Before reading this, you might want to check out the first two parts:
- My WWOOF Experience Part One: California to WWOOF-USA North Carolina
- My WWOOF Experience Part Two: Barns, Bees, and Other Good Stuff
Now, the juicy stuff.
Confusion: What Exactly is My Job Again?
The first major issue on the homestead was communication. There was no clear work time and free time, which everyone found stressful. It wasn’t like we were given a list of assignments each morning and could just work on them on our own—that would have been fine.
There were times when we had a clear assignment. But in between, when I had assumed I was free to do as I wish, I would get the vibe like the owner thought I was being lazy. There was some passive-aggressive weirdness I didn’t understand, and at times, I almost felt like an imposition. No good.
Even More Confusion: What Exactly Are the Rules, Again?
There were other confusing issues as well. At one point, when my host was in a good mood, she welcomed me to use the shower at the main house. Seems reasonable, right? I would have understood if she didn’t want us doing that, but I’m a clean person, and if someone tells me I can take a hot shower, I’m going to. The only other option was bathing in the pond.
Everything went fine for a couple of days, but then my host suddenly seemed annoyed that I was showering at the house. She said I was doing it “too often,” but she wouldn’t tell me how often was acceptable. I am happy to follow any rules, but when the rules aren’t made clear, it’s pretty much impossible to stick to them. Especially when you get told different things at different times.
There were similar issues with the food situation. I’ll explain that part using an excerpt from a private journal post from that time. If you ignore all the horrific grammar and rambling speech, I think it sums it up nicely:
“at first it was like.. so confusing about wtf we could and couldn’t eat.. and I’d be hungry a lot and not know wtf to do and there were no clear answers.. I think I wrote about it before.. but for example I took some eggs and she was like “You ate THREE eggs?” and clearly it was like I took too much. And then I took an apple and it was like this big huge deal about how they couldnt afford for us to be eating apples.. I don’t know.”
It wasn’t like we were starved or anything. There was usually food, but it was never clear what we could have. Once in a while, they made food special for us, it was never enough to sustain me. I’m 110 pounds and have the world’s fastest metabolism. I need to eat a LOT more than some people, otherwise I get sickly, depressed, and start having blood sugar issues. I appreciated the food I was given, including a whole organic chicken that my host bought just for me. But overall, the way the situation was set up just wasn’t working for me, and when I coupled that with my desire to be back in Asheville, I decided I’d had enough.
I confessed my feelings of discomfort to my fellow woofers, and they were kind and understanding. It turned out that everyone felt like I did about the unclear boundaries and confusion over food. They told me that many other woofers had come and gone quickly for similar reasons. Two girls had apparently even made up a story about how they needed to go to town to get tampons just so they could make an exit without it being awkward.
Longing for Asheville, NC: Heading Off to Start a New Life
I’m socially awkward. So when it came to leaving my WWOOF homestead, I had two choices: make a run for it or say goodbye. There was a road out by the barn that provided another way off the property, so I could have packed my car and gone without notifying anyone. Instead, I decided to do the right thing and let my host know that I didn’t feel like the situation was right for me. I’m glad I did, because she gave me a hug and was very understanding. It’s always nice to end things on a positive note.
Overall, I am very appreciative of the generosity of my WWOOF host. It wasn’t what I had daydreamed it could be, but it was a special experience I’ll never forget.