Sue and Richard, the owners of the farm, are British ex-pats who now govern over forty-five horses, eight chickens, three geese, three wolf dogs, one goat and one pregnant mutt (containing up to six puppies). This nontraditional family presides over 100 acres of vegetation.
The first task with which Sue and Richard presented us was “morning duties” with the horses. Duty is right. Of the fourteen stallions now in our care, over half do their duty all over their stalls. We’re talking wall-to-wall carpeting. One horse, whom previous wwoofers nicknamed “Shit Head,” likes to throw his water bucket around the stall such that he is ankle-deep in urine, feces and water. It’s like a kiddy pool without the chlorine. Our job is to shovel out these stalls.
After we are done mucking each stall, we emerge proudly with our prizes: wheel barrows of dung. These are to be wheeled up a plank to the peak of a pile of “manure” the size of an American house. If anything is going to resolve my clumsiness, it is balancing on an unsteady, nine-inch wide wooden plank while carting a ton of shit (literally).
Another challenge is controlling the animals themselves. The first time we were left alone, we opened a stall and were immediately trampled by a giant white steed. The wolf dogs went wild, jumping three feet off the ground and howling like Pavarotti. The goat was jumping too. “Everyone, stop talking!” Sarah yelled. I managed to lock myself in the stall where the horse should have been. Luckily, senior wwoofer Sarah Leonhardt of Germany, who is much better with animals, appeared and captured Camparo with no trouble at all.
Oddly enough, after doing this for a few days, we have grown attached to the horses. They’re beautiful and frequently friendly. Plus, when the day comes, diapers will be a breeze.