gloves and taking the steps at a run enter the struggle and find success and joy from it.  Seeing that smile of KNOWING they are doing a job that has worth. That was hard. That took sweat. Then bringing the bounty in from the garden at the end of the day so we can cook it.  Feeding people is so fundamental.  Eating together after a day working together fills more than bellies.Plonkers

So, Finally I have realised that I am teaching again so it is time to get even more organised.  Yesterday I downloaded a program called OneNote and am learning how to use it efficiently. Have you ever used it?  I can access it from my phone as well as the computer and it will store all my lists and plans in one place.   I can update AS I think of something – fewer lost thoughts. Plus I can send the lists and instructions straight to the workers. So they have the information on their phones too. We are trialing that part today.

One Note also enables me to access photos on my phone from the computer which is a useful shortcut.

There is no reason why we cannot use these technologies to improve the work.

The black boards will always be the first port of call for the work of the day, and there is a book we have written describing the jobs, but I need to go one more step in my own planning to avoid being overwhelmed.  This will ensure that the young people and the farm get the most out of our available time. The summers are so short. Poppy and Manu

Today the French boys are coming.  For a week there will be five young people working. This week my original two take a leadership role and train their replacements.  So there is plenty of room for good organisation.

Yesterday I began the cows breeding program. I brought Aunty Anna back to the home farm (to keep her away from Carlos as she is too young).  Naomi will cycle again in a couple of weeks so she and Carlos the Tiny are together.

Aunty Del has been given her milking collar – her udder took a whopping jump in size yesterday. She came into the milking shed after Lady Astor was finished and then would not leave. She stood about and lazily watched me divide up the milk and clean the buckets until it was time to clean the walls and floors, I had to literally pushed her out the door so I could get on with my work.  She is such a nice heifer – I hope all goes well for her.  I would like to keep her if I can. aunty-del-5

I will take Sundays off from the blog in future so I can use that writing time as my own study time.  I need to keep improving to ensure that the students who come here get the best experience possible and the farm gets the best help possible.

Kevin is Kitchen Mama (plus Water Boy) today.  Victoria will be the Gardener and Milk Maid.  I will be the Swine Herd and Chicken Wrangler.  Victoria and I will divide up everything else.  Mckenna returns from her days off this evening and the French Boys Axel and Sammy arrive this evening as well. Then it will be a fuller than usual house until Kevin and Victoria leave on Saturday.

It is time for me to write the boards!

I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi



39 Comments on “A Teaching Farm

  1. What a very useful life you lead. Not only do you teach your Woofers, you teach us too, and bring so much pleasure to the Fellowship.

    your words ” I would like to keep her if I can ” make me realise how sad you must be at inevitable partings with Farmy animals and birds.

    ViV xox

  2. oh wow.. you are so well organized. but for you is necessary to keep the little cogs in good working order so that the machine runs well . also using technology is vital. young people have grown up with this so it is good that it will become part of the organisation of the farm. i do so admire your ideas and your tenacity i just wish i could do such work but at 77 its not conducive to health. Have fun and love to all

  3. I love your wonderful approach! Summer has arrived in our neck of the woods so need to be as organized as you!

  4. I haven’t been around for a while C, but what a great post to come back to.
    I use EverNote – I guess the same but different to your OneNote. I would not survive without EverNote.
    Have wonderful and happy day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  5. Your “team” is such a great help around the farm but I would imagine the fellowship around the meal table is amazing each evening as well as you all share your lives.

  6. I love the idea that you are teaching them heritage skills. Care of animals and poultry, growing vegetables, cooking, dairy work… 100 years ago, anyone who lived in the country would have learned and used all these skills every day. I’m so glad you’re around to pass the skills on to the young, who’d otherwise have no idea what it used to take to feed a household.

  7. Yes, the woofers are learning so much on the farmy! So wonderful!!! I also love it the the departing ones teach the newer ones the jobs! Very cool! 🙂

  8. My comment disappeared while typing it, how rude 🙂 I was trying to say that your wwoofers are developing managerial and delegation skills without bullying, little do they know it.
    OneNote sounds like a great aid, must look into it. Have you upgraded your laptop to Windows 10 yet? I totally resisted Windows 8. Miss C you have been educating us on the differences between one end of a pig to the other end of a cow and a lot more besides, for a long time. Have a good week. Laura

  9. It has been quite an educational adventure, following your blog for about 5 years (trial and error lessons of a newbie farmer in a harsh climate with the sheep, the goats, the noisy but useless guinea fowl, the bees, the wine grapes, a huge and beautiful milk cow with major udder problems, malfunctioning incubators and reproductively challenged NZ pigs and not-speaking-about-one-special-ever-growing-pet-hog) to right now, and watching you go from Learner to Teacher. As a professor myself, I appreciate how beautifully you have slipped into the role of mentor for those lovely young people from all over the world, future custodians and producers of our food. It’s a cliche, but like ripples in a pool, they will spread their new knowledge while also treasuring the days spent on your particular farmy with you and the others. IMHO, best educational experience possible, what’s known as a Virtuous Circle. Well done, Celia!

