While I’m having a lot of fun visiting the city and sitting at camp-fires and sipping beer, I continue to fulfil the purpose for which I’m here, that is working at the farm. And as my lovely host, Lorri, likes to say- there’s always work to do on a farm.
Here I’m going to talk about one thing which I spend nearly four hours doing every day- weeding. A quick run-through for anyone who doesn’t know what that is, weeding involves clearing the fields of weeds so that all the nutrition and benefits are applied only to the plant we want to grow, which in my case are the blueberries. Usually, pesticides are used to kill the weeds but since I’m on a certified organic farm, we do this task by hand. Now, the last job I did involved sitting in front of a computer for hours on end and I never thought I’d be one to enjoy doing physical labour in the fields but much to my surprise, I do. Men were hunters and gatherers and after working in a field, I have come to realise that there is still a part of us which wants to tend to crops and food. It’s just that we haven’t had to opportunity to find that love yet. But now that I have, when I put on my gloves and pick up a tool at 7:30 every morning, I’m actually quite excited to pull out all the crazyass grass and spiky thistles surrounding the blueberry bushes. It’s hard word but very fulfilling. And the muscles developed in the process are a real bonus. Much like any other job, weeding requires teamwork. If you think you’re going to be able to weed a whole row all by yourself, get ready to spend 8 hours out in the sun which is not only miserably inefficient but also downright boring. You need a strong someone to shovel up the thick, deep roots and a person skilled with the blade to get the ones which can’t and shouldn’t be shovelled out. Neither is really my forte but thanks to the great team I work with, help and learning is always around. The satisfaction of uprooting a large weed cleanly and shaking the soil off it victoriously is unmatched. No two days on the field are the same though the work might be so. Some days are filled with a lot of conversation. Lorri has put together a very diverse team of WWOOF-ers so the conversation flows from Denmark’s tax rates to Norway’s population, France’s castles, America’s holidays and England’s roast dinner with stories of laughter and heartbreak and life experiences. There’s no end to the things one can gain and share in such a setting. Other days involve more music and less talking, letting your hands work and thoughts flow. . And when you’re not particularly in the mood for humans, the lovely dogs (who aren’t exactly allowed to be in the fields) are always around to keep you company. They ask for nothing more than a good belly-rub in return. Ice cream breaks in the field are more than welcome. Being in the field also makes you a lot tougher- physically and mentally. The rough callouses on your palms are the worthy battle scars you have earned while fighting for a good harvest. And a spider in your bathroom won’t make you jump anymore because you’ve gotten so used to them crawling all over your back and neck all the time. They almost seem friendly. The fascination of finding a snakeskin, the fear of running into a live one, watching bumblebees near the blueberries- these are just some of the beauties of this field.
Weeds come in all shapes, sizes and personalities- much like everything else in life. The grass which grows right around the blueberry bush so it takes forever to cut off much like the people who’re bad for you and wrapped too close around you and take forever to get away from; the dangerously beautiful thistles which you don’t want to mess with; the pretty purple flowers which form thick bushes and attract all the bumblebees but are otherwise quite unnecessary and the occasional poison hemlock which you don’t to mistake for something else. Dealing with each of these is an art in itself, just like everything else.
Ultimately, though, it all boils down to the satisfaction of seeing the row in front of you clean and weed-free. It’s worth every scratch and spider. And blueberries are delicious. As Lorri likes to say- wouldn’t put in this much effort for broccoli! Broccoli is good but blueberries are better.
And while I might be typing this with sore arms, raw fingers and muddy fingernails, life is still good.
Until next time!