Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Week one is over...

Well, it's been one full week that Alex and I have been out here living on Westwind Farm. It's been an interesting week to say the least. We arrived May 25th, Memorial Day, dazed, travel weary and just a little (under-exaggeration here) home sick. We had to get used to our surroundings somehow, so we cleaned our new room and the bathroom which we would be using. It was kinda gross, especially since only boys had been using it before. We cried a little because we didn't know what to do with ourselves.

The next day, we decided the only way to feel better was to get into the work. So we were given the task of sowing 12 flats of corn seeds. That's 200 seeds per flat. A little tedious, somewhat meditative if you're in the right mind set, but it had to be done. Here's what some of them looked like when we were done:

That was our major project for the day aside from getting to know the farm. We were acquainted with the resident OCD dog who likes to endlessly chase his tail, or sniff things, or kill things and roll on top of them, or so we've come to realize. He finally sat still long enough for me to snap a photo.

I'm going to try to get a good video of him endlessly chasing his tail and perhaps put it on YouTube. Our first day, he chased his tail for literally 5 minutes straight, possibly more.

We've also done various other tasks during our week. We've weeded and mulched the strawberry patch--my personal favorite. Some one stumbled upon a bird's nest among the berry patch and we quickly realized it belong to a very vocal finch which stood by and watched as we weeded around its nest.

We've also learned to harvest lettuce (which we did have experience with), asparagus, brassica tops (which are very yummy steamed, by the way!), and nettles (from the forest). We've done intensive weeding in the artichoke rows and today we've started in the jeruselem artichoke patch. A lot of the land on this farms is being built up by what the Vanderhoofs are doing--moving dirt around, growing cover crop, tilling, composting, mulching, picking rocks, etc. It's very rocky soil so some of it is hard to work in but I know that we're doing valuable work by making this rich and viable farm land. This just means there's a lot of back breaking, exhausting work involved. But there is some fun too! Yesterday I learned how to use the riding lawnmower and I mowed down ridiculously long grass in the orchard. Here's a rough before and after shot (the rumbling of the riding lawn mower and fading light made it interesting to capture these shots):

Today, I did some more mowing and more weeding and now we're pretty much taking it easy because the sun is making it no fun to be out in the fields. In another hour, I'll probably get back on the horse and maybe some Alex and Matt, one of the other interns, how to use the riding lawn mower. I think they're reluctant to learn since they'll probably be expected to do the mowing after they learn. I don't think I fully thought that situation out myself--guessing I'll me mowing a lot :)

My over all feelings and impressions are still forming and right now there's just so much to do that it's hard for me to find time to sit down and process it all. I had to force myself to sit down and blog because I would rather be taking a nap. I really like the other two interns, they're both pretty laid back guys. We're all talking about hikes and trips that we'd like to take once we get this farm whipped back into shape. There's still a lot of planting, weeding, and irrigation set up to do before we can sit back and let things grow. Harvest time will be another issue.

Alex and I went to the farmer's market this past Saturday and it was a fun experience. It's certainly smaller than the downtown St. Paul market but I found all of the stands there to be really interesting. I'll try to dedicate a post to the Farmer's Market(s) that we go to because it's a fun place to get pictures.

Ultimately, we're getting stuff done and enjoying ourselves. I'm trying to find a way to balance work on the farm, with personal growth stuff as well as group time, couple time and most importantly alone time. It's a lot to get used to but I'm learning quickly. I'm sure once I've been here for a month I'll have developed a routine. It just feels good to know that I'm making a real difference for this farm with all the work I'm doing and I'm also getting a better idea of what I do and do not want to do on my own farm one day. It's fun to share and help others with their vision but I'm really looking forward to creating my own!

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