WWOOFing for RVers - Our Experience in Texas

We are parked on a private 80-acre ranch/farm in the Hill Country of Texas, roughly 2 hours west of San Antonio. We are trading labor worked on the farm for a full hookup site, laundry and some other side benefits (a bit of community, access to tools, etc).

Why Are You Doing That?

A number of different experiences, ideas and desires sort of merged together into a search of an extended farm stay. 

In no particular order:

  • A few months ago I was given a tour of a urban farm in Pittsburg, PA and it opened my eyes to the world of organic farming.
  • We’ve been wanting to eat more fresh produce and learn to cook in healthier fashions.
  • We wanted some gardening experience.
  • We had a good experience camp-hosting last winter in Mesa, AZ so were open to a similar engagement this winter.
  • My daughter expressed a desire to “learn how to ride a horse” - as opposed to just “taking horse rides”.
  • My son wanted a way to earn some money and needed (we felt) some experience doing more physical labor.
  • I wanted the chance to do some outdoor physical labor again.

Somewhere all of these merged together into the idea of finding a private farm to work on. Somewhere big enough we could park the RV long-term. Somewhere in the south where it typically stays above freezing all winter long.

How Did You Find the Farm?

It took some google-fu and asking in different discussion forums but eventually I ended up finding http://www.wwoofusa.org/.  I paid the $30 membership and then used their site to locate a number of farms.

I put together a detailed description that I would use when contacting different farms. My goal there was to answer as many questions up-front as possible.

We are not the typical “wwoofers” so needed to be able to explain ourselves. Out of 10-12 farms I contacted we came up with 3 strong contenders who could get their minds around who we are as a family, what we were looking for, and could accommodate our RV needs.

I had phone or email conversations with these 3 farms. One we just didn’t get a good vibe about working together so ruled them out. Of the remaining two one had a better situation for the boy being able to work, so that was our preference. It also happened to be further south which worked to our advantage as we timed our arrival with a cold spell that further north turned ugly with ice and snow.

What Are You Doing There?

This farm doesn’t have a long history with WWOOFing which I think is a benefit as we get to have a voice in defining the arrangement.

Suburban Sheep Shirt

Suburban Sheep Shirt If you have the same slightly sarcastic sense of humor as we do this may be the shirt for you. This design is both a commentary on suburban living and a declaration of your intent to leave it.

Styles available: t-Shirts,and hoodies.
Colors available: black, royal blue, navy blue.

We’ve:

  • Fed animals
  • Cleaned possessions and construction supplies out of horse stalls
  • Watered gardens
  • Prepped another garden for tilling
  • Organized PVC inventory
  • Helped with backhoe flat tires
  • Cleaned out an unused apartment
  • Trimmed trees

We’re still finding the right groove of tasks and hours-spent but are feeling good so far that this arrangement will work out.

In addition to chores-for-our-site Miranda has been getting some informal horse riding and care lessons and Harrison has started doing for-pay construction helping.

How Long Are You Going to be There?

We committed to a two-week trial arrangement. If at the end of that we all like each other yet our goal is to spend a good couple months here.

What’s It Like?

We’re happy with how we’re been treated - the farm owners are involved in their church and we’ve just decided to attend with them as it’s easiest.

Having the local connection has been great - we’ve been well introduced and already have a Christmas party to attend (and have even been asked about singing in the choir).

Privacy

We are parked in a remote part of the farm. There is a barn behind us but otherwise I can look out any window of the trailer and not see another structure or public road.

I can see other houses off in the distance in the hills but they must be mostly weekend or vacation homes because at night I don’t see their lights. It’s very private and quiet.

In the last week the only people down the road to our trailer have been the owner, us and the telephone guys getting our internet connection hooked up.

Wildlife

There are numerous deer, wild turkeys, jack-rabbits, and road-runners. The owner’s horses are allowed to run the property and two of them just galloped by as I write this. The neighbors have goats, chickens and donkeys that we hear.

Settling In

The first days were/are a “settling-in” time. We had to use the owner’s internet while we sorted out DSL options and got that installation scheduled. We have figured out the wash machine and hung a alot of clothesline for drying.

Groceries

Groceries are a challenge we need to overcome. We have a spare refrigerator to use but have to learn how to shop for longer periods than 4-5 days.

We took our first grocery shopping trip this weekend and with factoring in the holiday we wanted to stock up for at least 2 weeks. We drove 130 miles, were gone 7 hours, and spent $450. But the upside is that drive was the first we’d taken in a week.

Christmas

Christmas is another puzzle this year. With shopping so far away, not really *needing* anything, and with everything this engagement is giving us I wasn’t feeling like buying stuff to give just to have stuff to open on the holiday.

At this point it looks like we’ll spend some time on Christmas identifying some charities to donate to as a way of blessing others in the name of Christ.

The boy leaving for his first day of work.

The boy leaving for his first day of work.

One of the horses at the ranch

One of the horses at the ranch

View driving the Backhoe

View driving the Backhoe

Yea, I was a bit geeked.

Yea, I was a bit geeked.

A ranch auction just up the road

A ranch auction just up the road

Isn't that the prettiest little church you ever saw?

Isn't that the prettiest little church you ever saw?

Getting our laundry done

Getting our laundry done

Tree trimming on the road down to our place.

Tree trimming on the road down to our place.

Nestled into our grove of live oaks

Nestled into our grove of live oaks

Our private, quiet, one-site RV park.

Our private, quiet, one-site RV park.

How Did It End?

The farm stay worked out great. Read our recapping of the farm experience.

How About You?

Have you ever parked your RV on a private piece of property and worked in exchange for your site? How did it go?

 

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5 Comments WWOOFing for RVers - Our Experience in Texas

  1. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkDecember 19, 2013

    One thing I left out - we have done workcamping gigs twice before and this one is different in that we aren’t on someone else’s schedule. 

    Our first time camp-hosting at a private park we had a 3 on / 3 off shift of 7 set hours each day. Our second time camphosting at a public park we were given a schedule that had us working 20+ hours each week with set times each day.

    Here - so far at least - we are on our own to find the hours and fit them into our day. This works much better with our mostly schedule-free lifestyle. We do need to re-connect with the farm owners for a better list of prioritized tasks to choose from so we know we are focusing on what they want done rather than just finding tasks that we see a need for.

  2. Picture of Marci L.Marci L.December 19, 2013

    Thanks for sharing what you guys are doing. We are wanting to do something a little different but we are not sure yet what that looks like and it is nice to hear about what others are doing too.

  3. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkDecember 19, 2013

    Thanks for stopping by Marci. I think we’ve lucked into an arrangement that could work well for lots of traveling families and small farmers. Connecting the two is a bit difficult at the moment but most of the necessary pieces are there and it might just be an awareness issue.

  4. Picture of Dave PetersonDave PetersonDecember 22, 2013

    Hey, Mike! Long time, no ... Web? I remember you from Jeep-L or Jeepshots or the Offroad list or somewhere many years ago. You might remember “Gonzo Dave” from Arizona?... I’m planning my own year-long Jeep tour around the nation for 2015, although it will have a different focus than what you and your family are doing. I somehow managed to stumble across an old CJ-6 picture that led to your website that led me here. I need to catch up on what you’ve already done, but then will be staying current - I hope! Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  5. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkDecember 23, 2013

    Hey Dave -

    It’s been years but I do remember!

    Yep, my Jeeps are long gone (for now) while we explore simpler mobile lifestyle. There’s a lot here to catch up on..;)

    I’ll be curious to hear more about what you’ve got going on trip-wise.

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