Monday, May 12, 2014

5/8/14 Day 112 WorkAway Moone

Workaway is a volunteer, home stay program that pairs up travelers with homes and businesses that need help in some way. Working five hours a day, 5 days a week is a common exchange for a place to sleep and meals across the website. There are programs all over the world with varying work, anything from au pair work to farming to ski instruction; something to suit volunteers of all skills abilities and desires. Beyond the volunteer aspect WorkAway also fosters a cultural exchange leading to a much deeper understanding of a place then the typical traveler would unearth. 
Our first Workaway host is in Moone, county Kildare of Ireland with Karl and Jenny and their five children (4 of which are only home on some weekends as they attend boarding school). The standard work week with the Matuschka's would involve working from 9:00-13:00 taking a one hour lunch break (where we would enjoy amazing soups of Jenny's creation) and then returning to work for an hour from 14:00-15:00. Conveniently we worked it out with Karl that we could instead work longer days, closer to 7.5 hours in order to schedule our work week with our two weekends together as a four day block so we could get more out of our days away from the farm, since we decided to travel all the way across the country (a three hour drive). 
During our stay on the Matuschka homestead we worked on a variety of projects while living on the 160 acres along with; 40 dairy cows, 6 chickens, 2 horses, 1 Connemara pony, 2 German shepherds, 1 dachshund, and a few hives full of thriving honey bees. Most of our hours were spent weeding dandelions, blackberries and bishops head out of the garden plots and when we finished those we worked on some driveway edging. When our sunshine luck had run out we were lucky enough to be offered a job refinishing their beautiful 20 year old dining table, made from a fallen Cedar. 
After two weeks we have had many great conversations with Jenny and Karl, learned a lot about the schooling system, country and farming practices (Karl is a second generation daily farmer hailing from. Germany). Every time I learn more about their education system I become more curious. In their last year high school students take a test known as leaving certs, which seems to be similar to our SAT system, but if catastrophe strikes and you miss the test you must repeat the entire year, no excuses, no exceptions. So bizarre as we can retake ours many times if need be. Even more incredulous the score they get can guarantee them a place in the university program they chose, based on the demand and average of the previous years scores. We have such a more well rounded system, with the important college essay that could completely sway a college applicant's acceptance. 

The Matuschka's beautiful homestead from the 1750's sitting on 160 acres of land

The Moone high cross is one of the best preserved examples in Ireland, dated back to the 7th century and just happened to be in the backyard
Adam & Eve, one of the images from the Old and New Testament  portrayed on the cross. 
Here are Lisbon (the beautiful regal version) and Yellow (the 2 year old floppy eared dopey puppy)
And then Yellow ruined our kayak trip by almost drowning

And then she chose to end our water bottle :-( This is the very first thing on our trip we have lost and will need to replace, up until now we have managed to keep everything in great condition and in our packs. 
Here is Penny, she sits with her left side up against the burning stove all day long, cozy and pampered. 

Homemade honey, yummmm
Our first project, weeding the horseshoe back into shape

The back trail path we ripped vines and blackberry bushes out of all afternoon one day
Here is the dining room table before we started sanding, and 20 years after the first varnish was ever painted on

The aftermath of a long days sanding and painting, with the beautiful black bog oak practically glimmering

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