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The view from my little apartment looks onto the many trees and in the distance on the right is the animal enclosure.

I started WWOOFing the other day, as I mentioned in my last post. My job is to take care of the animals, which mostly just means feeding and watering them, making sure their enclosures are clean from their poo, that sort of thing. The other main job I have is to tend the compost.

Because this farm doesn’t produce commercially, the number of animals is much smaller compared to other types of farms. But, for one person it’s a fine amount:
The evil capon. See the compost bin in the back? In the blue!
  • A few ducks
  • Mama & Papa duck

     

      Their offspring


  • A handful of quail, both full-grown and babies that were just bought.
  • A rabbit. For the kiddos? They used to breed them but stopped.
  • 8 chickens, mostly for eggs but also for meat once in awhile.
  • Chickens snacking 
  • A capon, which is for meat at Christmastime. Apparently capon meat is incredibly tender and flavorful. Not sure what a capon is? Me neither! At least, I wasn’t until this one decided to become my worst nightmare. More posts on that to follow in the near future.
  • This photo was taken before it scared the crap out of me. See how close it was for me to get this shot? TOO CLOSE. Look at those talons. And its beady little eyes. Yeesh. 
  • 2 or 3 tortoises. Not sure how many there are because I rarely see them…they’re cute little buggers, though.
  • A pig! Her name is Coco, and she’ll be around for maybe another year. Mmm, fresh prosciutto.

Coco. 
My favorite animal by far is Polly the dog. She’s awesome. She is not for eating.
Isn’t that the sweetest face? 
Polly likes her belly rubbed. She also likes to lay like this for a really long time sometimes even if nobody is petting her, so she looks like a Frankenstein doggy with her paws up. Hilarious.
My day starts around 7:30 or so, and I eat breakfast, clean up, and take leftovers to the pig. She eats everything, pretty much, as pigs tend to do. She also gets a mixture of meals and orzo and such, and that all gets mushed up with some water.
Then, I go down to the bird enclosure, where all the flying guys are. They all basically eat the same thing except the quail and the rabbit; otherwise, they get a mixture of mushy meal and some corn. The chickens get let out first so they don’t eat the breakfasts of the other animals whose doors can stay open (mostly just the mama & papa ducks, who don’t get eaten and are the only ducks who have free license to roam around the farm during the day). I collect eggs, and in all these enclosures I sweep up the poo so I can add it to the compost.
For the compost, that needs care and attention. Everything in moderation, as Seneca said, and it’s true of creating compost, too. Basically, compost consists of remains of organic matter from both animals and plants, and they jive together with soil and minerals and bacteria and fungi. We put in food leftovers (never any meat, because then maggots will develop and leave you with unusable compost), animal poo, plants like leaves, stuff leftover from weeding the garden, even broken up cardboard boxes or woven cloth can go in. The trick is to mix it all up and be patient, because good compost doesn’t develop overnight and if there’s too much of one thing—especially dry plant matter—then it won’t work.
One interesting thing I learned about compost is that you can’t add human fecal waste. Why not? Because there’s too much inorganic crap in our systems. Sad, isn’t it? And yes, that even goes for people who mainly eat organic food, etc. because we’re exposed to so many other things.
My other duties include bits and  bobs that need to be done around the farm, at the discretion of my hosts. Today, for example, I started planting some broccoli (a project that will have to be finished tomorrow, as it’s been quite rainy) and gathered fennel to be dried. I get to play with the kids, and we eat meals together, as well. So far my free time has been spent writing, and soon hopefully I”ll be able to make it into Orvieto to see friends. I also need more toothpaste…
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