<<  Myocum, 18-Jun-2013  >>

Lumberjack for 3 days

WWOOFing on Tony's and Lynn's farm. Kendo wood chopping and international politcs in middle of nowhere

I remember exactly when I heard, ehm read, the word WWOOF for the first time. It was on plane from New Zealand to Singapore in 2011, and in one of those airline magazines there was an article about WWOOFing and WWOOFers in Australia. WWOOF = Willing Workers On Organic Farms and the basic idea is that for exchange of work on organic farm for 4-5 hours a day the “willing worker” gets free accommodation and food from the host. No money is paid.
Obviously this is neither a way how to make fortune, nor it’s best value-for-time ratio on “labor market”, but I thought it might be a good experience.

When I left Slovakia, WWOOFing was one of the ideas on my mind and doing some farm work in Australia was one of my tick-boxes when I decided to come Down Under. So in Sydney I bought a book which lists all the participating farms in Australia and after my arrival to Byron Bay I wrote to couple of farms.

As meeting Irene and staying in Byron for so long turned my neat plans upside down it was clear that I would not be able to do 2-3 weeks on a farm as I originally expected, because my Australian visa would expire before I would be able to finish my trip, so I was looking for a stay of only couple of days. Also, soon after my arrival to Byron Bay I learned about Hare Krishna (ISKCON) WWOOF farm not too far away from Byron and I was sure that I want to go there, to do some farming, chanting and Krishna worship there, so my stay on a regular farm ended up limited to 3 days.

The farm, which was actually not really a farm, rather a beautiful piece of land with citrus fruit orchard and rainforest was located in Myocum, 30 minute drive from Byron. My hosts were Tony and Lynn, couple in their 60’s who owned that magical piece of land.
While I expected that the farmers will be that sort of people who isolated themselves from the outside world in search of peaceful way of life, Tony took me by surprise, because he was former teacher of foreign relations and international politics at couple of universities and so he was super informed about all that was going on in the world, he was more interested in current issues in Europe Union than me (well, to be honest, I’m not interested at all right now) and he knew (Czecho)Slovak history fairly good. I learned from his that invasion of Soviet army to Czechoslovakia in 1968 actually caused split of Communist Party of Australia, as one faction supported Czechoslovakia and other Soviets. It was interesting talking (and talked for hours, actually I did much more talking than working) with Tony about everything from Australia’s participation in Persian Gulf wars to carbon tax policy in Australia. By the way, did you know that despite Australia having largest deposit of uranium in the world doesn’t have any nuclear plant?

Now I can proudly wear my lumberjack shirt. During the 3 days at the farm I was mostly chopping wood and mowing lawn on a super fun ride-on-mower, and helping out with other farm-related works. Chopping big bad chunks of wood for hours made me feel very good, tough physical work is rewarding. Well, sometimes, not all the time :-)
I also get to my first practice of kendo during my journey: the chunks of wood were so big and strong that chopping them casual way was really tough, but luckily after some time I remembered my kendo lessons and started to chop them samurai style. Holding the gigantic 4kg wood splitting axe, instead of sword, in basic kendo attack position I would first concentrate and visualize the wood being split to pieces, then would swing mighty strike from above, with full energy from the whole body and hit the wood exactly the same moment as my right feet stumped the ground, precisely following kote attack with fumikomi. Unfortunately I couldn’t do it with kiai - typical kendo scream which expresses the energy of the attack – because I’m sure that someone would call a police being sure that I was killing someone.

Kendo lumberjack. And when I was not chopping the wood, I was doing mostly Forrest Gump’s favorite work – mowing.

The mornings on the farm were amazing. After the sunrise all the birds started singing and it was really like in middle of rainforest. Those kind of mornings that see you waking up with “this is going to be a beautiful day” feeling. Definitely not that kind of “fuck, I have to go to work” mornings I used to know before :-)

Farm work, ticked.

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak