08 June 2013

Vegetables, farts, and more vegetables

As it's now my 4th day at the new farm, I reckon it's time to give you the lowdown on what it's like.

Where am I? I'm on an organic fruit and vegetable farm in the countryside about 40km from Montpellier. The landscape is gorgeous; fields stretching as far as the eye can see, hills in the distance, and a big river at the bottom of the 'garden'.

I wish this was at the bottom of my own garden

What's the weather been like so far? THERE IS SUN! And it is hot, and I have been working on my tan. Except today which is rainy, which is probably why I've chosen to blog since there is nothing else really to do in the rain.

Are there any other WWOOFers? Yes! There are 3 other girls about my age which is great, and something I certainly missed at the other place in the Pyrenees. There's Lily and Isabeau, who are Americans, and then there's Sonia, who's Swiss. However, they're leaving tomorrow which is sad, as there won't be another WWOOFer until next Saturday so I'll be on my own for basically a week.

What's the work like? The work's pretty easy, but can get a bit tiring under the sun. So far I've planted lettuces, picked hundreds of strawberries (eating as many at the same time, one of the perks of the job - they're literally the sweetest strawberries I've ever tasted), dug up onions, twirled tomato plants around string, watered trays of plants, put soil into trays, harvested cauliflowers, harvested cabbages, harvested fennel. Not rocket science, but it gives you back ache.

I've never seen so many wild poppies before

What are the family like? Haha. This is where it gets interesting. They are arguably the weirdest family I've ever met. To begin with, they're vegetarian, not that I have anything at all against vegetarians, but I didn't know it was possible to be so passionate about vegetables. We have grated vegetables for breakfast, a pile of boiled vegetables for lunch, and reheated boiled vegetables for dinner. Each vegetable has to be cut in a certain way, otherwise you'll get a lecture as to why they taste better this way and not that way. Matthias has compared a vegetable to a human being. The only topic of conversation they ever have is vegetables. As I write this, Matthias is snacking on raw vegetables, evidently on cloud nine.

Aside from the vegetarian issue, they're still weird. I'll start with Matthias, the weirdest. 

  • He's the skinniest man in the world. There's this guy that my sister and I call 'Lanky Man', and Matthias makes Lanky Man look like a beast. 
  • He has longish hair and a fuzzy grey beard which I had to encounter when kissing him hello for the first time. 
  • He is German, so pronounces the 'e's at the end of every French word which is annoying. 
  • He is very condescending when he speaks to you, and is extremely opinionated. Take this lunchtime, for example. Isabeau mentioned that she'd been to Rome last month, but that it rained most of the time, however the monuments are still interesting in the rain. Cue Matthias giving a 20 minute rant about how the Roman era doesn't interest him at all because it was full of massacres and unforgivable human behavior. I then open my mouth to say that this is why the era is very interesting in my opinion. He therefore thinks I agree with what happened all those thousands of years ago just because I find it interesting, and continues his monologue on his disgust for the history taught in schools, and the nature of human beings. I've now learnt not to disagree with Matthias.
  • He is rediculously particular about things. There are so many rules, I'm scared to walk across the room. I've been told off for using the wrong spoon for the jam.
  • He puts chocolate soya dessert on lettuce leaves for his breakfast.

There's Patricia, who is lovely, but also leans towards the 'crazy' end of the spectrum.

  • She too is as skinny as anything, but not quite to the extent of Matthias.
  • She eats lettuce like a rabbit; ie. she picks up a leaf with 2 hands, then stuffs it into her mouth and chews.
  • She lets Matthias speak to her in a way that I would slap him in the face if my partner spoke to me like that.
  • She farts openly throughout the day, as if to break wind publicly is as normal as saying please or thank you. Matthias does the same, but his are slightly lower in pitch. Neither have an odour, thank God.

And finally there's the daughter, Alice. Alice hates the WWOOFers, so eats lunch and dinner separately, and locks herself in her room when she's not at school. The fact that there's only one room in the downstairs of the house makes this very awkwards, because it means we have to vacate the house when Alice wants to eat or watch TV.

The little yellow house

I'm sleeping in a tent at the end of a field, which we put up at 1am on the first night I got there in the pitch black. For my first camping experience, it's not bad at all, apart from the bugs.

My house for 3 weeks, at the end of a field

I've made it all sound really bad, but it actually isn't. I can choose to work when I want, I can treat it like a holiday, the weather is amazing, and the food is healthy so hopefully I'm losing weight. When the other 3 have left I'll go and explore the area a bit more, and hopefully I'll go swimming in the river too at some point.

If I can survive Matthias, I'll be fine.


  1. Hey Emma,

    Great blog! It's making me miss my own year abroad-I did Bogotá, Colombia and then Turin, Italy and absolutely loved it. I'm now casting for a new MTV documentary about sex and relationships and we're looking for young people in France who would like to take part. I'm wondering if you know anyone who you've met along the way who might be interested? Do you have an email where I could send you a bit more information about it?



    1. Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for the comment. That sounds like a really interesting documentary! I can't think of anyone personally off the top of my head, however there are many facebook groups that I'm part of with students on their year abroad. My email address is emma_d_16@hotmail.com if you want to send me more information.

  2. Find latest mobiles.??