I don't know if I'm just a lucky person or if it's something in my optimistic and overall positive outlook, but (knock on wood!) I think the universe has been good to me, not only on this trip so far, but also in my life. Maybe I'm jinxing myself by saying this… (hopefully not!)
Case in point: I'm currently at a really cool place. But this wasn't always the case. After I left the vineyard, I was set up to stay at a home in Christchurch. It seemed all good to go, and the couple had received a good review, so I thought it would be as great as my other two places were. I won't go into too much detail because this is a public blog after all, but it just wasn't a good fit for me. The couple was really nice, but there were environmental issues that didn't work for me, and I decided after a day and a half that I didn't want to stay. So I found this place on the WWOOF website, and the woman of the house responded straight away (that's another Kiwi phrase– “straight away”) that I could come– perfect timing, she said.
The property consists of 13 acres of paddocks (grassy fields) divided into sections for different types of animals; a beautiful big house; gardens; and other nooks and crannies with little treasures in the form of statues, courtyards, little hideaways for kids and adults to enjoy. The family has lived here for a little over a decade, and it's obvious they've put a lot of work into it. There are endless projects that both woman and man of the house are working on– everything from the man of the house's little personal cottage to an earthquake-damaged spa pool room that could be converted into a study to more gardens… Intense! But they love it, for sure.
View into the gardens from the front of the house. The two brick pillars are actually their chimney which fell down from the earthquake, so they installed them here as an entryway to their garden.
A little about the animals, most of which are as pets and amusement:
- 4 llamas: Obama, Humphrey, Yoda (a miniature llama), and Cameo. Those are funny animals, and I guess they sometimes use them as pack animals– taking them on hikes so they can carry the equipment and stuff.
- 4 horses: Starbuck and Paloma are more just pets– beautiful. Jimi (named after Jimi Hendrix) is a thoroughbred which the youngest daughter will be training as a show horse. And then there's Wolfie, a little miniature horse– such a cutie.
- About 9 chickens, I think– kept for their eggs. A funny clucking bunch.
- 4 cats: India (the mother), Muffin, Prince, and Totoro (yes, named after the Hiyao Miyazaki character! He's a cute little grey cat. The rest are black with various patches of white.), each with their own personality. And much loved by the owners.
- A few cows– for milk, which they sell to the local community. I don't know their names and haven't formally met them. 🙂
So my jobs on the farm mostly consist of weeding and helping here and there with odd jobs. I feed the chickens and Jimi and Wolfie each morning. And feeding the chickens also involves collecting their eggs. That's quite interesting– I have to physically remove the hens from their roost to get the eggs that they're sitting on (not fertilized since there's no rooster). A bit close for comfort, but I haven't gotten pecked yet. I've also picked up sticks so the man of the house can mow the lawn; cleaned out their courtyard (weeding and raking leaves); and weeded and weeded and weeded!
A before and after of my weeding. This patch took me about an hour, I think. Isn't it lovely?
My daily attire (as it has been on all the farms) includes:
This family definitely doesn't have a shortage of gear, especially gumboots. These are ALL for WWOOFers! All shapes and sizes!
- gumboots– these are basically used as rainboots back in Boston, but they're essential on a farm as you're walking through dew, manure, dirt, and all sorts of terrain. My mom, before I left, asked if I should buy my own to bring because she saw them on everyone's feet when she was researching WWOOFing (to ensure that I was going to be safe!!). But every WWOOF host has WWOOFer gear, including gumboots. I will never look at rainboots the same again!
- work jumpsuit (not sure what's the exact term)– a full body suit, made of cotton, to keep your clothes clean when you're brushing up against hairy and furry animals, working with dirt and manure, pruning rose bushes… Also to keep you warm. I have yet to come across a snugly fitting suit– most are too big for me, but they're great!
- gloves– super important for whatever– weeding, picking up chickens, protecting your hands from thorns, pricklies, dirt, bugs, etc. I have yet to use the gloves that my youth back home gave me as a going away present (best ever!) because every host has gloves, so I don't have to dirty mine.
- sun hat– I brought this, and it's been great to have to keep my face shaded. Supposedly there's a big hole in the ozone over New Zealand so the UV rays are stronger, and it does feel brighter here than back in the U.S., so a hat is really important.
I'm feeling lucky that I landed here. I'm learning so much from the couple that owns the place. About farm life from the man of the house and about sustainable and spiritual life from the woman of the house. “B”, the man of the house, is teaching me about correct terminology– tools, equipment, and the like. He's adamant that I know the correct vocabulary so we can communicate more efficiently and effectively with each other. He's all about logic, efficiency, working smart. He's a hard worker and his “doing” orientation really makes this place run.
From “F”, the woman of the house, I'm learning about things to feed the soul– making bread, eating organics, the beauty of gardening and going with the flow, living for the moment, following your dreams. She's so different from her partner, and such a kind and beautiful soul. They make a fun and interesting couple.
My tiny little cottage (?) off of the house. Just a bed, desk, stereo, some books, and bureau with a few windows. I use the bathroom in the main house. It's a cute little set up.
So I don't know if I've just lucked out to land with such amazing hosts because I'm sure not all WWOOFing hosts would be the perfect fit for me, but so far it's been great. I'm eating well here, too. And learning about a different way of sustainable living. They're not off the grid like my first host was– definitely plugged into the real world and technology. It's interesting to see different lifestyles where making and growing your own food is central.
I have so many books I want to read when I get back to the U.S., and so much I want to look into– permaculture design course, biodynamics course, gardening clubs… Just have to take one step at a time.
Back to the title of this post, then– I think the other part of receiving so much from the universe is that one has to be open to receive whatever comes. Turning lemons into lemonade. Or making the best of any situation. Or seeing the good side in whatever happens. So maybe things have happened to me that may have been unpleasant, negative, even bad (?); but I've been open to whatever it is I'm supposed to learn from that situation and moved forward.
There's an alchemy here of positive attitude, optimism, luck, benevolence of the universe, and acceptance, I guess, which is important in living day to day. I'm so appreciative of all I'm receiving right now. Thanks, Universe!!