WOOFing @ Normandy-Grange, New York – Day 1


I woke up this morning to the dawn peeking in through the quaint little windows in my room.  This is my first WOOFing experience and I’m not really sure what to expect.  Without a dreary grey office looming over my morning, I was eager to get up and grab a cup of coffee from the pot that Annie, my WOOFing host, and I had scheduled to brew at seven-thirty this morning.

I took a minute to dress in my “work” clothes and smear on a little make-up.  (BB-cream for the SPF and mascara; never leave home without it) – and headed down to the kitchen for a cup of joe and something for breakfast.  I had arrived in time for dinner last night and Annie and Art made me feel welcome in their home and gave me a brief tour of where to find things in the kitchen.

I thought I was the only one up, but I spotted Melanie one of the German WOOFers in the hall. We exchanged “good mornings” and I whisked down the little stairs to the kitchen.

Although Annie says they don’t have “much of a farm” – her kitchen looks like any true farmer’s kitchen.  It is large and full of everything.  I grew up in farm country, Iowa, and have been in countless farm kitchens.  Most are just like Annie’s, they are part of the farm, part of the process.  In Annie’s kitchen, there is miscellaneous kitchen equipment scattered about, a window sill with an old Rolodex and a hard-wired phone, a big table with a bowl of fresh produce from the garden, and several other bowls and baskets around with goodies of all kinds.  Her cupboards are filled with mixed-matched dishes and silverware, just what you need for large gatherings.   Like the rest of the house there are family pictures dotted about and interesting little collections of vintage and antique remnants.  The kitchen is warm and welcoming, as is the rest of the house.

As promised the coffee stood ready in the pot.  I made myself a cup, along with a small bowl of cereal.   After eating I wandered about the house a bit, stepping outside of doors to find a place to sit and read.   I peered out the kitchen door, but no chair, so I made my way to the back door – the moment I stepped outside, a large owl swooped out from under the tree a few feet away and glided past me on his way up to the roof of the house.  I stepped forward a bit to try and catch a glimpse of him – but he was gone, hiding till tomorrow.  Still no chair in the back either.   I retreated out the kitchen door to have a seat on the steps with my coffee.   Kindle in hand, I read a few pages while I waited for the rest of the house to make their way to the kitchen for breakfast.

There were two other WOOFers at Annie’s when I arrive; Melanie and Alex from Germany.  After breakfast, the four of us; Annie, the German couple and myself made our way outside.  We quickly found work to be done.  Annie is working hard to maintain this immense property and keep it flourishing with native plants.   Our chore today was to clear the space next to the long side of the barn.  This consisted of pulling weeds, running the mower (which Alex handled), sifting rocks from the dirt pile, adding the cut weeds, grass and leaves to the compost pile and later we built a little stone wall to guide the rain water.   We even brought a couple of pieces of furniture from the attic down to Annie’s car for her to take to her daughter’s classroom the next day.  It was good to be outside – the sun was buried behind some rain clouds that sprinkled on us a couple of times, but the weather was beautiful.  I got dirty, used a few muscles I’ve not bothered to notice recently, and broke a sweat – even without the sun shining.  A good morning.

Once our work was finished and I had gotten a quick sandwich for lunch I headed out with my camera to the yard, or better described as the tremendous forest that surrounds the house.   I had intended on taking a few pictures of the trees with the light pulling through and seeing if there was anything alluring about the buildings in the distance.   I walked back far enough that I was beyond the house and standing between a few of the buildings when I noticed a small family of deer.  There was a doe with two fawns following her.   The doe clearly saw me, she looked squarely at me as I pointed my camera at her.  She didn’t run, just wiggled her little white tail and glanced back at her fawns, who were sunning themselves on a rock higher up in the forest.  The fawns had been lying on the rock, but when the mama deer glanced over one got to his feet quickly, and then just paused, awaiting instructions.   But nothing happened.  I stayed still for several minutes and then patiently stepped around the log in front of me to get a better angle.   Mama deer moved a bit, but her little ones stayed put up on the rock.  They let me get fairly close.  I was just a few feet away.  But as I stepped closer, mama began to move, so the little ones moved along with her.  But just a few steps, they stopped when I stopped.  We did this little dance for a few minutes while I tried to get a few pictures of them.   I had hoped they would all stand together for a family photo, but they were not in the mood.  I got a few individual shots and then they scampered over the rocks bouncing their little white fluffy tails.

After the excitement I meandered around and took in the sights before heading inside for a shower.

Art, Annie’s husband had made an amazing apple crumble – which I got a whiff of as I opened the door to the house.  After my shower I went down for a peek at the smell.   There they sat, two apple crumbles, with a little note. “Please don’t eat, they need to cool” – Melanie was in the kitchen too, we were both eager for the cooling process to be finished – the smell was making the waiting difficult.  I grabbed a glass of juice and returned to my room for a little laptop time – catching up on email and Facebook, reading the news, writing a little and doing a bit of travel planning.   By seven-thirty I could wait no more.   I made my way to the kitchen – warmed up a little dinner so I could have dessert!  The crumble was as delicious as its aroma had led me to believe.  I was not disappointed.  You can tell by the picture I managed…I ate it before I thought of the photo…so all you can see is the remains of a wonderful day on my plate.

NormandyGrange 01

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