Working at Woodcrest
Woodcrest Farm offers two types of work-stay opportunities: paid and volunteer. We generally have 3 long-term interns who have responsibility for livestock and dairy, produce and CSA's, and poultry. Interns receive a small stipend in addtion to room and board. Our volunteer opportunities are filled through WWoof-USA.org, which lists work-stay opportunities for individuals or couples interested in learning about organic farming, livestock and poultry management, and small dairy operation. Interested parties should register and create a profile on WWOOFUSA.org and contact us through that organization.
We welcome WWOOF-USA members who are interested in trading their work for room and board and the opportunity to learn sustainable farming skills on a working farm. We prefer work stays of at least two weeks, but make exceptions when applicants have farm experience and can be effective contributors immediately. Our days are fairly rigorous, but hopefully respectful of everyone's needs. We are up every day around 7:30, begin milking and morning chores around 8:00, and eat breakfast from 9:30-10 while we try to organize the day and hand out assignments. From 10-5 we work flexibly on whatever is most urgent (with a lunch break in there somewhere), and then wrap up for evening milking at 6:00. Barring emergencies, WWOOFers are officially off at 5:00, but are often still helping out with milking or other last minute jobs. We eat dinner around 7:00, clean up, and spend the evenings however everybody wishes. On weekends, we still have to do essential chores, but don't normally schedule work days. If our workers need the weekend off for local travel, we can usually arrange that.
General Farm Chores
General chores vary depending on the season and our livestock population, but most of the following are likely
Along with general farm work, we are doing our best to improve the facilities, become more efficient, do a better job marketing, and preserve heritage skills and artifacts. In 2011 we completed a big project: getting our 10KW solar array up and generating power. Recently we have completed construction of our hoop house, cross-fenced our pastures for rotational ("mob" grazing), and finished an equipment storage shed. A major project this year (2014) is to create new gardens and pastures on acreage purchased last fall. This will include soil preparation, fencing, irrigation, and planting what was a woodlot only last fall; once done we will recondition our home pastures and expand our beef-cattle herd. And if we ever get caught up, we have a LOT of antique farm machinery that we need to organize, fix, become expert at using. It seems new projects crop up often. In the process of doing some of the projects, our wwoofers have learned blacksmithing, welding, electrical work, masonry, construction, and other useful skills.
We live in an old farmhouse with 3 guest bedrooms. Couples and female guests usually stay in the house. Male WWOOFers stay in our bunkhouse, which is two furnished room in our barn loft. The barn has a lavatory and kitchen; bunkhouse roomers use our 1st floor bath for showers.
Entertainment / Recreation
Most of our entertainment opportunities are self-initiated. We have only one TV which is used in the evenings. We have places for quiet listening if that is what you like. We love music. I play guitar and am learning banjo; and everybody sings. We have occasional house concerts by local musicians, and would like to have more.
NC's Triangle region has many opportunities for hiking, canoeing, biking, and exploring our state mueseums in Raleigh. We have bikes for WWOOFers to use, and camping gear if a stay in one of the local parks interests you.
Our "contract", such as it is, takes the following form: We provide room and board, laundry and internet facilities, and essential transportation as needed. Breakfast and lunch are self-service - everyone more or less fixes their own. Dinner is served family style (which might take some adjustments if you are vegetarian). The menu is largely dictated by what we raise on the farm or economically obtain from the grocery stores. Cooking the evening meal rotates around among those willing and able to cook. Everyone is expected to clean up after themselves and to cheerfully and proactively help with kitchen and common area clean-up
We have few rules, but they are non-negotiable. We do not want smoking, drug use or drug users on the farm. No theft. No violence to other guests or the animals. No sexual harrassment. We (personally) enjoy alchohol in moderation but don't tolerate alchohol abuse. We strongly encourage taking responsibility, truthfulness, hard work, following directions, and completing a job. People having a hard time with these good work habits would be counseled, and ultimately asked to leave if the behaviors persisted. Thankfully, it seems that most people wanting to WWOOF at our farm have understood these without saying. What we really hope for is that our farm becomes your home and your vocation for the time you are here and you have the fun of seeing what you do make a difference in the success of the enterprise.
We welcome couples, married or otherwise, but because our farm is quite public and enjoys constant visits from customers, friends, and family we ask that couples expecting to share a room be married.
The best way to describe our relationship with the folks that stay with us would be to imagine that you decided to join a small farming community where your life becomes very much focused on helping the community, and the farm which sustains us all, to thrive.
Aside from the work - which has been unrelenting as long as I can remember - the biggest challenge for WWOOFers can be community living. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will add that, while we have no doctrines, bylaws, or proselytizing agenda, we are "sort of" a Christian community. We enjoy prayer at meals, the adventure of being called [by God, as far as we are concerned] to work together to build this farm and love each other and our community in the process. We are Baptists, but our current and former WWOOFers have included people of other (and no) religious persuasion, and we have had no problems getting along. Our intention is to be welcoming, inclusive, and supportive to everyone, so we don't really care what religious beliefs our guests have, if any. But if living with people to whom God is quite real would be annoying, you probably would spend a lot of time annoyed. That wouldn't be fun.
Children and Dogs
Couples with children have WWOOFed and interned with us to our great joy. We are able to be flexible about work hours and accomodations to some extent, and when we have had children here, we all shared in their care and all shared in the work to be done every day as well. We would need to consider each request individually and thoughtfully.
Similarly, we have had wonderful WWOOFing dogs here as well, and they too have become members of the family for their stays. Well-behaved, thoroughly house-broken, quiet, and friendly dogs usually do fine, but dogs who chase or harry livestock, bark agressively at visitors, or bully the friendly dogs who live here would not be a good fit. There are a lot of dogs here and they all more or less run around and do their doggy things while we do ours.
Your Expectations and Goals
We also want to try to help you reach whatever goals you have as individuals and as WWOOFers. If there are aspects of farm life you want to focus on, we'll try to arrange that. Chris is an expert seamstress and teaches class in sewing, food preservation, and cheesemaking. I do all my own carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical work, welding, and am a decent blacksmith (we have a fully-equipped forge here). There's lots of stuff to learn and pretty much whatever you want to try out, we'll be supportive if we can be.