All ages with the right attitude can volunteer at Winterpast Farm.  However, after many years of experience Farmer Mary suggests one child per family volunteer  at a time and moms with toddlers probably need to either come while their child is in preschool or wait a few years. Occasionally a very young child is very helpful so this does not mean everyone.

It’s best to have already come on a paid farm visit or more so that you know what the farm is like, know what animals we have (for example if you are scared of chickens they are everywhere around you at Winterpast Farm) and interact with Farmer Mary who is pretty direct and plain spoken. Then, talk to Farmer Mary (or often she talks to parents about specific children who she can sense a good relationship with and who she thinks might be a good volunteer). Often a child or preteen will start with a few hours while their grownup sits in the shade here. Then, they often move on to being dropped off. Some parents work well with their child/children and volunteer together. Farmer Mary wants everyone to understand that volunteering is NOT alot of holding bunnies, laying in hammocks or snuggling baby goats although you may have a chance to do all those things.

Some parent/child volunteers come early like at 9 on a day the farm opens at 10 and they help feed and water, put on tablecloths, freshen bedding, help set up for the days visitors. Some then stay for a while but volunteering doesn’t mean you have earned a free farm visit. Regular volunteers are often offered free or reduced rate rentals and may have chances to bring friends and drop by and even spend nights in the hammocks after helping host bonfires etc. Every case is different and every volunteer has a different experience.

Local high schoolers can earn Community Service hours. If you come with a friend please don’t expect it to just be free time with the animals and with your friend. You can pay for a farm visit and hold and feed the animals after you volunteer for a set amount of time. That is different from volunteering to help.

What IS helpful is a volunteer who checks posted open dates and texts to arrange timing of volunteering (Please text only between 8am and 10pm. Farmer Mary will not return texts made at 6am or midnight!) , who arrives on time, who after initial instruction gets right to work, who brings along some animal food so they can demonstarte feeding to farm visitors, who doesn’t mind being directed by Farmer Mary, who doesn’t spend the majority of their time on the hammocks or snacking or wanting to hold animals.

Volunteers are expected to put their personal stuff (lunch, coat, waterbottle) somewhere sensible (up high, not on a chair or picnic table a paying customer may want to use) , eat their snack or lunch when they are hungry and to put their trash in the trashcan and to take their stuff when they leave. If you bring food along and plan to feed the animals at some point, check with Farmer Mary. It will probably be toward the end of your time here.

Some recent volunteer activities: Cage cleaning, feeding, watering, setting up maternity pens, helping move pens, reorganizing the feed room, harness training new baby goats and sheep, bottle feeding babies, snuggling babies of all sorts, filling water jugs, putting new fleece in guinea pig cages, putting out treats or salt blocks in cages, helping assist farm visitors with opening the gate, helping farm visitors put their animal feed into a bucket or helping those who are buying animal food at the farm, washing out feed bowls, helping visitors with finding the bathroom, helping get rental bunnies or Guinea pigs from or to cars, brushing bunnies , brushing the donkeys, holding newly donated animals, clipping nails (after instruction and only if  interested)…..we have also had volunteers stuff hay into toilet paper tubes, bring toilet paper tubes, bring animal treats to give out, make signs for cages or other informational signs, help spread mulch, rake leaves, put out or take down tablecloths….

Farmer Mary has worked with parents of very large families to allow them to volunteer with raking pinestraw, moving firewood, picking up branches, fixing cages, general handyman type work to earn or lower the cost of a farm visit for the large family.

Regular volunteers get animals named for them and are in on newborn baby holding and all the special things going on at Winterpast. They can also occasionally take animals home for no fee.

Volunteers usually have come on a farm visit or two and already know Farmer Mary and the set up here.  Volunteers usually start with a few hours and some go on to being at the farm all day on open days. However, please note that  the farm is NOT a free babysitter for ANY age.  Genuine rapport with Farmer Mary and a willingness to mostly stay busy helping is important. Volunteering at Winterpast Farm is not for everyone.  There is plenty of time for fun too with baby animals and other favorite animals when we aren’t too busy.

TEXT Farmer Mary if interested. 919-244-1800 Please text only between 8am and 10pm. Farmer Mary will not return texts made at 6am or midnight!

Please suggest a date and time for coming (please look at the open dates and hours and suggest one of those!)

Please do not leave a FB message. Please do not call. Please do not leave a voicemail or try all the million other ways to get in touch. TEXT. Please text only between 8am and 10pm. Farmer Mary will not return texts made at 6am or midnight!That is the first test of a good volunteer-if you want to get in touch with Farmer Mary text her.

Thank you for your interest. Farmer Mary appreciates your wanting to help. Her daughter will be heading away to college Fall of 2018 so Farmer Mary will really need some help. Excellent volunteers with time may be invited to go along to help with away events at schools and birthdays. In the past a few volunteers have also earned good money being Farmer Mary’s representative at away events that Farmer Mary couldn’t attend or assisting her with large away events.