Simmy Decker with her favorite goat, Eena who is a LaManchan doe

Simmy Decker took a semester off college to volunteer at a goat farm in Washington state.
She spent months milking goats, washing eggs, and mucking stalls in exchange for food and place to stay.
This is her story, as told to writer Elle Hardy.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Simmy Decker, 21, a health policy research assistant in Boston. The following has been edited for length and clarity. 

I was a freshman at Brandeis University in Boston in March 2020, and when the pandemic hit, we were all sent home. There was a lot of general uncertainty around what the school year in the fall would look like.

My friend and I got a Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) membership, which costs $40 for a single or $65 for two people. WWOOF aims to grow the sustainable farming movement by linking volunteers with organic farmers.

We reached out to farmers in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest. Hawaii was locked down, but Left Foot Farm, about 55 miles south of Seattle, accepted us. We stayed there from August to November 2020.

One of the main jobs was milking about 70 goats twice per day

Milking the goats

It’s a five-acre farm with around 100 goats, and about 70 of them needed milking (others were adolescents or males). There were also two alpacas, and a lot of chickens and ducks.

Around 14 volunteers were typically working on the farm. The first milking shift started at 7 a.m., with another at 5 p.m. There also were three feed shifts each day, egg washing and processing, watering the garden, and chores. On a typical day, you would do a mix of all these things. 

We got two days off weekly and free food

Me holding one of the canisters we use to transport milk from the milking room to the processing room

The farm offered cabin accommodations and ingredients for daily meals.

Generally, we worked around six hours per day, for five days weekly. We stayed in cabins around the farm, which isn’t always the case with WWOOFing. I later volunteered on a Hawaii farm that required us to camp in tents. 

All of our meals were covered, but not prepared. As a college student, it was really great to learn how to cook for myself. There was pasta and other ingredients, as well as …read more

Source:: Business Insider


I helped milk 70 goats twice a day in exchange for food and a place to stay — and it was one of the best experiences of my life

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