missed Mississippi


When we originally planned our winter journey, we did not plan on returning to any of the same farms we WWOOFed at last year – we’d enjoyed all three, but thought we’d get more from the trip if we did all-new places – meeting all new people, learning entirely new ways of farming, etc.


However, when we looked at a map of the planned route, we realized that Yokna Bottoms Farm in Oxford, Mississippi, was right in the middle of the long stretch of road between my sister’s in northern Illinois, and a farm that had agreed to host us in New Orleans.


It turned out they were accepting WWOOFers again at the time we would be coming through – so we wound up returning this year – once again, we’d kick the trip off as members of the Yokna dog pack.



So, we took turns driving south for 5 hours apiece, stopping twice for gas, watching the sun rise and fall and the vans thermometer creep steadily upward, until it was about 30 degrees  warmer than when we’d left that morning and we were pulling into the familiar gravel driveway of Farmer Doug’s house.

full moon over Yokna Bottoms Farm
full moon over Yokna Bottoms Farm

We arrived just days after the season’s last farmer’s market, and the final CSA boxes had been delivered. IMG_4630

We were here two months earlier in the year than we had been last time through, so there was still a lot of cold-hardy produce growing in the fields – herbs, kale, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, collards, brussel sprouts, and more,  in amounts well beyond what we grow back home in our acre or so of cultivated field.

the beds we weeded of bermuda grass rhizomes last year did great this year, and are still bowing up with herbs like cliantro
the beds we weeded of bermuda grass rhizomes last year did great this year, and are still bowing up with herbs like cliantro

Although the markets and CSA were finished, the farm was selling produce to several local restaurants, which we harvested with Farm Manager Jeff whenever necessary.


When not harvesting, we worked on other projects – which wound up giving us deja vu.


The farm was running a couple months ahead of schedule this year, so our labor was often the exact same tasks we’d worked on back in January – cutting down and piling up pine trees in the future field, cleaning out and organizing the tool shed, pruning the elderberry bushes, and potting up plants in the greenhouse.

cleaning the shed redux - again with intense mouse allergy trigger action!
cleaning the shed redux – again with intense mouse allergy trigger action!




We also helped prepare the house for a party again – this time, including the decoration of a Christmas tree in our duties.


Finally, we raised a sunken corner of the chicken coop, and patched up gaps that could let predators in.

IMG_4687 IMG_4689 IMG_4686
Widget did the Rat Terrier Thing and caught mice and rats as they scattered out of the shed while we cleaned.
In our downtime, we even got Farmer Doug out on a longboard again! He still doesn’t feel safe on one, but he pushed around carefully a bit until Kristin and I got our fill of zooming around a parking lot, turning gyrations into momentum and basking in the sunshine.
In one of the final Yokna posts from last winter, I said that ” it seems impossible that I may not see (Yokna Bottoms Farm) again” – and it turned out I was right  It is great to be back – we’d missed the dogs (Merton, Shivas, Missy, WhatDog), the cats (Faith, Hoobilly, Jack), and the people (Doug, Jeff, Betsey), and it felt like home immediately.
It’s been both educational and interesting to see the restaurant sales side of Yokna’s operations – we just started to do so for the first time last year, on a small scale, and both feel we have much to learn. And like learning a language, it’s ideal to learn by immersion, where all the many complexities and how they interrelated are experienecd directly, not translated up and down through lossy words. Working with people, you pick up so much more than you even realize – not just facts, but processes, ways of thinking about and seeing and solving things,  general principles, handy shortcuts, things to avoid, sparks that trigger new ideas … not things you can plan for, organize, or predict – things you get by embracing the “que sera, sera” and simply being open and grateful for what does come into life, surfing from day to day, season to season, always more in the Now than in thoughts of any future plan. Valuable things that come in abundance with WWOOFing!



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