This particularly random trip happened to launch my next few years deep into gardening/farming even though there was no initial intention of that. A friend of mine from Richmond was going to school in Ann Arbor Michigan and needed help transporting a piano on a moving truck, so I packed a bag, my bright red Cannondale and we were on our way.
Shortly after our day off expedition to Mackinac Island the French Wwoofers and I suddenly had a surprise abrupt ending to our time on the farm. Backstory: Their Wwoofing farm page actually had no references at the time of my arrival, but they emailed me back saying there were 2 other Wwoofers on site so I figured if it was that weird at least I would have some potential teammates on site. The daughter seemed relatively normal when she picked me up in her fancy cherry red Mustang so I threw caution and instinct to the wind and went anyway.
The woman who ran the farm was a bit weird as well as OCD, but overall fairly pleasant at first and somewhat generous with breakfasts and dinners. The father, son and daughter however all seemed to live slightly in fear of her, it was clear she wore the pants and must be the bread winner, which became very apparent upon our last morning there. The work was reasonable at first, nothing out of the ordinary; feeding/watering animals, milking cows, harvesting crops, weeding, mulching, etc. But gradually becoming harder and coincidentally around the same time food started becoming more and more sparse due to her being busier with a second job as a massage therapist. Suddenly we were chopping a shed full of wood, building fences with 18 inch deep concrete foundations dug out with post hole diggers and best of all Baling hay. Multiple fields of hay all day for the better part of a week or 2. To this day I thank God that the amount of sneezing while being behind that tractor and pulling and stacking hay bales out of the baler didn’t kill me. Anyways, long story short woman in charge got more and more rude to us with less and less food accompanied by harder work which started to wear on us, but we still hadn’t revolted even though that fire was beginning to stoke. The morning after a much needed Mackinac Island trip she made breakfast for us later than usual so of course we were slightly late getting to the barn. The one day we play music while getting dressed she comes in and checks on us to aggressively ask us where we are, she opens the door and hears Bob Marley and absolutely melts down. Due to my general acceptance of chaos I found it pretty entertaining and comical if I’m being honest. My french compadres however were not amused as they had never had to come up with such a drastic last minute fall back plan. This was our first actual negative verbal match with her besides a couple very minor disagreements and within 2 minutes of a back and forth we were told to pack up and get on a bus, which she conveniently knew the exact time of departure and we would still make it if we packed up in the next 30 minutes. So before we knew it and with some attempted resistance from the French Wwoofer Romain speaking his mind to the owner, and the family not speaking up for us to attempt to come to our aid, we were on a bus to East Lansing Michigan.
I created 2 more Couchsurfers on the 4 hour bus ride to East Lansing and we suddenly were all furiously working away at smoothing out the chaos that was now our lives. We tracked down what we thought was a promising lead in Detroit then lined up a car at the Lansing airport where the bus dropped us off, a nice shiny Chrysler 300 was our chariot to my French friends delight. The chaos of that day was not quite finished with us however…