Midway through our stay at Sunny Meadows we wrote to Cló , our third and final Ireland ‘farm’, to confirm our arrival dates. Unfortunately their response revealed that they forgot to pencil us in for our agreed upon time and had double booked. Due to the fact that our stay was only two weeks we were informed they would not be able to accommodate us. This was a bummer. We had spent countless hours reading through hundreds of WWOOF profiles, selecting a diverse group of hosts that appeared to have something special about them, a little extra than the norm, and Cló was the most unique of all.
Set near the coast, in the dramatic landscape of north Donegal County, Cló is an art center, hosting workshops on printmaking and other contemporary visual media. They host WWOOFers to help maintain a small garden and livestock to provide food for themselves, the artists in residence and visiting workshop students. As well as being excited about Cló, we were looking forward to biking all the way north into Donegal. Now we were in the unfortunate position of trying to find an available host at the last minute during the busiest time of year. We scrambled to contact farms and ended up posting our availability on the WWOOF Ireland message board. We received a handful of responses but most were in the south of Ireland where we had just come from and we had aspirations of continuing to bike north. One host in north County Galway, Mill House Farm, was able to take us in. We took it.
As described in Fox Weddings our ride through the Conemarra and County Mayo was fantastic.
We arrived at Mill House Farm excited as usual to get involved in farm life again. Much like Sunny Meadow, Mill House is a market vegetable farm, selling produce to local grocery stores and restaurants. They have several acres under vegetable production including several polytunnels. With only the barest of part-time help and an unsteady stream of WWOOFers, the place was in dire need of some competent help. Many crops were being completely taken over by weeds and the entire garlic harvest was starting to mold for lack of attention. We later learned that our hosts had bought the property on a whim midway through fulfilling careers in sound engineering and stage design. They became "accidental" farmers without training or much foresight and six years later were still discussing their level of commitment.
For the first time our living arrangements were completely separate from our host. We prepared all our own meals and slept in a poorly appointed caravan that was clearly infested with black mold despite efforts of surface cleaning. Our minimal food rations were provided a little at a time without any discussion. On the third night Patrick awoke with a sinus headache, horribly congested and coughing, convinced that it was the moldy caravan responsible for this sudden illness.
We had always told each other that if things were ever bad we could always leave. If the uninspired farm work, meager rations, and cramped caravan (without wifi) weren’t reason enough the sickness sealed the deal. We packed up and said good-bye. Our departure was meet with hostility.
So we are headed to Dublin to enjoy the big city for a few days and hopefully modify our return ferry to France.