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