Monday, December 28, 2009


WE HAVE just said goodbye to two wwoofers, willing workers on organic farms, after a two week stay with us. We undertook it as a bit of a trial and it went pretty well, so I think we will do it again.

Chris, 19, and Aysha, 18, were from the UK and had very little gardening-farming experience, but they were willing to get in and have a go. I made a list of jobs so they could have some choice and also gave them the choice of having two work periods of two hours each day or one four hour work period. Due to the heat they decided to work a couple of hours in the early morning and a couple of hours in the late afternoon. We only asked they work five days out of seven, in future I would probably make this six out of seven. They worked mostly on three jobs, hand-weeding the bottom paddock, re-digging the veggie patch and scrapping the paint off our house in preparation for it being painted- the job they enjoyed the least.

If you don't have separate accommodation, then hosting wwoofers is like having a house-guest. Ours stayed in our camper-trailer but lived in the house with us. We let them have as much access to the internet as they wanted, due to the fact they were pretty isolated during their stay with us because they did not have a car. They were great with the children so it made it all pretty easy. The children really loved having them with us. What they lacked in gardening experience they certainly made up for with the amount of attention they gave the children. They were very patient with them, but were able to dish some boundaries too. I was pretty impressed with this.

I learned that hosting wwwoofers is a lot of work. I spent a lot of time cooking and keeping up the supply of food. This all became a bit less formal in the second week when they helped themselves a bit more to food and I slacked off a bit with the cooking.

In terms of the work we achieved by having them here, I am really pleased with what got done. Because they came in school holidays our plans to work alongside them didn't work out. Bill had to supervise the children and I spent most of my time in the kitchen, when I wasn't at work.

A lot of people have asked me was it worth it in terms of the cost of having them here, with the amount of work which got done. I really have not done the calculations for this, it is probably break even, but we did not do it for cheap labor. We did it because we thought it would a fun and interesting thing to do.

We have invited them to come back and wwoof with us again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


ABOUT two weeks ago I bought a new jersey cow, Buttercup. She came with a heifer calf which the children have named Midnight. I shipped out Brandy, Rosie and Charlie to a friends property. Brandy was not producing enough milk due to the mastitis she developed immediately after birthing. Left with only two teats working and producing about 1.5 litres of milk, it was hardly worth the effort.

I saw an add in the paper for Buttercup and went to check her out. She was amazingly calm, full of milk and going dirt cheap. I bought her and my friend Erin took another milker called Cupcake.

Buttercup was in very poor condition as she was fostering four calves, but amazingly she has been producing up to five lites of milk each day. It has been bliss. She is also gaining weight. It is a really good time to buy due to the drought. Lots of farmers are destocking. Erin and I are about to buy some calves for meat which we will raise up.

I have been milking Buttercup twice a day most days, which involves getting up at about 5.3o am to milk on the days I have to go to work. Still, it is incredibly satisfying and her milk is amazing, although Bill won't drink it because he knows the cow from which it came- I could understand this if he was talking about meat, but milk!
Anyway it is a lot of work, but worth it. I have to start training her to milk in the bale, as she requires a lot of food to keep her in the one spot during milking.