Debbie, host extraordinaire at Haute Goate, took some time to give a resumé of her time as a WWOOF Canada host. She sums up the joys of hosting well and we can’t thank her enough for sharing these words.
To find out more about Haute Goat, or to WWOOF there, visit their WWOOF Canada profile.
When we moved to the farm in 2015, I was pretty sure I could handle all of the animals and the chores on my own. After all, I’d overseen the rebuilding of the part of the barn that would house the goats, worked hard on the planning and installation of the initial fencing and thought i had everything under control. Ha! Life just doesn’t work that way. Our little goat herd grew, we got a few more horses (who then had babies), we brought home some very cute alpacas (who also had babies), I was getting a little older and suddenly ‘chores’ got a little more complicated and took a lot more time.
I’d heard about an organization called WWOOF and checked them out. They act as kind of a ‘dating’ service between farm hosts and volunteers from all over the world who are keen to learn about farming, learn about Canadians, improve their English and just explore the world. Sign me up, I thought – sounds like an amazing program. And it truly is.
They work hard on the farm and often go on the Shmurgles, Shuffles and Toodles with our groups. We believe they deepen the experience even more as visitors so appreciate meeting these adventurers from all over the world.
For the most part they are young – often on a ‘gap’ year from school. Sometimes they are older – we’ve had woofers over 60 come volunteer here. There have been some amazing stories. The young woman from Japan who hardly spoke a word of English, but was set on changing the world blew us away. Her goal was to learn how to do the ‘spiel’ – the introduction to our Shmurgle – before she left. Each night at dinner she would practice a sentence until she was able to string them altogether. On the day before she left, she indeed did the introduction to a cheering group of visitors.
One German woman contacted me in 2017 and asked if her age would be a deterrent for us. She was just over 50. Being 60+ myself at the time, how could I have a problem with that? So she came, worked harder than anyone…and then returned 3 more times. She was a high level sales executive in a German steel company and was looking for a change. On her 4th trip here she didn’t ask – but told me she was moving to the farm and would be working here. I just said ‘hooray’ and she ended up staying here for 4 years and very much becoming part of the family and having a great influence on how we grew over that time.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible Hitarth. If you’ve been to the farm you will have met him. Trained as an electrical engineer in India, he came to Canada to get his Master’s in Business at Schulich – which he did. It was during covid so finding a job wasn’t us. But he did find us and although he started as a WWOOFer, he is now employed by the farm and very much a part of the family.
Of the 400+ volunteers we’ve had here, there have only been 2-3 times we’ve had any challenges. Some work harder, some not so much, but everyone of them brings a story and leaves with many more. And everyone of them leaves something of themselves behind. Its amazing to look around the farm and remember who painted that wall, who fixed that fence, who built the play structure for the goats and so much more. I very much believe that our woofers are a big part of the warm and wonderful feeling visitors have when they come here. And they have also been so instrumental in helping to grow the farm.
Some photos from Haute Goat’s time as WWOOF hosts: