Willing Workers On Organic Farms

To the uninitiated WWOOF is a charity that links volunteers who want to learn and experience organic husbandry with host farms that need helpers. We have had some wonderful WWOOFers here and this page is designed to give those of you thinking of coming an insight on what goes on. If you've been here and are not featured it's not because we didn't like you, but probably due to me taking a poor photo!

Claudia holding chainsaw

Claudia the happy woodcutter.

Jennifer on quad bike

Jennifer wanted to take the Quad bike back to London but will have to return for another ride.

Susanna with hens

Susanna from Sweden loved the 60 free range hens so much that she wouldn't eat an egg.

Hans leaning on dyke

Hans built this retaining dyke which is nearly as long as Hadrian's Wall (built by the Romans to keep the wild Scots out of England). He is heading back to Switzerland to develop his own self-sufficiency lifestyle.

Beate with polytunnel

Beate came in January from Germany and worked on the construction of the polytunnel.

Samantha at River Findhorn

Samantha from USA enjoyed her days off, they are allowed! There are lovely places to visit including the Findhorn River, not to mention a bit of culture in Inverness or a look at the Findhorn Community.

Resi with lambs

Playing with the lambs after feeding them was a must for Resi from Austria

Amy and Will playing cards

What can I say? We get them all! Amy and Will from Oz were addicted to cards. However they managed some useful work now and again. Thanks guys!

Nicole feeding lambs

Nicole came for four weeks and stayed for ten. She saw lots of lambs born and looked after Sean the pet lamb. Nine calves were born while she was here but she missed every one! So she came back the next year.

Marie wearing basket as a hat

Marie, our wide mouthed frog, made the basket. She stayed for 6 six months and became one of the family calling Therese - Mama!


The jobs here are very varied, the animals have to be fed and seen every day, there is usually work with the vegetables and garden, weeding in the fields, property maintenance, building and woodland projects. We follow the WWOOF guidelines on six hours work a day with two days off a week and expect help with the washing up! The food is mostly organic and excellent (Dare I say different!) and accommodation is in the house with us, as part of the family.  We do not take smokers.

You can telephone Peter and Therese on 0044 (0) 1667 454 630.

or email muskus@hiddenglen.co.uk

 

Dear Wwoofers,

 

Another successful year is almost over. We have had 7 excellent helpers this year, but also more cancellations than ever before and 2 deportations. It is much more difficult for volunteers to come to the UK from outside the EU now – volunteering is considered the same as working. Anyway we had 3 from Germany, 2 from the UK and 1 each from Hong Kong and France. Thank you, and we hope that all our 128 wwoofers have found happy lives around the globe.

This has been the year of the book, The Long Bridge by Urszula Muskus for anyone who has been out of the loop. Peter has been researching, editing and adding notes. Thérèse has spent much of the year looking at the back of his head bent over the iMac. It’s out, it’s available and we are getting great responses from readers so hopefully you’ve all got a copy for Xmas. Peter has just read The Ice Road by Stefan Waydenfeld, a story about a family deported to the USSR for 2 years as opposed to Urszula’s 16. He describes a 6 week train journey, of many days with little or no food – except for only one stop, in Aktyubinsk. Here trolley loads of bread were distributed with hot sweet coffee, he called it ‘our city of bread’. This is the city where Urszula was organising relief for the Polish deportees (she says ‘we…met all trains’), work that led to her receiving 10 years hard labour for alleged espionage. Reading these stories it always seems amazing when deportees met friends and relatives in the back and beyond of the USSR, but maybe not so surprising when one learns that 1.7 million were deported from a relatively small area of eastern Poland – probably over half died or were executed.

Our holiday in Washington State in September was excellent, we were beautifully looked after by our hosts [one of our past Wwoofers] and Thérèse had several days walking up to 7000ft in the North Cascades and Rockies. Peter pottered about in a timber yard and was driven around a forest grazing – 80 cows in an area 5x20 miles! Experiencing the traditional skills of the native Americans was more difficult. We shared a meal with an elder who has recently succeeded, after 20 years of legal battles, to regain fishing rights taken away in the 1800’s. He told us about the broken promises made to the Wenatchee tribe by the US government, how they were forced on to the poorest land, and the difficulties that they are having with drink and drugs. We were the only ‘whites’ at a subsequent Pow Wow – a get together for dancing and stick games – teetotal, but some were sustained by Red Bull. For a children’s dance the drummers sang ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’, but mostly it was chanting. At the end the MC, whom we had met at the meal, beckoned us forward, introduced us and thrust a mic in front of Peter – he managed to ramble on about the similarities with Highland Games.

Peter’s sister Annie has lost the use of her legs over the last year. By autumn she was in a wheel chair unable to stand. After MS and brain tumour were ruled out the doctors were at a loss about what to do. A physio suggested Lymes disease and it tested positive. Lymes is a bacterium spread by tick bites. Annie is now on high doses of antibiotics and there is a good chance that she will walk again. Tony is a full time carer and has had to give up making mirrors. I include this to remind you how serious a tick bite can be.

Thérèse organised litter picking along the River Nairn where it flows through the town, as part of Keep Scotland Tidy. Despite posters only family, friends and 1 ex-wwoofer turned up. Council workers were amazed at the huge pile of rubbish left for them to remove – stuff that they had been tripping over for the last year or more!

A young couple from Longbeach, California, have been in the loft this year. They have fitted into life at Laikenbuie very well, and set up a meeting place known as ‘The Boxie’ in a converted horse box. It is more basic than ‘the hut’ which has been moved into the birchwood on the far side of the glen since Andy and Iona vacated it for the new house. We are struggling to be a bit more upmarket and remember to call ‘the hut’, ‘the cabin’, as we prepare it for letting for retreats. The cabin is lovely with a wood stove that heats the water, a gas cooker and fridge, PV panels for 24v electrics, double bed, shower, inside bucket toilet or outside compost loo. So if anyone wants to escape from life it is ready and waiting.

Last year we had to rent a 4WD to get through the snow to the Hogmanay ceilidh - about a quarter of the guests did not make it. We hope that it will be a little easier this year. As always we send you all our best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

 

With love from us all, Therese, Peter, Jo & Sam.

 

PS. GM update. The safety assessment of the herbicide Roundup is based ONLY on the glyphosate molecule, ignoring the cocktail of other chemicals included in the mix. In the communities around the heavily sprayed fields of Roundup resistant GM soy in Argentina, birth defects have increased fourfold over the years 2000-9, according to a local government report.

If you would like more details about WWOOF send a stamped addressed envelope to:-

WWOOF, Box No. 2675, LEWES BN7 1RB, UK