Along the Natchez Trace

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Second Thoughts About That Volunteering.....

I've been putting off writing this blog because I either just blurt out my first thoughts...  or think and stew and  mull things over a while to get my thoughts organized.  Volunteering at the Monkey Farm has been one of those "maybe I need to think about this" times.

Bill & I walked over to the farm last week....
We had checked out the website and knew that it is a non-profit organization with several goals...  the owner would like to establish a refuge for injured animals (not just monkeys), would like to have methods to protect the monkeys from the high power lines, would like to be self-sufficient to a degree...  sustainable farming, hydroponics...  and to have the farm produce things to sell...  

That's a lot of goals!

She depends on volunteers for the work involved in realizing these goals.  Some of the volunteers live there...  they seem to be college age folks - several from other countries - who trade their labor for a place to live and to either learn new skills or teach others what they know.  They apparently pool their own money for the cost of their food.  Some volunteers are part-time residents like us....  mostly American or Canadian citizens spending a few months in the area.

At this time there are no monkeys at The Monkey Farm
They do have a couple of goats who are earning their keep by eating the brush...

There are also a couple of pigs...  
And rabbits, chickens, ducks and quite a few dogs.

And a Hyacinth McCaw
(This guy scared the crap out of me when I walked by, not knowing he was there, and he started screaming at me.  I probably taught him a few new words real fast!)

Since we weren't expected, and the owner had driven to town, we had no problem that day doing whatever the other volunteers told us to do.  As they were getting ready for open house they wanted the place looking neat and clean....  We picked up trash...
Bill...  moving an old hot water heater out of sight.

I raked leaves away from buildings and picked up a fair amount of litter...  Vicki, the owner returned, and we talked some about things that needed to be done.

Sunday was Open House, and we went back, hoping for a more detailed introduction to the place...
Oh Boy!  Used books for sale...  

Quite a few people attended...  we met a few and stood around and talked for a couple of hours.
We listened to 2 different volunteers tell us they were working on the water system...  
Apparently, the pump had quit working recently and they lost all the new plants due to lack of water.
Neither man who told us about this seemed to know that someone else was also working on the system.

A new baby goat has arrived....
Vicki told me the goat was still taking a bottle.  At 2+ months?  I asked why...   so that a volunteer will have something fun to do.

My blog today isn't intended to be negative.... The place is probably a good idea and may eventually do some good for the area.
Still, we left the Open House feeling a bit like volunteering here just wasn't a good fit for us.  We have given thousands and thousands of hours to various organizations since we've retired and think by now we can sense when something won't work for us.

I could go on about liking some structure, organization etc...  but my reasons don't really matter here.  Sometimes a person just changes their mind.

That's All For Today!


  1. Good morning. It sounds as though even though the "leader of the pack" has good intentions (mostly) there is a bit of flakeyness going on. I don't mean flake in the bad sense necessarily, just a bit disorganized. You'd probably get frustrated very quickly. It's bad enough when a paid gig is a bit of an annoyance, but when it's you free time? Time is precious.

  2. Those sort of volunteer jobs have to be a good fit for everyone! I'm thinking you instincts were good...maybe something else will turn up if it's meant to be.

    Your header picture is beautiful!

  3. A number of years ago we came across a lady on a ranch who needed help with her donkeys, horses, dogs, & birds. We & a few other RV folks tried very hard to help this lady for a couple months but in the end had to walk away. We were banging our heads against a wall in an impossible situation...............

  4. Sometimes, you just have to throw your hands up and walk away. If my gut tells me something isn't right or isn't going to work, I'm outa there!

  5. Sometimes it just happens and you have to walk away.

  6. I looked at the website. She fell in love with the farm and decided it's the perfect site for the proposed refuge/rescue center because it's within walking distance of the beach? To me, it doesn't pass the smell test. She might have some worthwhile goals, but they sound almost secondary to her desire to live in Costa Rica.

  7. When I first read about this farm and volunteering there I had a gut feeling that this was maybe not the best project to invest into. Now you kinda confirm my thoughts. Hmm...

  8. Better to make the decision now rather than be sorry later. I've had to do that twice in the last year, and I haven't regretted it.

  9. You made the right decision for sure.

  10. Looks like you made the right decision, sounds a little fishy to me too.
    Have fun there anyway.

  11. What a waste of volunteer resources! It sounds like they need someone with vision and a take-charge attitude. Of course, that's not as much fun as feeding baby goats and hanging out in the sun. I hope the animals don't suffer from neglect like the garden did.

  12. Hey, as a safe place for folks to hang out in nature in Costa Rica and maybe do some good for the place at the same time, sounds good. Kind of how I felt about the schools in Honduras. I didn't really consider them schools as I know the word, but they apparently filled a need there.

  13. If it doesn't feel right for you, it isn't. Keep looking.

  14. It's OK. We know when things are too much feel good and too little productive. Buncha nice kids, I'm sure. These adventures are for them.

  15. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. Like others have said, better to find out now rather than after you get too involved. They'll be other opportunities in the future.

  16. You're right about using volunteers in a profitable way.I find that organizations with a volunteer coordinator are much better. You could work your but off for these guys and nothing would happen.

  17. You two would be the ones to know about goats, that's for sure. A monkey house with no monkeys. I wonder if that McCaw startles people for sport. I would have jumped out of my skin and come up swinging probably.

  18. It seems like your volunteer senses are pretty well honed by now, so if it didn't seem right it probably wasn't. It did seem like you they using volunteer help to run the family operations.

  19. Yep, when there are different people working on the same projects and doing different things, there's something not right. Sounds like an exercise in futility.