Thursday, February 12, 2009
I Work on a Farm....Again
After a few years away from tilling and working the earth, I have returned. Not to Flannigan Creek Farms, but Palouse Organics, a bigger operation owned by Frank Hill and operated by a handful of folks which now includes yours truly.
In a few ways it's the perfect job for me right now. The day Amy and I returned from our wedding I got a call from my boss who informed me that due to the deflated economy, I and three others from Terramark had been laid off. Work had been slowing down before we left, and more often than not, I'd found myself "volunteering" to take the afternoon/day off because of the lack of work. After shoveling a few roofs and other odd jobs I got a call from Frank who asked if I'd be interested in working on his farm until March 22. I'd never met Frank before, he only knew of me through the gracious compliments and recommendations of Jordan Smith, Brian Points, and James Arrick. So while only temporary work, it's still about a month and a half of consistent, good-paying work. And the work is fantastic.
My first day there I was instructed to haul a dead horse "over the hill" with the old Kubota tractor. Having just learned how to drive the thing an hour ago, I hooked a chain to hind legs and took off up the hill and through the snow. At the top I could see a ton of the Palouse, the Bitterroots to the east, and the tops of the Seven Devils to the south. After delivering the horse to its final resting place next to an eyeless steer that had died earlier in the year I trekked back to the barn and learned the intracacies of dairy cows.
Shufford, the master of the farm until recently, showed me the feeding and watering routine for Flower and Lovey, the two milk producers. He tossed some hay from a bale on the ground into a wheelbarrow with the afternoon sun coming in full from the open barn door behind him, and I almost went out of my mind with agrarian delight as the chaff and dust flew through the air thicker than snow. It's the kind of stuff you can breath in, almost choke on, and want more.