Rob Freeland

Experiential Learning

Agroecology On-Farm Internship 2003

Many times on a farm I feel there are moments that can’t be fully understood unless they are experienced by the reader themselves. However here is my attempt to explain what summer life is like on Briar Patch Farm.

A typical day on the farm started at 5:30 AM, when I opened my eyes the sun was just breaking over the horizon. Many mornings it was rainy and wet, however there were those few mornings where the sun was breaking through the early morning fog and the mornings where the sun was glowing a cherry red that made those early morning awakenings worth while. I would drag myself out of bed and into the work truck. When I first arrived we had to stop on the way to the farm and shovel fresh cut grass into the pick-up to feed. Justin and I would feed at both barns on Preston’s farm. One thing that will stick with me forever is the odor that every billy goat that was of breeding age emitted. We’d have a break for breakfast after we were done; then at around 7 AM we would get back into the truck and head up to the shop to receive the days order.

The typical orders were haymaking tasks, unless it was raining, so the day wouldn’t start until the dew came off the grass. Carson or I would rake the grass into windrows then we would let the hay dry some more, around 2 or 3 we would fire up the baler and start baling. Within 20 minutes we would have a full wagon to unload. Then from then on out we would have a wagon to unload every 20 minutes until 7 at night or whenever we stopped. Some days we would unload 15 loads before we would stop. After that many bales of hay all we wanted to do was go to sleep. However we had to feed the goats and we always had to feed ourselves or the next morning would be next to impossible. Around 9:30 or 10:00 we would finally crash. It felt good to finally be able to relax but we knew that the next day would start bright and early at 5:30.

After the previous night of hay unloading I’d wake up a little sore and go through the same feeding ritual. The hardest thing to do the morning after is picking up the first hay bale to feed. The twine on the bale made my hands hurt, my shoulders were sore and I was tired too. It had to be done so we did it, no questions asked and without complaining about it. After a few days like this my body got used to it like it always has so it became easy. We would receive new orders everyday and we’d just get them done and then the next day we’d do it all over again. That’s what farm life is like, sometimes repetitious but that’s farming. A man once told me that he farms because he liked to, not for the money, I believe that is the only way you can farm. You have to want to and you have to enjoy it, if you can’t do that then you can’t farm.