Thursday, June 14, 2012

Safety first!

 A few days ago, a family came to the farm to pick strawberries. It was a mother, 3 daughters (roughly my age bracket), and grandchildren. They all had a great time picking together in the fields.

 I was at the market building at lunch when they walked out, and the mother said that she was cut on a piece of wire or something in the field. She had a cut maybe 2 1/2" long on the outside of her right ankle. It wasn't a deep gash, but enough to bleed more than just a scratch. The market isn't finished yet, and there are very few supplies of any kind inside, so there was no first aid kit available. I walked to the car and grabbed the large kit that is in there year round, and was able to clean, prep, and bandage her ankle.

 The women were all very thankful, but somehow surprised that I carried a first aid kit in my car. They found it rather odd. They all thanked me, and the employees at work told me that I was hero of the day. I got a good laugh about that, but it also reminded me how ill prepared most people really are.

 Maybe it's because I have more of a prepper mindset, but carrying a first aid kit just makes sense to me. It's practical. Mine not only carries bandages and such for cuts and other accidents, but I also carry cough & cold meds, ibuprofen, aspirin, sting-kill, antibacterial soap & lotion, sunscreen, and anything else that would be useable as a totally portable medicine cabinet. While I can't say we use the kit "all the time", we are in it quite often. Lisa fell while we were fishing a few days ago, and we were able to get her cleaned and bandaged up. Because we were sitting at the lake in direct sun, we used the sunscreen from the kit. It's been a very wise thing to have.

 Not only do I have the one in the car year round, but I also carry a smaller version in my lunch box, and a small tin of bandaids in my pocket at all times. That little one has come in handy out in the fields many times already. A few times for us guys out there getting misc cuts, and once for a customer whose toddler fell and scraped his knee on a rock in the back strawberry fields. Again, they've been as practical as the large car kit.

 Everyone should have a first aid kit in their car. Everyone. Think about it, make your own and put it in the car. Even a small one in the glove compartment could save the day and make you a hero too!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

 I'm absolutely loving this job. I get up at 5am, make coffee, pack my lunch, get dressed; and sit here on the web watching the sun rise through the window. We start work at 7am, normally in the strawberry fields; but this will be the last weekend for people getting them pre-picked. After today, they will be pick-your-own only. The crop was early this year due to the unusually warm and sunny weather in May, so here it is June 9th and they're nearly finished already.

 It's interesting to me to watch the place growing as I start working there. They've operated for years with 2 farms. (one main farm and the other a large plot). Last year, another local grower sold out because his family didn't want to continue the business; and we bought one of their plots. That plot is now where a HUGE portion of the vegetables are being grown. Peppers, cabbage, corn, and tomatoes are all there. We spent the last 2 afternoons (1:00 to 6 or 7:00 planting peppers there; averaging about 100 flats per tractor X 2 crews.

 Also, at Farm 2 where the berry fields are, they built the new market store. Everything will be sold there other than you-pick red and black raspberries, which are at the main farm. (Farm 1) If they get the same business there that they get for strawberries, it will be a crazy place to be! Yesterday alone, we counted 51 cars there picking their own berries, and somewhere close to the same driving in to buy some pre-picked. I NEVER thought they sold that many berries! It's crazy to me to see how busy they get. Every day I'm more amazed. I can't wait to see the new market building finished and this place in full swing.

 I have a partial list of what is grown and sold on the farm. I know there are others, but I can't remember them all:
  Strawberries; red, purple and black raspberries; blueberries, blue lake and half runner beans; bi color sweet corn; canning and Italian paste tomatoes; medium hot, banana hot, yellow sweet, green, Cubenbelle, and jalapeno peppers; canteloupe; watermelon;eggplant;onions;summer and winter squash;okra;collard greens; crowder peas,cabbage, and lima beans.

  I've been working between 8 and 11 hours a day during the week, and 8-10 on Saturdays. He needs the help, and I need the hours right now. I come home filthy and exhausted, but it's a different kind of tired than from 8 hours of wrenching pipe like I have for 16 years. This is a worn out from physical labor tired; where pipe fitting was not just physically tired, but mentally exhausted. Dealing with other trades, job schedules, general contractors, parts warehouses, etc adds a lot of stress....and now that's gone. I go home dragging my ass, but feeling good about it. Like I've accomplished something. Like I've done something important.

 Yesterday at lunch, I was sitting outside in the shade; and a man who was picking berries walked up to me and asked to shake my hand. He said thank you for the hard work and giving him and his family the opportunity to come enjoy the farm. THAT made me feel incredible. THAT is why I love doing this.

