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Wwoofing at Safan Ranch, CA

USA | Monday, 12 May 2008 | Views [2287] | Comments [7]

On Monday 12th May we set our course for inland California to a small town called Fiddletown about an hour or 2 east of Sacramento. This was to be our second time WWOOFING at a place called Safan Ranch. Angela and Steve are the couple who own and run Safan Ranch where they have a large vegetable garden, 39 goats, 40 something guinea fowl and chickens, 1 peacock, 3 dogs, 1 cat, 3 ENOURMOUS pigs, 5 sheep and 1 cow...oh yeah and a 1 week old baby goat named Chocolate- so so cute! Angela also makes her own wine (1 of which won a gold ribbon last year) and beer. They have a hand in everything and seem to do really well at it all.
There were already 5 WWOOFERS at Safan Ranch (plus Steve's son and girlfriend were there for the week) so it got pretty busy but it's quite an established ranch and Angela and Steve are very organised with rosters and daily lists of tasks needing to be done. As it happens we also came at a very busy time for the ranch because the next weekend was the annual party Angela and Steve put on.
The set up of the ranch is fantastic but hard to explain. They have trailers (caravans, for us Aussies) dotted around the place which have all been painted by graffiti artists (Steve is a passionate supporter of graffiti art)- I tried to appreciate it but in the end I realized I really just prefer art with images, not just words. The WWOOFers each had a trailer and Steve did all the cooking (breakfast lunch and dinner).
A lot of interesting things happened while we were at Safan that it's hard to know where to start. Being a long way inland the weather was hot so we had a chance to stop complaining about the cold and sweat for a good solid week. We were outside, got our hands dirty, watered the garden, dug holes, shovelled dirt, cleaned out old trailers, cut wood, harvested vegies, washed them, I milked a goat, we cleaned dishes, set tables, and prepared for the party that weekend. It's a beautiful ranch and I loved being around animals again. We started work at 8am and had an hour break for lunch at 1pm. Then finished at 3pm for the day after which you could do as you pleased. The first day we just hung around but after a while we got to know the other WWOOFERS- all of whom were American and hung out with them a bit. We also did a wine tour one afternoon of the surrounding area. We went to town (only a couple hundred people) a few times to play pool as Dan, one of the WWOOFers, seemed to have a slight addiction with the game and was always keen to play.
One of the standout memories at Safan was witnessing two of their goats being killed for the party. As a meat eater I thought it only right that I watch and be ok with the killing process. Though I was shocked at how young the goats were (3-6 months) and a little upset by the distraught mother who didn't stop bleating until she could no longer hear her kid bleating back, which of course was when the throat had been cut. The skinning was quite gruesome and it just didn't seem like that much meat in the end. But after seeing the whole process I made sure I ate some, along with the pig they had killed before we arrived.
Then suddenly the week had gone and it was Saturday afternoon and the party was starting. Technically, as WWOOFers, we were there to help at the party but once it got underway we got a little distracted to say the least. One of the bands, called "The Jugs" were awesome; a group of women with homemade instruments belting out old classics. Another band was a reggae style and then there was a rockin DJ who started up later in the night. The homemade wine and beer was flowing and the ranch was packed with people (estimations were about 300 people over the course of the day). I had some interesting conversations with some of Angela and Steve's friends and acquaintances.
Sunday we were pretty hung over and missed the morning after party but we didn't mind too much. We went for a drive that afternoon and visited a gorgeous local swimming hole (with a rope swing!) which helped us both feel a little more alive. Then we said our goodbyes, swapped details with the other WWOOFers and packed up ready for another long drive the following day.

Comments

1

Hi, I was wondering if you could elaborate on the sleeping arrangements at Safan Ranch. I understand that you have to bring your own sleeping bag and that it can get a little cold at night. Was there a mattress in the trailer where you stayed? I am supposed to start wwoofing there come April 2009. Thanks.

  CURTIS DELISLE Jul 4, 2008 8:22 AM

2

Hi Curtis- sorry I have not written to you sooner. You know what it's like travelling, I always seem to forget things as we don't get online anywhere near as often as we'd like.
You posted a question on my online travel journal about the sleeping arrangements at Safan Ranch. Are you still wwoofing there in April next year?

