Positivity (def): "Anything other than being in the office."
Wwoofing at Safan Ranch, CA
USA | Monday, 12 May 2008 | Views  | Comments 
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.
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