I have just returned from a great weekend woofing in the heart of Dewsbury. Woofing, nothing to do with dogs, enables volunteers to help out on farms and smallholdings around the world, in return for food and accommodation. There is a fee to register as a woofer( £20 in the UK). My son and I stayed with a lady who has an allotment and keeps bees. She graciously gave up her caravan for us to stay in and made us feel very much at home. The activities we did were quite varied and ranged from transplanting seeds to helping her check on the health of her bees. What I particularly liked about Kaye( our host) was the way she included my son in most of the activities we did; she even got him kitted out in a beekeepers suit so he could get close to her bees. But having home-educated and raised two children, by herself, I shouldn’t have been surprised.
The great thing about woofing is that it enables you to travel, meet people and learn new skills on a very limited budget. I learnt how to spot a queen in a hive (she’s generally longer), and discovered why beekeepers use smoke when tending to the hives: this is because the bees, thinking that the forest is on fire, will eat the honey and once they are full they are less likely to sting. It was a truly remarkable weekend. The only real cost was the transport. Kaye had another woofer staying with her at the time, which I felt was an added bonus, as he was very chatty and easy to get along with, and he was able to show me the ropes( having been there a for a few weeks).
All in all, it was a fantastic experience. However, there are definitely some things that need to be considered before going: first and foremost you need to establish exactly what your working hours will be. We worked from the Friday we got there until the Sunday; I had not thought about asking about the specific details. Most woof hosts( Kaye included) do state the number of hours you are expected to work during the week, but weekends appear to be a bit more vague; I should have clarified this. But in all honesty, Kaye did not require anything too arduous: a bit of riddling( sifting soil), planting, and brushing off garlic, amongst other things. Another important consideration is food: woof hosts supply your meals, and the usual agreement appears to be breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, we were occasionally hungry in between those times, and I had not gone prepared. I will next time. 🙂
I look forward to my next woof visit to Welshpool in a couple of weeks.
For more information on woofing checkout wwoof