We pulled up at New Vrindaban, the 1,000 acre Hari Krishna community nestled in the pretty West Virginia hills, with a mixture of excitement, intrigue and nerves. Our nerves mainly were regarding the behaviour of our children when placed within a strict culture of peace, quiet and respect… The boys current repertoire of jokes relate entirely to poo and wee, they are trained to wee outside in bushes and have the feet of baby elephants, which has lead to us aiming exclusively for ground floor accommodation. Patrick doesn’t walk at the moment, he bounces and hops (he’s a frog you see). Orla doesn’t walk anywhere either, she runs, well sort of, in her bum wiggling, feet stomping, clumsy sort of way.
The fellow who arranged our placement here is away for a few days and our nerves where therefore not quelled on arrival when we were met with blank faces. “Hold on” she said and dashed out the door to inform a colleague that “the wwoofers are here”, and it felt strange being on the other side of the fence, having let Rob know the same thing many times over the last few years on our own farm! (WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) Her colleague was none the wiser but, luckily, the lady found a slip of paper on the desk which suddenly made sense to her when we elaborated that there were five of us. Alas, we were given a key and directed to an upstairs apartment, in a block with poor sound insulation and with a lovely gentleman below us who is somewhat sensitive to noise. The kids are learning to tiptoe and whisper… Orla’s not a very quick learner though. On the plus, the kids are sleeping from 7pm to 7am which I think is pretty reasonable. On top of that, their behaviour really is improving now they are getting into the swing of things and there is lots for them to do here with a play room and outside play area, lots of local walks and masses of birds and mammals to spot and track. They have the deer track sussed!
The apartment is basic, to say the least, but as wwoofers, we expected that. And it’s free. Rob is getting involved on the farm, milking the cows and there is some tree pruning and care he can get involved in. We share meals with the community for breakfast and lunch and so far have sampled delicious Indian delights.
The wildlife is far more abundant here than further north at the moment. Presumably due to the much milder temperature – it’s positively balmy compared to where we have come from! And the lack of hunting combined with the organic management of this 1,000 acre setting means that the deer are so tame you can get right up close. We saw a massive turkey vulture fly right over and an owl fly past with a tiny shrew in it’s talons last night. Today we spotted the impressive, and slightly bizarre looking wild turkey. Much sought after in hunting areas they flourish here unharmed. I took the picture at the top of the deer and am obviously thrilled with it… feel free to compliment me on it… go on, it’s blinking great right?
So we are here for a little while, to explore the area, meet new people with interesting stories and cultures, to feel settled and rest our tight budget. We can also start planning the next section, which currently is as free as the wind.