How I got on a farm

One of my lovely readers dropped me an e-mail because they were unsure of how I ended up on a farm. It was always sort of in my plan. You may or may not of heard of this thing called WWOOFing? It an acronym and it stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms, the idea is simple, you apply through a website and pay a fee. This fee sets you up and allows you to contact he farms that need help for one whole year. You tell them your dates for visiting the place and they will either accept you as a worker or not depending if they have space or not. The deal is that they give you a place to stay, you get fed but may have to do your own cooking and you work for them doing whatever they want you to do. You can while you are there have one day off every seven days, you work (in general, some people operate a different structure). Work for me is between 8:30 and 17:00 which leaves the rest of the evening to explore the nearby town or city. While you are on a farm of course you can learn the language, which for me being interested and having a vague understanding of Japanese is really interesting. You probably will learn a little about farming, which might make you appreciate where your food comes from and how much work goes into such things. Perhaps you can teach something in exchange? You can (if you have money for flights and travel) easily get around the world doing this. You have to be prepared to do some pretty hard work, deal with the various creatures out there and live in basic but liveable conditions but it’s an amazing experience.

The website I used is the official one, I know for sure there is one also for Australia and NZ and possibly other places too, I filled in the form, payed my fee and got myself onto this farm way back in Australia. At the moment I would say it’s as good a decision as leaving the UK for a long period in the first place. I must say that over the last few days I have had the greatest feeling of achievement. There really is nothing like seeing a job done or as close to done as you can get and if you put this in context with development you can have those days where you literally do nothing. You can spend all day in meetings or the majority of the day trying to piece together something that eventually does not do the job you need, I am sure if you have experienced this then you are well aware of how frustrating it can be to put your energy into something and it turn into nothing.

Having a routine after seven months of not having one is great, especially because that routine only actually involves tasks that I look to someone else for and I know that whatever I do during the day is going to be productive. I am having no trouble sleeping despite having a regular fight with my bed on a nightly basis as it’s just not wide enough to roll over and I am still having to deal with mosquitoes but that really is the least of my worries.

The above refers to someone who is leaving the farm. They have been here about a month and worked really hard, the owners wanted to do something nice for her. Katy is a 20 year old girl from Austria, currently studying in Vienna. She needed to work for 160 hours as part of her credits for her Degree and did so in Japan. So the owners asked our boss Oshima san to take us to a Sento, for those not in the know this is a public bath, a place where men and women bath separately in hot springs, some of which may be from natural sources, in Japan you walk around these places totally naked. Yep, in the buff, nothing but a very tiny towel that you use to create extra heat or wipe yourself down to show for it, I like to think I am happy with my body and most of the time I am I guess today i proved that I am. This is something I wanted to do when I hit Japan, okay so I wanted to do it in an outside Onsen with a view of the mountains but a public Sento is a good introduction to it. It’s summer here in Japan and today was a heady 32°C finishing the day in a sauna was not really on my mind but now I have been I feel a truckload better.

The principle is simple, before you enter the baths you wash yourselves from head to toe. Anyone not doing this is generally frowned upon and it’s one easy way to piss off the locals. When you are ready you enter into any one of the baths. If you have used your mini-towel to wash yourself then you try not to use it in the water because you may pollute the water with whatever you have rubbed off with it. In fact since Japanese people use these small towels to do exactly that they assume that this is what you have done and putting your towel in the water is again generally frowned upon. Forty minutes pass so quick in these place, especially as in the sauna they had a current Japanese baseball game showing so it is easy to sit there and sweat and watch the game unfold. From there we headed back to the farm where we were given a feast of Sushi.

You see this is how life should be, the hosts here did not need to do something so special for Katy but they did. All Katy did was dedicate herself to these people who housed her for a whole month. I hope that when I leave I make just as good an impression.

So that’s how things have been going on the farm. I have met and worked with some wonderful people both European and Japanese and I am loving it.

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