A Pleasant Reminder and an Introduction to Migrant Farm Work

“A lake house hobby home farm, that’s all we need. And a mountain.”  – Caitlin, Nora, and I, and Denise, with the memories of Ethan and TJ and I think even Sarah which probably means Nick too, in their own way, and definitely Anna…all of us here under the roof of the big brown share that dream, that’s where we all hope to wind up, my friends and I.  I think we’re well on our way, we just need to find our spot, and we will.  I don’t even really mind if we have winters, I find they are a nice excuse to travel once a year and live somewhere else for a little while, because I also want to be able to do that, live all over the world for little bits of a time.  I think I’m well on my way.

I don’t need to buy things, my family has never been that way and I never will be either.  I can share things, more incentive to form true relationships with others, and I think that’s one of the best parts of this big house full of people.  I also can learn to live without things, that part is easy when you don’t have a car, or lots of things for that matter, trust me, you can live without a lot of things and I think getting around in other ways is healthier in every way.

I work to be able to see the world, that’s where anything extra goes, and when I have enough I go off to do something I’ve always dreamed of doing. It usually takes about two years to save up, maybe a year though, with migrant farm work it’s just a flight and transportation.  Or it’s important to visit people you know, or couch surf, hostels cost too much these days. I sold my car which was great and I figured out the life of doing things.

More and more people are hearing of WOOFing, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, I used something similar called Work Away, I found it was better because WOOFing required a paid membership to each individual country in which you might want to work and stay, Work Away was one membership to the entire world, including most farms that solicit to WOOF, Work Away, Help Exchange, all the websites that allow migrant workers to find a place for themselves and what they have to offer.  Every farm has a different agreement, not all of them are even farms, some are hostels or yoga studios or family’s in need of a carpenter, but for a few hours of manual labor every day, or maybe not even every day and you can learn from a natural experience and live with people all over the world like a little family for a little bit….

I met Anna from the farms, she was my sister in the Netherlands, her family was the farmers with whom I stayed for my final five weeks on the farms. She’s here.

I love having Anna in the house.  Anna is 20 years old and traveling the world on her own. Anna grew up on the farm I lived on in the Netherlands earlier this year and when the entire family went off to a music festival before I left Anna held down the fort at the entire farm when there were about two dozen eggs about to hatch into little chicks and about a dozen baby goats that were just getting off the bottle and there was an entire garden on the brink of harvest explosion needing tending and all the while she was finishing up her final days of fashion school and getting herself ready to travel the world and learn from life for a little bit as I feel the need to do time and time again.  Anna is a rock star.  It’s amazing what having a guest in the house does for energy, I want to make sure she eats good food so we are cooking again all meals of the day, something we were starting to slack on.  We’re redoing the Chakra yoga series, regaining a regular practice, and fun activities of good clean family fun like bike rides to the park and live music in town are suddenly a real venture as I want to make sure that her week here is as enriched with experiences as possible before she travels on.  Of course, we must maintain some normalcy, we work and have class, but that’s only a little part of the day that any normal person might want to spend with themselves anyway.  She has been keeping up with her journal which I know can be hard as a traveler, or anyone really, but so necessary so I’m glad to give her that time.  Then the rest of the day is geared to be a meaningful experience for Anna, something that I wish I did all the time to it’s fullest potential but lack the motivation to do for myself like I do when I am taking care of someone else.   We made a big pot of bean and beef stew, everything from scratch including the dried beans from my mom’s best friend’s garden which I’d never done before.  We’re eating a lot of vegetables and making home made bread and she has reminded us how good roasted peanuts and Chips Ahoy are.  And it is this reason, one of many, that I love people.  It is this reason, one of many, that we have other people.  .  The energy of others is undeniably invigorating.

A busy house means incessant chaos, it was the same way when I was staying on her little farm.  I feel like I spend so much time doing dishes and laundry and putting away clothes and putting away dishes and it’s just the trade off of activity and I’d say it’s pretty worth it.  My great friend Jake Metz whose project Urbana Basement is very wroth checking out as it features the best recordings of Champaign-Urbana’s music scene, well he recently sent me an article  and the lines that meant the most to me I will share here:

“Many people label me an anti-capitalist. Whilst I do believe capitalism is fundamentally flawed, requiring infinite growth on a finite planet, I am not anti anything. I am pro-nature, pro-community and pro-happiness. And that’s the thing I don’t get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase. More money it seems, does not equate to more happiness.

Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I’ve more friends in my community than ever, I haven’t been ill since I began, and I’ve never been fitter. I’ve found that friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is spiritual. And that independence is really interdependence.” –The man who lives without money

My student loans are now the money suck of my life, I share my house with four other people to keep the bills low, we turn off the lights to save energy, we don’t flush the toilet every time to save water, we compost and recycle everything for free so we don’t have to have a trash bill. I am the happiest I could ever imagine myself to be despite the paycheck to paycheck, I feel very healthy with less, I’m so thankful for all the little things and I have enough on my hands with the Dutch guests and all the plants we had to drag inside and kitty cats that are in from the cold that make this rainbow house most colorful and warm.  Friends of the world, unite!

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