Right just now I have to say that we are totally WWOOFed out, wrung out, spat out and feeling a bit low.
We have recently said goodbye to our latest group of volunteers who all headed off on bicycles for Spain. They had spent ages making a wooden trailer to carry all their rucksacks etc but when the time came, due to a lack of testing (and a lack of understanding the basic laws of physics, Ben said) it could only carry the gubbins of one and the other two had to cycle with heavy rucksacks on their backs - more than 600 miles, top-heavy, dangerous and not a cycle helmet in sight. In their farewells, no thank-yous were said by any of them and indeed we haven't heard whether they made it to Spain or not. We are greatly saddened by this. To be honest, we feel it's a lack of common decency as, with one exception, they had been long-term guests here and all of our other 'long-termers' have kept in touch as they become almost part of the family.
They contributed many good things to this place and, we hope, had fun in the process. However, a trail of destruction is left in their wake, like a number of volunteers before them. There were brand new little solar lights down at the camping area but one got kicked over and smashed, no doubt one evening when too much whisky had flowed! Similarly with Ben's tamba drums, one of the skins got slashed. The list continues with a broken shower, a bedside table repeatedly burnt by nightlight candles, a smashed light holder, a burnt rug, a melted airbed.... It amazes us on a regular basis at how little respect some folk have, but perhaps more exasperating is the unwillingness to take responsibility for one's actions and own up to misdemeanors so that they can be addressed. This is something that we are trying to teach our children on a daily basis - responsibility and respect.
In retrospect however, I think we learn a lesson. To have more than 2 volunteers at the same time doesn't work here. They become cliquey and are less willing to pitch in, thinking that others will, thinking that their own personal malaise will go unnoticed in the throng of busy-ness. But it's hard for us to carry 4 or 5 extra folk at the meal table when there isn't a fair exchange of work. It makes one become grudging and that is a destructive emotion. So we're going to restrict our numbers right down, and yes maybe at times we won't get quite so much done but we think that the farm will be a happier place for all.