Saturday, 1 May 2010

Beware of Devon Farmers

So on Sunday evening we arrived at Richard and Lucy’s near Tiverton and had a lovely evening of learning about what Laura used to watch on TV, eating delicious food and pointing at different Countries on the world map. And on Monday morning we took Billie a walk with Lucy then set off for our Next Farm via a short diversion past Nixie’s school. We arrived at the Next Farm (near Great Torrington) around 12 am. It was to be an interesting few days…

The Next Farm was odd. Very odd. First impressions: really dirty, dark, depressing, dilapidated, smelt of stale fags, our host was not very cheerful, our room had a hole in the floor and a rather large damp patch on the ceiling, our lunch (of semi stale bread and out of date cheese) was eaten off a table that hadn’t been cleaned for a very long time, and the dog was crazy. Oh yes – and the lady who ran the Next Farm had a husband who lived in the annex, but who never came out. Oh dear.

We were taken on a tour of the farm, and very soon the fact that it was not run at all on organic principles was established. The animals were not fed organic food, and weedkiller was used to control the weeds. This is not what our interpretation of WWOOFing is about. Our first task was to help drench and spray some lambs and also put in some ear tags. Strangely for a smallholder the owner seemed to have little idea on how to catch and control her livestock, we did this for her, penned up the lambs and even did the ear tagging – thanks to Christine from Smiling Tree Farm we knew how to do this. Odd. We were not very happy about any of this – the depressing conditions of the house or the in-organic farm practices. We had intended staying at the Next Farm for 10 days, it was very obvious that we couldn’t do that, so we told the owner we would only be staying until Friday, which in retrospect was very ambitious.

Monday evening came and we left the farm asap and started to contact other WWOOF hosts in the area to try and arrange an alternative host. Then we returned for the evening meal, which was barely edible (especially since we had seen the state of the kitchen) and the constant negative attitude of our host became even more testing. It seems that for our host everything that can go wrong did, and that every positive thing had a huge BUT to follow. One thing was for sure, we were learning an awful lot about how not to run a smallholding - something which perhaps could turn out to be a valuable lesson. After barely a day at the Next Farm it was hard to see how we could possibly last until Friday.

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Ugh! Oh no! Horrid. June was making a joke about how awful it would be if you turned up somewhere & it was really grimy...