They have a number of trailers dotted around their property, probably about 7 or 8 trailers I think. I'm not sure what the others are like, but when we got to Safan there were 7 other wwoofers already there so we basically got last pick of the trailers and it was still pretty good- depends on your standards though. You generally need to do a little cleaning before you move in- but they are definitely liveable, at least for a short time.There was a mattress and it was a double which was good for us. Downside was it was a bit of a walk from the house (5 mins maybe?) but that can also be a good thing if you like a little quiet and privacy.

There's no electricity or water in any of the cabins but all meals are in the house, 7:30am breakfast, 1pm lunch and usually 7pm dinner.

We did have to bring our own sleeping bags though we had one pillow in our trailer. It does get cold there at night so I would just make sure your sleeping bag is suitable for low temps if you're going to be there in winter, maybe an extra blanket wouldn't hurt?

There is also an awesome new solar powered outdoor shower, just installed while we were there. No hot water but it was fantastic as we were working hard outdoors in mid to high 30's celcius (I think that's about 100 faranheit?). Though I guess that won't be any good for you in winter.

There is no outhouse though which would be handy when you're so far from the house. Maybe that can be a project for you while there?
The downstairs bathroom in the house is free for wwoofer use- you can leave your toiletries in there, and use the shower/toilet as needed. Bear in mind if there's a lot of wwoofers it can be in high demand- though we didn't really have any issues with that and there were a lot of people there!

Hope this helps you a little. Feel free to email me with any particular questions you want answered and I'll see if I can help.

Cheers,
Mel.

  jomel Aug 21, 2008 1:38 PM

3

Hey! I might be WWOOFing there too, starting in about a month! It sounds like it might be really cold in the winter! Can you tell me a little more what you thought about Angela and Steve? Apparently they broke up: http://www.safanranch.com/safan/life.htm
it sounds pretty awkward lol. i also ound a blog post by a WWOOFer who was there while it was all going down:
http://blog-your-noggin.blogspot.com/2008/07/awkward-farm.html

it would also be my irst WWOOF experience, so i'm a little nervous about the awkward living situation. I'm definitely going to ask a lot of questions from both steve AND angela, and try to speak to more recent volunteers, before i go, but what were your impressions of them as people?

also, i'm vegetarian, and i'm not really comortable with being a part of meat production, to put it euphemistically (although I'm okay with it going on, on a farm i'm at, i think). is there enough to do aside from that to make it worthwhile? i'm interested in learning the same diversity of skills it would require to run my own farm someday. would i have an opportunity to learn a little bit of everything?

  ana Jan 8, 2009 5:41 AM

4

I had the worst experience of my life at Safan. Its absolutely shocking to me that anyone would say anything positive about Steve or the way he runs his farm. DO NOT waste your time

  megan Sep 19, 2013 9:23 AM

5

To be fair we were there over 5 years ago, I am sure it has changed greatly. We were also there with a great bunch of other wwoofers who really made the experience. Maybe you could elaborate further on your experience to assist other wwoofers.

Cheers,

Joe

  jomel Sep 19, 2013 9:35 AM

6

Megan, I'm so sorry you had a bad experience. I'm sure Safan has changed in the past 5 years since I left Steve and the ranch. I'd love for you to contact me privately. I'd like to know about how my Hailey was doing when you were there. And Big Boy Jay. It was my Sophie's Choice... I took Peebs with me because I knew he would have killed her .. If you see this, please email me... Angela LifeAfterSafan at gmail

Mel and Joe: Thank you so much for your time and work at the ranch... I'm sure you know I left Steve soon after the party. I miss the ranch and all the animals, my friends in the community and the life I had built. But doing well and loving life now. I'm now a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines and traveling all over!

Angela

  Angela Oct 8, 2013 1:56 PM

7

Can someone please explainn how this place is still in existence Most depressing place ever.

  Julia Aug 9, 2014 5:17 AM

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