When I was looking for what I would do during this summer break, my friend who knew WWOOF and had done it before in Europe suggested I do WWOOF in the U.S. I wanted to do WWOOF with another Japanese friend of mine who also studies abroad in New York, so I looked for a farm in NY state and found this farm though I couldn’t come with her due to circumstances. People who did WWOOF at St. Francis Farm before commented on the WWOOF’s website that this is a good place to learn about organic farming and sustainability. The pictures on the website looked also nice so that I chose this farm. When I contacted her via email, Lorraine always gave me warm and kind words, even though I suddenly had to change my schedule. On the website, the Hoyts asked to work 6-7 hours per day and 5-6 days per week. Before coming here, I thought it should be hard work. Especially, now in summer, I was sure that there was lots of work in fields. I knew what I would do, but I could not picture how my life would go on this farm.
I found a balance between work and peaceful living at St Francis Farm. Here there is farming and hard work but you do not have to sacrifice other parts of life; there is time to enjoy nature and have peace. Hence, I imagined I would be a worker here. In fact, they allowed me to be a member of the family to enjoy nature. The most enjoyable activity was milking goats. It was my first time to milk goats. In the beginning, I was surprised how warm the goat’s body and milk were. I knew dairy products were made by cows or goats, but they are always cold when consumed. While this may be obvious to dairy farmers, it was new to me. I copied how Joanna did, but I could not get a drop of milk at all. I did not know how difficult it was to trap milk in the teat and squeeze it out. I am not as good as Joanna, but now I can milk in a shorter time. I used arm-muscles the most in a day when milking, but it was a fun time to interact with goats. The other things I enjoyed were driving a tractor and using a sawmill to slice timbers. I had never done it before, and I did not imagine that I could. Even though I scared Zach because of my bad controlling, it was one of the memorable experiences. Most of the time I was weeding the garden since weeds are quickly rampant insummer. I like this job because it seems like an investigation. At a glance, weeds and the vegetable we planted look similar, and roots are in a different place from where we can see the leaves. I felt great when I pulled out a whole root from the soil. During this job with Joanna, we talked a lot about politics, religion in the U.S. and Japan, or cultural difference between the two countries. It was exciting and fruitful time to discuss many topics with her. Thanks to Lorraine, I learned some recipes to cook and to make herb tea. Almost every day she makes fresh cheese from goat’s milk. It goes well with a salad. I will make hummus when coming back to Japan by her recipe. I helped her can beans we harvested to use in winter.
I enjoyed every meal with the Hoyts. When I lived with my family, I ate supper with all my family members. However, after entering into university, sometimes I had meals with my friends, but most of the time, I ate alone. Since I love sitting down at the table with people and sharing food, I was happy to have meals with them. Before having supper, we had a silent moment that we appreciate nature and food. In Japan, we say “いただきます(Itadakimasu)” / “ごちそうさま(Gochisousama)” instead of the silent moment, but, when eating by myself, I sometimes used my busy schedule as an excuse not to say these words. I again strongly felt that I must be thankful for nature because we cannot live alone. Every morning, I picked herbs from the garden to make tea. Every evening, I played the guitar and the fiddle which Zach made, and ate berries which Joanna picked wild. Each time, my mind was filled with peace. Although I am afraid that I cannot spend such time back in my school life, I will try to make room in my mind to have peace as the way of life here.