Um, so yesterday’s trip to the farm wasn’t as scenic as my first foray. Upon arrival we were sent out to the muddy, MUDDY leek fields to weed. This was good in some respects, because the weeds certainly left the wet ground a lot easier than they would if it were dry. So, yeah, bonus. But the mosquitos were in full bloom, the clumps of mud were flying, and it was just under 100 degrees outside. So every time I’d use my dirty hand/forearm to wipe my soaking-wet-with-sweat hair off my face, I’d get mud all over myself. The return of Pig Pen.
Okay, so after 90 minutes in the leeks, I was still keeping pace with everyone else, and I felt good. It’s hard, hard work out there. That’s why no one stops by and does it for free. Except for me, that is. Anyway, from there we moved on to the cucumber/zucchini field to weed. That’s where the trouble started. Every time I knelt down and stood back up, I felt woozy. Queasy. About to pass out. Not good. I was starting to get embarrassed, but I knew I couldn’t stay out there and keep pushing – otherwise I was going to be flat on my ass in no time.
Mike, one of the farm’s owners, found me a job in the barn airing out the onions. Great! Shady, nice and cool. Only every time I bent down to grab a pile of onions, then stood up, I felt faint. Woozy. Um, you know the drill. After apologizing profusely to Mike, and assuring him I wouldn’t be leaving early (I had locked myself into carpooling this week – oh yes, I know myself – I need every trick in the book to keep myself in manual labor), he went off to, I don’t know, do some farm work.
And I sat in the onion barn and cried. Cried about how my body let me down, and how I let my body down. Cried about how as a 35-year-old woman there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to handle this work. Cried because my eyes were full of sweat, mud, dirt, dust and onion mold. Then, in a scene straight from one of those inspirational farm-hand movies (you know ’em!) I took a swig of water, got back up, and turned every single one of those onions.
I waited for the choirs to sing and the ladies in the gold dresses to come rushing out with my award, but nothing happened. I tracked down my other two volunteers, who’d just finished weeding the cuke beds alone (at that moment I think their sympathy for me wasn’t at an all time high) and we waited for Mike’s next instructions. When we found him, I pretty much leapt in the air to tell him “I finished turning the onions!” He thanked me in a way that let me know he appreciated I was capable of doing the very easy job he’d given me to do while everyone else did backbreaking labor in the field. And by that I mean he said “Thank you. Anyway, next you’re all going to be trimming shallots.”
So off to the hoop house we went for an hour of cutting the ends off of shallots. While there I managed to ram into a piece of machinery and knock the farm radio onto my arm. But I nearly kept pace with everyone else and I didn’t pass out, nor did I vomit. And I didn’t cry again.
I’ve signed myself up for carpool duties again next week – while I was so ready to quit yesterday I know I owe it to myself (and the farm) to keep working at my commitment. Plus, man, the veggies. Fresh sweet corn, fennel, potatos (which I may or may not have picked!), pints of sungolds, heirloom tomatoes, squash, melon, onions, basil, beets…and more. I think it’s worth it.