the internet password is cowspoop

Monday, January 20th
The Chastain Farms
Winterboro, AL

Kristin drove the van for the 4 or 5 hour trip to our second farm – Chastain Farm, in Alpine, AL, which was described on the WWOOF website as:

We have a 80 acre family farm near Talladega, Al. Previously a dairy farm, we are now focusing on rehabilitating this property for year round production.
We focus on a natural garden while learning new techniques and trying new crops every season. We also have lots of animals for both pleasure and consumption.
Along with everyday tending to animals and garden, we have many projects to complete including the camp house for WWOOFers, construction of Hoop Houses, new fences, new compost areas, property clean up and much more.
We have a converted barn with bedroom (for 2), shower, bathroom, and kitchen and a rustic bunk house in the woods.

As we drove, we watched the thermometer climb all the way up to 68 degrees. It was MLK Day, so we paid special attention to Birmingham as we passed through the city where King had penned his famous jailhouse letter.

We pulled into the new farm before 5:00 PM, surprised by its proximity to the four-lane highway. It was still warm, but temps are supposed to drop again this week … once more, we seem to have brought a MN chill along with us.

We met the two young other WWOOFers, the giant timid beastdog Moose, deaf & blind 17-year old dog Speck, the farmers Nathan & Rachel, Jimmy the landowner/former farmer (and Rachel’s dad), and Kimm the .. farm manager? We weren’t clear on her role yet exactly, but it was clearly a central one.

When we arrived they were working on setting the first posts for a high tunnel – the same kind of greenhouse we are hoping to get a grant to build this spring – the same grant they’d received. We joined them on the evening animal feeding rounds and met the many chickens and the horses and cows, but we haven’t meet the pigs yet.

They cooked us tacos and showed us our quarters – a small, undecorated cinderblock room crammed with two sets of bunk beds, in the back of their canning house/commercial kitchen (a converted milk processing barn).

The bathroom was something else – the shower was basically right in the main part of the bathroom, so you stand next to the toilet and sink to shower. You could even sit ON the toilet while you showered if you liked, it seemed.

This would be fine and dandy if the drain was at the lowest point – it wasn’t. The added-on bathroom had settled since being built, and now the low point was the toilet. So there was a puddle around the toilet corner of the room. And it was a dirty puddle –  since no one would set foot in tha dirty puddley floor without their shoes on, adding more dirt to the mix.

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The other WWOOFers had both bought sandals to use for the bathroom. We were amused, bemused – and slightly apprehensive.

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Kristin, skeptical, emerges from the bathroom after brushing her teeth.

The accommodations, while not at all bad, were definitely rougher than the plush conditions we had been spoiled by at Yokna Bottoms. Of course, there was electricity and gas and plumbing – all of which we don’t have back on our Farm, so our grins remained firmly in place.

We looked over their little greenhouse – tomorrow we’ll be working to add new plastic sheeting to it, and cover some missing window panes.

We slept strangely, on separate lower bunks, lulled by the rumbling and whizzing of the space heater.

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