I think it important to write about when things do not work out but due to clarity and honesty it is cleared up and people can then move on freely with nothing held back.
I had accepted a request for somebody to come to stay here for a week to help out from the Woofing organisation. I was contacted back in December . We had corresponded a few times but I was not getting very much information and generally I like to know a bit about the person and what they are expecting from the experience of being on the land in a quiet place. I had a feeling this person was not really coming for the land experience but more as a stop gap. This rather defeats the point for both people, just waiting for the next thing and so just filling the time is a funny way to go through life.
I collected Nick from the bus sunday evening and we happily chatted away on our way home. I showed him round the farm before supper. This was his first experience of travelling abroad away from home. Nick is nineteen and filling in a gap year before university. We exchanged information about each other over supper easily opening up and It soon became clear through hearing his story that he had not really enjoyed his previous two woofing experiences. One reason was he was from the city and used to just hanging out watching netflix and chatting with friends when not working to earn some money. He had wanted a new life experience and so decided to travel for the year although had not really known why or what he was looking for.
From my point of view I realised I was not happy with the situation because I was not prepared to put energy into working with somebody who obviously was not happy being in the country and was using the time as a stop gap before returning to the city to get back into the buzz. It seemed unfair to take my frustration out on him.
The next day was fine and in the morning we moved a load of wood out of the forestry. We worked along fine then went into the village for some wood pieces to make a chicken house. Lunchtime came and we again chatted away about life. I suggested that he was not happy with woofing and maybe it would be good to call it a day and he continue travelling around Ireland maybe picking up bar or waiting jobs in a town. Maybe Galway as it is a university town with plenty of buzz. He seemed relieved that we had cleared everything and he was able to accept that this was not right but there were alternatives. I think sometimes we are not able to “see the wood for the trees” and get stuck due to social and upbringing pressures. I have learnt that if life is not feeling right you can leave the situation or if this is not possible then the only option is to accept the situation as positively as is possible as it will change.
The next day he caught the bus and we said our goodbyes both appreciating the experience of clearly changing a situation that had not been working in a fully positive way. It felt good to have gone through the process in an honest way both being able to freely discuss our problems. He sent an email the next day to say he was on his way to Galway and a few days later I received another email –
“thanks so much again for letting me leave a few days early, and the life lessons. I met some amazing people in Galway and even a girl thats real awesome. probably would not have met any of them if it werent for you! Thanks again ann,”
I was so pleased to hear from him. I think it is important that people who want to try woofing question why and what they want out of the experience. It is fine if you want to learn a new language or experience a new culture but it is also important to realise that woofing is working in the country, it is often quiet and muddy and it rains but you can learn a great deal from the land, it is equally a learning experience for the host and each person visiting adds their energy to the place.