Many people ask us, “Where are the children when you’re volunteering on the WWOOF farms?” They are right beside me of course! I really feel like I have eyes in the back of my head now! My parents always said that to me growing up, and I was reminded of that many times during this process. WWOOFing with a two and five year old is challenging on farms with varied landscapes and dangers, but it is so worth it!
The day is broken up into two work parts: morning work, then lunch break (riposo or mezzigorno) for a couple of hours, and then afternoon work. Every day the hours vary as does the work. Usually we get up and dressed in our work clothes and out the door by 8ish.
Our last farm we had to hike 30 minutes to get to the main farm to find out our duties for the day. The farm was large (1,200 acres), so we needed to pack everything we wanted for the day. There was no going back to get something! Most days we would pack or wear our rain coats since the weather has been abnormal here in Italy this Spring of 2013 with tons of rain and colder weather. Then we would pack lots of fruit/snacks, a pocket knife, water bottles, ergo kid carrier, umbrella, crayons/coloring book, lavender oil (for bug bites), tweezers, toilet paper, and lastly the iPad (yep I said it). The iPad was our last resort when we needed to finish a task and the kids were melting down.
Once we found out our task for the day we would make a base camp where we were working. Then Jay or I would check out the area and tell the kids some boundaries of where they could go and what they could do (“don’t go near the large drop off and landslide” or “don’t pull the cat’s tail”). Then they were off to play. With what you ask? Sticks, rocks, earthworms (a definite favorite), grass, flowers, chickens, cows, dogs, cats, bugs, everything! The kids would hunt for wild asparagus, fennel and other herbs, they would collect the eggs from the coop, and help plant in the garden or pull weeds. It is pretty awesome when you see your kids offering to help you with work. They are both really great helpers and get enjoyment out of helping out or having tasks of their own.
Then there are the days that the kids were tired and cranky. We tried to keep a routine in the midst of lots of change. On the rough days we would just keep on and encourage them. We have a family rule in our house of no whining. We tell them, “If you are upset, speak to us and we promise to listen, but no whining.” On some days one of us would need to take a break and keep the kids at home so they could rest, while the other would go work.
There is a silly Veggie Tales song called “The Thankfulness Song” that we would sing all the time. It was good reminder to the kids for perspective- and us some days as well. The lyrics go like this:
I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!
For our home on the ground,
For His love that’s all around,
That’s why I say thanks every day!
Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I’m glad for what I have,
Thats an easy way to start!
For the love that He shares,
‘Cause He listens to my prayers,
That’s why I say thanks every day!
Some days it is a breeze and some days are really challenging. The keys to success have been: everyone getting rest, keeping somewhat of a routine, being prepared, and of course a positive outlook. We are dealing with the same things every parent deals with on a daily basis. We still have attitudes to keep in line, bellies to be fed, teeth coming in, and owies on our knees. The only difference is that we’re on the road. Life goes on no matter where you’re at. WWOOFing with children has been a great experience and I am so glad we are doing it!
The Silly Stuff:
Both kids are farmer snot pros!
Romolo grabbed a fuzzy cactus one day and got thousands of splinters in both of his hands. Poor guy!
Romolo peed his pants two hours into a four hour hike. Then he walked and/or was carried the rest of the way naked with his hiking shoes and shirt on. Of course I didn’t pack a change of clothes that day.
One day, after a long rain, large puddles of water collected outside of the Cattle pens in the divots from the tractor tires. Some of the water was probably a little run off. Well what would you guess but Stella, Rum, and a few other kids were happily splashing in the water – yep pretty gross! Straight to the shower they all went!
Stella found a headless bunny in the laundry area. She was not phased at all, but was actually impressed because she thought the cat had caught it. “MOM!!! Look what gatto caught!” The bunny was much larger than the cat and was probably caught by a fox =) In fact she has seen quite a few dead, skinned and gutted animals. With no hesitation at all, she just asks, “Are we going to eat that?”