If I lived in an ulterior universe where everyone expressed themselves with different kinds of groans instead of with words, the groan I would issue right now would sound something like: urrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhh. Urgh. This is the groan of an exhaustion so deep, it actually makes you want to skip dinner so that you can lie in bed. Not to sleep: falling asleep takes too much effort. You just want to lie there. And groan. Urrrrrggggghhhhhhhh.
I will try to avoid complaining, but I will say that today was difficult for me. This week, we (the farming apprentices) learned how to wheel hoe. The point of wheel hoeing is to disturb the weeds between rows of plants so that you don’t have to weed by hand, which is really time consuming. A wheel hoe looks like this:
Pretty benign, right? The farming apprentice pushes this contraption back and forth in a rocking motion, moving slowly forward through the rows in this way. It’ll be no problem for me once my strength builds; but this week has been rough. The first day, my muscles felt like floppy half-melted rubber after only one row. Today was much, much better… but add wheel hoeing to dehydration, and you get a very glassy-eyed farming apprentice.
Physical exhaustion definitely has the potential to remove any enjoyment from even my favorite tasks on the farm. My biggest challenge this week has been to find things to enjoy during the toughest, longest moments– like hours on the wheel hoe, or power washing empty bins while mosquitos take advantage of your full and busy hands. However, I’m working with an incredible crew– all of whom are stronger than me and more comfortable working long, arduous hours, and whose endless enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring. I have had deep relationship conversations over carrot thinning, I have debated about Radiohead while wheel hoeing, and I have traded recipes and talked about food during pretty much every task. We love food on the farm.
One of my amazing roommates made a stir fry last night with our farm fresh radishes, spinach, and sunbutter sauce, served over quinoa. Yum! And I, completely by mistake, discovered the joy of farm fresh soft-boiled eggs, cracked warm on toast and sprinkled with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Heaven.
So, back to the theme of this post: working at a farm is hard. We are understaffed, so not a moment is wasted; you will never catch one of us looking around, enjoying the beautiful landscape and breathing the scent of freshly turned dirt. Our heads are always down, tending the vegetables, plant by plant. However, it is hard GOOD. Once I feel more competent, I’ll be able to enjoy the exhaustion, and the incredible fact that I am providing food for hundreds of people by contributing to Drumlin Farm. Maybe one of the coolest things about being here is that it feels so natural… it’s already home, and I can’t think of a single thing that I’d rather be doing.
Tomorrow, planting more of the squash seedlings, I think. Seedlings, for those of you who aren’t familiar, are baby plants, grown in trays and then transplanted to gardens or fields. And much weeding tomorrow, as well.
One of my favorite things about working here: peeing. Seriously. First of all, it’s a rare break from the work. Secondly, it’s a fun game. There’s nowhere to go near the fields, so we go in the trees around the fields’ edges. But there are pathways and houses on either side of the tree lining, so no matter where you squat, your butt will be viewable by anybody looking out the window or walking on the farm path (as gaggles of little kids often do on our educational farm tours). So it’s a competition with myself: where can I go that will be right by the field we’re working in, but hidden enough from view? A little adrenaline rush mixed with a lovely five minute respite.
Ah, the little things in life. (Mom and Dad, you’re either really offended by these comments, or you’re laughing at how ridiculous I am. Anna, you’re probably not surprised at all.)
Love you all so much! Please continue to send me letters/emails/phone calls, and by all means, get your butts, speaking of butts, out here!
Hugs from your very-new-and-potentially-bad-at-this-but-gosh-darn-it-going-to-do-it-anyway farmer,