Our Adventures in Woofing (and Renovations)

Summer is nearly upon us and my to-do list is intimidating. We’re in full on home renovation mode with siding ripped off our house, insulation blown in, more insulation being put on and new siding put up. This is of course all being done by my father and I while the kids run around at our feet and while Dave dives into the studio to get a leg up on some painting.
We’re really lucky this year to have signed up with Wwoof, an organization that pairs travelling volunteers with hosts who need help on their farm or in their home. In April we welcomed Charlotte and Iwan from France who were eager and energetic helpers travelling from Quebec to Vancouver. They gathered all the fallen branches and trees around our property for burning, raked the leaves we neglected last fall, watched the kids and helped us sort and tidy our garage and basement. They also cooked a couple incredible French meals and prepared a brioche for breakfast. We were sold!! We had had woofers before by means of neighbours who generously ‘shared’ them, but this spring was our first time as official hosts. We have a trailer in the back that’s the size of a small apartment so our woofers sleep there. This provides everyone with some space and privacy, and depending on the person, they are out there for the bulk of the evening or just to sleep.
In May, David and Elodie arrived. They were on a 4 month journey across the country, having woofed at two locations before arriving at our door. Woofing provides travellers with free room and board in exchange for 3-6 hours of work per day, so its quite appealing to both eager travellers and those looking to learn about farming. Woofing hosts are primarily organic farmers or farmers practicing organic growing methods. They could have a full size farm, a hobby farm, a market garden or just a large property. I first heard of Woof through my brother who was looking to gain some first hand knowledge about organic farming. He never did it in the end, but I remembered the idea and was pleased to find so many people in our valley who were tapping into this great opportunity. One of our local farmers, Ben, from Fiddlehead Nurseries, depends on woofers for his business. His permaculture farm opens to the public in late May showcasing a greenhouse stocked with edible perennials perfectly potted, labelled and ready to sell. The amount of work needed to accomplish this task in such a short period depends on helping hands or he wouldn’t have time to sleep from April to June. We on the other hand don’t depend on helping hands but it sure makes things go a lot smoother and lowers our stress significantly.
Our third and final woofer of the spring is here with us now, watching a French film on her laptop across from me in the living room. Our plan was to have her help paint our new siding while my dad and I put it up. After some effort, we realized the kids were not allowing us to all be outside working and ignoring them, so Arienne took to watching the kids instead. Its been incredible, I’ve been working outside for hours at a time without a thought as to what the kids are up to and without them pulling on my legs or asking me to play with them. Its amazing what can get done without interruption!! On top of that, the dishes are always done, the floor is always swept and the other day I found my mountain of clean laundry had been folded and sorted!
The gardens are mostly planted, the property looks pretty good (considering the renovations), the kids are happy and our floors are clean. We’re definitely doing this again next spring. We would have more this summer but a good friend of ours is moving into the trailer for a few months and I thrilled! Some helping hands when needed and some fire side wine drinking is in my near future.
For those of you interested in being a woofer or a host, check out the website here! To create a host profile it costs $50 and they require identification and references. They are very reputable and offer ratings for both woofer and host alike. If you don’t have property but just want some help around the house or with your kids and have an extra bedroom, check out HelpX. They don’t have the same vetting process but are great as well and are free!
Here are some photos of our house and kids mid-renovations. Some day I’ll do a post on renovating with kids…
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