Just two days before we left on October 28th, we were able to get the roof trusses on the cabin. It was a fast process, surprisingly, but we did have to tinker a bit to get everything square. We're not masons, thus the building was off, thus we had to employ some tricks. Nevertheless, we got it to work and here's what it looked like:
To see more photos from the entire process go here.
We've officially been here one week. Our first work week ended with planting many, many onions, and a row of cabbage, a welding lesson, more tree pruning, and hauling more water. Like any new job, the first week feels like an overabundance of information that doesn't seem to stick. Endless questions for the person in charge and hesitation with just about every decision. Nevertheless, things are becoming more and more familiar and we aren't trusted with too much responsibility yet.
While planting individual onions (with their roots soaked in compost water) can be monotonous, Polly's husband, Niana from Ghana, sang Ghanian songs. Everyone that works on the CSA gardens is very nice and they all throw out tips to us when we are doing something new. Usually it is just Polly, Ann, Josh, and I but often Niana will join and occasionally friends will come by to help as well.
Friday night, Josh and I, tiring of our forest abode, went into the big city, Floyd. About a 15 mile drive down the road is THE (as in the only) traffic light where we turned and parked and made our way to the Country Store. Yes this town has a stoplight, and an active one at that. Things would get pretty wild on the weekends without it. Friday nights attract a diverse crowd of folks to the Country Store for the weekly jamboree where people flatfoot dance to live bluegrass and eat ice cream from the front counter. One thing I've learned from watching this event is that stereotypes have to come from somewhere. You know the old country bumpkin with the grizzled face, missing teeth, and indistinguishable speech? He lives here. Another man wore a shirt displaying a field of horses galloping into the scarlet sunset. His lady donned a long dress and a well-crafted braid down her back. It was a cultural experience and everyone seemed to be loving it. We stood back this time, just surveying the scene. Perhaps next week will bring our feet to the floor.
Laundry- notice the hippie shroud left for us
Saturday a big event happened, one that still continues today. We did laundry. Very exciting I know. There were clothes from our two-week trip out here as well as from this past week. This big event was accompanied, of course, by another event- a rain storm. Hanging wet clothes on the line is not terribly effective when the air is wet too. Our cabin became militantly occupied by an army of soggy denim and cotton. Not a fierce platoon but a persistent one at least. Today it still hangs over me, literally, as I write this and the propane heater warms my skin. Dealing with this blob of wet clothes is really not so bad, it just requires patience. We have nothing to do today but be, so why not dry clothes at the same time.
It was a pancake morning and will be a soup night. We had a chocolate chip cookie evening and may have a wheat bread tomorrow. All of these glorious things and plenty of time to make them. And the wind-up radio continues to play.
Water on the Line
It rained all night and into the early morning. It was a very pleasant sound as it hit the roof of the cabin and rolled down to the gutters. One great perk to rain is the presence of water in our cabin tank. We can now brush our teeth right there in the room instead of in the kitchen. What a modern convenience! A bumpkin's ode to the rain by me and Josh:
I hear the water tappin'
Fallin' on the roof.
Oh me oh my I'm clappin'
Now I can brush my toof.
The water starts a drainin'
Into a jug, ol' big and blue
A there it'll be remainin'
Awaitin' for me and you.
When we turn that yonder handle
Of the sink in our room
We'll brush our teeth and ramble
With our teeth all shiny and new.
The rain stopped at about 8 am, around the time we went to meet Ron. We started out pruning the blueberry bushes. Turns out these weren't the apprentice bushes we had been told about. No, those are the microscopic little twig mounds a few yards down the hill. Perhaps a breakfast or two? We then seeded like mad people for Ron's greenhouse- watermelons, peanuts, collards, lettuce, sunflowers, cotton (for the hell of it), flowers, fennel, dill, peppers, wheat grass, and more I can't remember. I'm very excited for the watermelons and the peanuts. If all else fails in my life, I can at least make a delicious future in the peanut butter business. Ron's pace is much faster than Polly's, or a normal human's in general. It's good to change things up so switching between the two of them is nice. After lunch we pruned the apple trees for 3 1/2 hours and cleared some of the fallen branches from the nut orchard. Turns out the farm is even bigger than I realized. Their land extends to the south a ways and is all forest. It's really beautiful and thick. We will have to explore soon..when my legs recover from soreness. For now, enjoying the cheese and yogurt!
The CSA Barn
"You have to think about everything you do. You can't just do things." - Josh, eloquently referencing life on the farm. Examples: not drinking too much of anything late in the day (8ish) for fear of using the outhouse in the middle of the night, checking the water tank for any unwanted things, walking in sandals among poison ivy, using up the hot water in the shower, etc, etc. Now, living takes up most of our time. Just doing things like showering become an event. We must walk a few minutes down the road, find a time when it's still light out and still warm, and bring whatever we want to change into. All that is trivial to the gorgeous view out of the open side. It's essentially a little hut with no door, just a curtain. Since people don't walk by often we can leave the curtain open. Quite delightful.
The irrigation pond
Day 1 on the job. Lots of information, lots of tasks. 9-12am was with Polly, the CSA director. During this time we removed rocks from the vegetable beds, attempted to set up irrigation hoses (a piece was missing), mixed soil, and transplanted celery and tomato seedlings from smaller trays to bigger ones. I don't have pictures from this but one of these days I'll bring my camera down to work.
Josh in the morning sun
From 12-1 We have lunch. Then after that we worked with Ron, the maintenance man, mechanic, fertilizer salesman, all-knowing farm man. With him we learned to fix hoses, had a safety meeting, fixed the lawn mower, cleaned the washing machine, learned how to fix a shovel, then worked to set up the irrigation house for the remainder of the time. This went on until about 6 which was later than normal. Again, lots of information, lots of tasks. Good stuff to know.
We were given asparagus, cilantro, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, garlic, and green onions. We're already living off the land and cooking is a thrice daily activity. Last night we picked dandelion greens- turns out they're bitter. I wouldn't recommend them.
Tonight we had hot chocolate for dessert. Glorious way to end the day (though this means more visits to the outhouse). Tomorrow is all day with Polly.
I apprenticed on a farm in southwest Virginia from April-October 2010. This blog contains all the anecdotes and observations from that adventure.
See more of my photos here