Hello my Communards,
It’s been a while but, I will finally get the chance to inform you of what I have learned during the first two months of my apprenticeship! I could have chosen to take you right up to the present, but, there is just something special about the first two months. I think of it like this: If you are learning a language such as French (in my case), you will not really get all the subtle nuances and expressions until you have set foot in the culture and lived there for at least two months. Well, this is what I presume. I actually only stayed in France for two weeks, and my host family swore that it would take a full two months time to make me truly bilingual. I think this still holds true; lets take the word Irrigation as an example. I understood it before but now it has a much deeper meaning….. I have been sprayed, and soaked by orchard guck, a combination of: water, algae and leaf. In addition, a feat that one can add to a resume, I have helped to break a pump and learned how to fix it all in the same day! It is these cumulative experiences that elevate the word Irrigation to a whole new dimension. Now, I certainly have not witnessed the successes and toils of a full season but after these first two, almost three months, I can proclaim, I speak Farm!
Ah, winter…. traditionally and seasonally the time of dormancy but, on a farm there is always work, albeit preparation, to do. Fortunately, Kevin and Annamarie were set on having the apprentices start at the beginning of March and I was looking forward to starting earlier in the season, too. True to the season I started working only six hours a day. Shortly after, this went up to seven. Still this gave me ample time to prepare for the season ahead. The tasks we tackled were all about laying the groundwork of a fruitful harvest. We pruned the many fruit trees of the farm, learned to wash eggs, press apples into sweet apple cider, and sort apples. A week or so in, we were introduced to the greenhouse and the duties of seeding and occasional transplanting in the greenhouse. When we hit the third week, we were still performing the same tasks but that is when the Klippers purchased three new greenhouses that needed to be dismantled and set-up on the farm. Of course, we still had bi-weekly winter farmers markets so every other week would involve packing the apples, eggs, frozen tomatoes, and frozen cherries. Friday, we would pack the trailer full of winter-time goodies and see the Klippers off. In my mind I would plan the activities of my weekend and know that once it had passed there was another market ahead.
April, will be forever imprinted in my mind as the month of onion transplanting. The days were cold, usually windy with a smattering of dust storms. Regardless of the weather we faithfully carried out the task.Now you must know, Annamarie Klippenstein is lightning fast when it comes to planting onions. When I was first getting the feel for the task, a task that involved planting the onions in tiny holes of plastic mulch, she was 10 times faster than me. We would often joke that if onion planting were an olympic sport she would surely be a the gold medalist. Eventually she was only three times faster than me. A feat in its own right, I accomplished this by challenging myself to stuff more onions in my hand, and reaching farther than my comfortable limit. I felt a bit like an acrobat.
We also planted corn under cover, to reap an early season crop, and transplanted broccoli from the greenhouse. As the first two months came to a close, my body ached but in my mind, I knew that I was comfortable with the life I now found myself in.
Post Script: If you have any questions, please ask away. I simply can not address every aspect of my apprenticeship in these posts, but I would love to satiate your curiosity.
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