    PS, I did try EndNote and OneNote but find that, as a Mac addict, they didn’t perform better than my combination of iPhone/MacBookAir/iMac with built-in apps for all that. And all are usable internationally even in Shanghai, where I am teaching a summer course at the moment.

  10. It looks as if someone should be assigned to Plonker patrol as well. Those pigs seem to just be itching to dig under that wire fence. I think you are spot on with the use of some new technology. It not only helps you but it also will feel very familiar to the young helpers who are so focused on phones and apps and the like.

  11. Your are doing a great job teaching skills to young people that are lost in today’s world of factory farming. I remember sitting on our kitchen table being teased by our farm workers.

  12. Love all of this, and I love that you have realized how much you are teaching (not only the woofers, but your readers) and now getting even more organized for it. As a writer myself, one with a fair amount of experience about what works in the marketplace, I think you should write a book. In your spare time. 🙂 And I love OneNote, I use it all the time. For me, it is better than EverNote because it is simpler. Works just great for me.

  13. everyone should have such a dedicated teacher as you! Have a lovely day with your students! Big hugs to all.

  14. You are certainly teaching them very important life skills that they will never forget and we are all learning a bit along the way. Keep up the great work!

  15. Your organization is amazing! I am Mac-based, so I have been using Evernote and like it quite well. Fingers crossed that Auntie Del will get her milking act together. It sounds as though she is not averse to being in the parlour!

  16. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on teaching and life on the farm. Enrichment programs for persons and beasts. Throughly enjoyable!

  17. How do the woofers find out about your farm/visits/education? I’m curious as to what brings young people from France to Illinois! We live in the country in Iowa but are NOT farmers! Thanks for the information and I LOVE all of your photos!

    • WWoofer.com. And to answer your second question I have no idea why they want to come right here to my farm. But we have international people every year.

  18. The simple idea of working for a visible job well done is very much lost these days – doing something daily for money at the end of the week isn’t fulfilling at all. Being able to see and smell and taste the work done in a day is so powerful and valuable. I’m not only proud of you, but of these young people who choose to educate themselves in this way.

  19. I had no idea you had expanded as you have, congratulations! Do you still rent out the matron’s house? Where do all the kids sleep? I’m very impressed Celi, you are truly an amazing woman.

  20. Does Ton always keep a close watch on the milking stanchion like that? What an amazing farm hand you have in him too!

  21. When the student is ready the teacher will appear… it appears on the Farmy everyone is both. Never stop learning, and learning is wasted unless it is shared.

  22. I love OneNote. Although I use it mostly at work, I can see how it could be incredibly useful for you. I also use a sharable list app called Wunderlist. So simple to use – and I do use it every single day.

  23. I love what Dale said (above). So true. Obviously you are living in the flow of what you are meant to be doing, because it is hard and you could not do it otherwise. Best wishes to you all.

  24. Proves the adage: once a teacher, always a teacher. Your summer sounds like it will be wonderful with all this fine help. Our farm is a teaching place too. This year I have an all new crew of 6 made up of: one very mature 14 year old, a college student who has just finished his first year, a recent college graduate who studied agriculture and sustainability in school, two interns from a nearby community college, and one very enthusiastic volunteer. I will say this is the best group yet. We are in full-on teaching/learning mode. Not sure who’s learning more, them or me! We all seem to be having fun though.

  25. Teaching is a wonderful thing. When we have children here, we walk through the woods and I teach them about insects, mammals, plants and all of the fascinating things I learned when I used to walk so much with Daisy deer. I love that we are always learning too… or at least doing some serious pondering! 😀

  26. Good for you – realizing when it is time to regroup/reorganize. I so admire what you are doing there on your “farmy”. Hope you are enjoying this strawberry moon.

  27. One Note: Love the idea, but cannot make it work. I have tried but it isn’t intuitive to me (most software is) so I went back to diaries and whiteboards. I even PRINT photos – quelle horreur! I actually love the fact that a fresh photographic image can become physical reality in moments. Digital photography is so disposable, too disposable. The images are not considered or composed (yours are). Maybe a bit of art school could creep into your lessons? Nice prints are treasures for the future.
    Your blog always gets me thinking…

  28. Such a lovely, reflective post. It’s so true that these young people will learn life skills with you that they’ll take with them through the years and hopefully pass them on as they go through life. As we did, if we were lucky enough to have wonderful people like you teaching and inspiring us.

  29. You NEVER fail to amaze me!! One Note sounds perfect – what a great idea to use it!! You also have a great idea to not post on Sundays… we’ll miss you but you’ll be able to get so much done. Again – you continue to amaze me constantly!! ; o )

  30. If only I were younger… I would love the opportunity to test myself in an environment like yours stretching and learning new skills each day. Enjoy your Sundays, sometimes we readers can be selfish of your time. It is only because we are hungry to learn for our expert.

    I wish I could sing one note nevermind have One Note to keep track of my life!

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