Kitchen Garden Work Life

Being a Farm Hand

Wilson's Orchard
Wilson’s Orchard

LAKE MACBRIDE— While we were washing root vegetables, the ambient temperature started at 34 degrees and made it to 51 by the end of our shift. A cold, wet day that yielded the soundest sleep I’ve had in a long time. My hands are chapped, and application of lotion and salve to re-moisturize them has had no effect. The repetitive motion of grasping a carrot and squeezing the water nozzle to wash it would be problematic if continued. Once the carrots are washed, it’s done for 2013.

As a paid farm hand, my view of local foods production is different from the farm owners and managers. Where there is inefficiency, or extra production, there is an opportunity to perform paid work.

Part of local food production is a constant discussion about how to improve efficiencies, and my participation is welcome. However, each planting, at each step of the process, is surrounded with a complex mix of issues, challenges, techniques and possible courses of action. In order to answer a question, broad experience is needed, and usually, I don’t have much to add.

The season is winding down, and eventually the crops will be harvested, prepared and distributed, hopefully by Thanksgiving.  It will be time to move on, richer in knowledge and experience if not in money. That matters in our life on the Iowa prairie.