Monday March 16th – Spencer Farm
This morning we hooked up and left Summerdale about 9:30am. The drive up I-65 to Marion Junction, AL was uneventful and took about 4 1/2 hours. We stopped at a rest area to use the facilities in the RV. Traffic was light and the roads were good.
We pulled into the farm and were greeted by Chip Spencer. He was mowing with the tractor. We shook hands – then sanitized. He showed us the way to the spot we’d be parking at. We had a little issue clearing a 12′ 6″ phone line with the 13′ 2″ RV just before we got to the “bunkhouse”. I guided the wire over the solar panels while Tricia slowly drove under.
Spencer Farm is a host of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). This article we found while researching the farm prior to arriving tells the back history of how they came to be where they are today. We’re looking forward to getting to know them.
Tuesday, March 17th – Day 2 at the Farm
Today we learned the daily routine. We meet at the shop at 8am and feed the animals. Most are fed spent grain, the leftovers of the beer brewing process that they collect from local breweries. The farm has about 40 head of cattle, 8 goats, and many chickens, and peacocks.
There are two other WOOFers (that is what the farm volunteers are called). Augusta, has been here a couple of weeks. She is about our age, from Wisconsin, and has been WOOFing for several months at various farms. Then there is Chris. He came to stay for two weeks and has been here for two years. We’re looking forward to getting to know both of them more.
After feeding, we went with Chris and cut wood for the morning. In the afternoon we hooked up the wood splitter and the kids learned to split it with the tractor mounted wood-splitter.
We spent the evening exploring the farm and fishing on the pond next to our camper.
Wednesday, March 18th – Day 3 at the Farm
This is our third farm stay of our adventure. We use WWOOF to connect with hosts. If you are interested in learning how it works check out the WWOOF page. Basically, you provide free farm labor in return for a place to stay, some meals, farm products, and the learning opportunity.
There are about 1900 hosts. You can filter by location, type of farm, length of stay, particular products, etc. By the time we add the filters [RV PARKING] AND [FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN] we’re down to less than 300 farms. From there we look at the description and can weed out another half of those that probably wouldn’t work well with the kids.
We’ve committed to a 2 week stay and so far it looks like we’ve come to a place that will fit well with our family. This morning Tricia and Ella learned how to milk a goat.
Thursday, March 19th – Day 4 at the Farm
Today is Ella’s 11th Birthday. We’ve taken the day off of farm duties so we can help differentiate the day and hopefully make do with the situation we’ve got to work with.
I did a Walmart run to Selma, about half and hour away. They have limited operating hours from 7am-9pm so I opened them up at 7. I spent a little bit more than normal – hoping to extend the time to the next shopping trip. I tried to get a pickup time – but there we’re no slots open for the week. The store seemed normal, except for the TP, Sanitizer, Bleach, Rice, Beans, Tuna, etc. I managed to find some decent strawberries, which were this morning’s mission so that we could make Ella’s requested strawberry Shortcake.
We joined the Spencer’s for dinner. They host the WWOOFers Monday – Thursday nights. The Thursday tradition (dating back 31 years) is pasta and movie night. Laura Spencer made a wonderful lasagna with farm sausage. This coinciding with the Extra special tradition of Laura making cinnamon rolls for birthdays made for a wonderful treat. (Ella also got to pick the movie – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – 1971)
The Spencer’s two kids are home due to the Coronavirus shutting down their schools. Both, being exceptionally musically talented, played for Ella.
Friday March 20, Day 5 at the Farm
Yesterday Chris found a copperhead snake on the driveway, and figured it might make a nice hat band – and maybe breakfast. So, this morning we got a knock at the door inviting us over for fried snake. Liam and I partook, while Ella and Tricia steered toward more normal fare. Tasted like chicken.
Today we turned over the compost piles and created several more piles. Tricia and Liam ran the tractor and before long both were backing like pros.
We’re watching the state lockdowns and discussing what that might mean for us as more states enact them. Do we stay here? Do we head to MI? If there is an order to shelter in place – what place do we choose?
Saturday March 21, Day 6 at the Farm
Today I finished rebuilding the carburetor on the farm’s Polaris Ranger. I had taken it apart a couple of days ago to diagnose a flooding out issue. I was able to turn the needle seat and adjust the float fix it. Usually the WWOOFers don’t have responsibilities on the weekends – but just in case we need to leave in a hurry we don’t want to leave a trail of unfinished projects.
This evening we held our first game of Catan. We played in the bunkhouse that we are parked adjacent to. Chris won and “slept like a champion”.
Sunday March 22, Day 7 at the Farm
Laura Spencer runs a soap business called Simply Making It. She has a studio across the road from the farm that she manufactures in and displays her creations. Today, she invited us to each make a tray of soap. We got to choose our scents and mix lye with ice and olive oil and pour into the form. When the soap hardens we’ll each have 9 full size bars of soap – which will be very useful during this time of frequent handwashing!