 Time to go to work. I'll get those pics up as soon as I have more time.



Sunday, June 3, 2012's re-opened!

For quite a while, I had this blog completely closed and deleted. Due to some personal issues and other things going on, my heart and head just weren't into blogging at all. Luckily I archived all of the new posts just in case I decided to return to it, and well, I have.

 For the first time in 13 years at this house, we decided to not have a garden. Both of us love gardening, but at the rate it was growing every year; it became overwhelmed and frankly; too much of a priority. Even the chickens and ducks are gone for this year. We have, of course, left the blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and grapes; but there is nothing else here this year. We decided to take the year off to relax and concentrate on us as a couple, and at enjoying ourselves.

 We've spent nearly all of our spare time fishing. We first went out the first week of April, and found a spot with awesome crappie fishing. Lisa REALLY got into it, almost more than myself. We spent every spare hour at this spot for a few weeks, putting over 200 fish in the freezer. After 2-3 weeks of heavy pressure, the crappie were done, and we went after bass and bluegill. Again, most of May was spent fishing. Weekends, nights, and weekdays after work. We fished (and still are) at every single opportunity.

Now that I mentioned work, that's a whole other story. We were working steady up until mid-March, then things started to slow down. Eventually it got to where we were only working 2-3 days a week, then one day, then nothing. Yep. Laid off again. That was the last week of March. No more work, period. He had nothing new coming up until possibly July.

 At first, I sat at home or went fishing; looking for work everywhere in the trade and any type of construction. I once again filed for unemployment, but they were dragging their feet. I went places, called, e-mailed, and nothing. I was determined to find work and was close to flipping burgers rather than collect unemployment.

 Then, a little over a week ago, I was going fishing during the day at a lake just 10 minutes northeast of here. I noticed a sign on the side of the road at a local farm market "Now hiring full time regular and part time seasonal workers". I turned around, drove in, and got to speak to the mother of the owner. She didn't have any applications, but took my name and number, saying she would have her son call me back. I left there and went fishing, thinking it would be a job that I just might actually like.

 I didn't hear anything that day, so I called the next day. I got an answering machine, and again left my name and number, expressing my interest in the job. Again, nothing. I didn't hear back. I called a second time a few days later, but the line just rang. No machine. I was disappointed and just let the idea go, and went fishing over the weekend.

 Last Monday, I decided to give it one more try and called again. I spoke to the owner, and he told me to start the next day at 7am. I was pretty excited, and Lisa was happy that I found work. I found it funny and ironic that the very same day, Ohio decided to deposit my first unemployment check. I laughed a bit, and sat out work clothes for the next morning.

 That morning, I was at the farm bright and early. I met the owner, and we went back to a field with a few other people. He asked if I had ever picked strawberries before, and I laughed. "Yea I think so. I grow my own". We picked berries till lunch, and I hoed weeds the rest of the day.  He asked if I had ever hoed before, and I laughed again. "Yea, since I was about 6 ". That night I was dead tired. I think I was in bed about two minutes before I passed out cold. I normally wake up at least once through the night, but I sure didn't that night.

  On Friday, only 2 of us came in because of rain. I had to go fix some plastic over plant rows that the wind had blown. I caught myself out there that day in a strange moment of thought. There I was, standing in a field in the rain, soaked to the bone, covered in mud to my knees....and smiling as I looked across the fields. Isn't it funny that the year I decide to not garden, I end up working on a farm with fruits and vegetables?

Tomorrow starts my second week on the farm, and I haven't loved a job this much since I was 22 years old and started working at the gun shop. I somehow feel at home with this job. This is what I do. The pay may be less than what I made as a pipefitter, but I'm done caring about that. I'll take the things I love about this job over the stress of construction anytime. My sprinkler installation license from the state has expired, and I have no intentions on retesting. I'm done. I'll keep the tools that I can use for other things, but the ones that are pipe specific will be sold or traded off. I'm here to stay.

 One of the things I love about the place is it's history. The same family has owned and operated it since 1862. The owner now is the 6th generation on it's now 230 acres. They grow and sell strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, peppers, tomatoes, peas, green beans, sweet corn, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, cabbage, and a few others that I can't remember at the moment. Vegetables are sold at their in-house market, and the berries are pick your own, or also available at the market. In the fall, they do hayrides and bonfires to the public and to groups like scouts and church groups. It's a busy place.

 More to come soon. I have some pictures of the place, but I'll wait until I get more to post them all.
I *will* be back!


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