As full-time RVers, most of us have heard the parking terms boondocking, moochdocking and lotdocking however, there’s also another called Farmdocking. Farmdocking is when Farmers (or Ranchers) permit an RVer to park on their farm in lieu of helping with chores. Payment is in the form of work.
What is ‘Docking’ anyway?
Docking is a maritime term; meaning a place where ships and boats berth or moor. The term also carries over to the land transportation. Trucks use loading docks to unload their contents. But the term docking also flourishes in the RV community of terms. In addition to the description of what farm docking is above, I’ll expound on what the others are:
Boondocking is a term for parking out in BLM (Bureau of Land Management) or other permissible land with no hookups. Typically, boondocking on BLM or U.S. Forestry land is allowed for 14 days; then you must relocate. A small fee may be charged.
Moochdocking is when an RV is parked in family or friend’s driveways or yard with either no hookups or basic water or short electric (usually a 20 amp electric cord) for an undetermined amount of time for free.
Lotdocking is when RV’s park in a parking lot (with permission) of a business or establishment for one overnight. Its custom for RVers to patronize the business in trade for permission to park. (RVers who park at Walmart may call it Wal-docking)
So, now that I’ve explained what each is, we’re happy to share why we enjoyed Farmdocking.
Our first Farmdocking experience…
Last summer (2017), we were attending the Heartland Owners Club Rally in Goshen, Indiana. A few weeks after, our next port of call was a town near Minneapolis, Minnesota area where our son’s family resides.
However, we ran into a stumbling block. RVers typically must make their campground and park reservations a year ahead of time. We missed our mark; they were booked solid for the summer and early fall. Since we had no reservations, we were stuck trying to find a place to moor Liberty. We were growing frustrated. We couldn’t moochdock where they lived (that whole HOA thing and their driveway could never accommodate our size anyway).
While at the rally, we met a lovely older couple whom we became good friends with and told us they had relatives in a nearby town of where our son’s family was. They offered to contact them to see if we could park our coach on their land. Our ears perked straight up but they said it was on farm land and there were no hookups. We were totally okay with that.
That had no bearing on our eagerness to proceed because Dan had recently completed installation of our solar panels in Indiana.
After our obligations in Indiana were met, we rolled to Minneapolis. Once we arrived, we lotdocked at Dakota Meadows Casino RV Park overflow parking lot for two overnights so we could scout out where the farm was, the entrance and exit points and where we would park our 5th wheel. Our concern was our coach weighing in at 18,000 pounds, we needed to make certain we were on solid ground.
(Note: Even lotdocking at the Casino, we had to pay $15/night for no hookups).
Dan and our son, Dana, drove out to take a look-see and meet the Mr. and Mrs. Everything was good to go. We were going to come in the next day.
Once we arrived, the elder couple welcomed us with open arms as if we were already family. They were sweet and cordial yet allowed us to have our space about 50 yards from their own home. She said that she actually enjoyed looking out her kitchen window while doing the dishes and seeing us out there in our farmdocking site.
By the second week, we noticed that they were having difficulty getting chores done because the Mrs. recently had knee surgery and the Mr. had terrible back pain. Their daughter and son-in-law had their own farm and chores to do in addition to their jobs. Being we were just sitting there enjoying the peacefulness of being rural, we stepped in to earn our keep.
Dan assumed responsibility of mowing their three acre parcel that their home was on. Every fifth or sixth day, Dan would go get the riding lawn mower, put on his earphones and away he went. I think he kind of liked it anyways because he was riding something with a motor but most off all, he enjoyed doing it mostly because he was doing something for someone else.
I started to look after their tomato garden by pulling a few weeds (no Monsanto or GMO crap!). Dan stepped in to help as it became overgrown with the weeds which was choking out the tomato plants. Some of those weeds were huge and deep rooted.
We also saw that the plants were bearing heavy fruit pulled the plants over and were bending their stems which cut off nourishment to the fruit. I asked Mr. and Mrs. if they had any old t-shirts or towels that I could rip into strips to make some ties. Unfortunately, they didn’t but Mr. looked around his workshop and found a ball of twine. I cut two foot strings and started to get right to work.
However, I found this was too much for one person to handle because the tomatoes were heavy.
Trying to hold them up while tying was quite challenging and left me frustrated. So, the next day, Dan and I, together tied all of their tomato plants up to the cages to the tune of about fifty heavily-fruited plants.
When we were finished weeding and tying up the plants, we were exhausted but in a good way. Its been awhile since we did work like that. We helped them because they needed the help, the gardens needed tending and we needed to do it because we aren’t the type to expect anything for free and always believe in helping others.
Every couple nights, their daughter and son-in-law would bring a bushel basket full of other homegrown vegetables. Oh, there were green beans galore! They also brought kohlrabi, squash, huge carrots and other healthy garden variety. There was an ample supply. I accepted what they offered and froze some for later.
We also were invited to a couple family bbq and potluck gatherings. We truly felt at home and like part of the family there.
During the days, we would watch farm tractors doing their thing in the neighboring soybean fields.
Every night, I would take photos of their old barns, her flower gardens and the beautiful sunsets off our bow. It truly was a beautiful and relaxing experience.
I would also monitor and report to them the progress of their various squash plants. I must admit here that Dan did most of the hard and heavy work. I still had to dedicate much of my day working.
Since we have cats, I found much joy in playing with Lexi, their adorable and obedient dog. She loved sitting to get her photo taken and was quite the docile guard dog.
When it was time to leave, we hugged each other and politely asked if we could return next year. They both happily obliged; asking us if we wanted to come in the spring instead to help them plant. We knew that wasn’t going to be possible because of our schedule but it was surely nice that they wanted to include us. I saw a couple tears in the Mrs. eyes and Lexi, well, she was sad to see her new friends leave but we patted her head and said, “see you next year, Farm Dog”! And well, the Mr., he just wanted us to come back because I think he kind of liked us!