[working hard for fun?]

Surprisingly, I woke up to rooster crows before I woke up to my alarm. I got ready for the day, a little eyeliner and mascara [out of habit] and threw my hair up in a bun. Tomorrow, I think, I’ll ditch the make up. I don’t have anyone to impress on the fields, after all. I wore my jeans, denim shirt, and my knee-high Steve Madden leather boots. George made a sort of oatmeal for breakfast. I think the main ingredients were flour, olive oil, water, and big grains. It’s hard to explain. It was plain, but we added cinnamon to help sweeten it a bit. I liked it. The textures were a bit odd at first, but you get used to it.

Anke took a look at me and said that I’d get too hot in boots. Today, we were going to one of their further fields to dig and water the plants. She was wearing a cotton dress from yesterday so I went back to my tent to follow her lead. If she can work in a dress, then I’ll work in my denim shirt, cropped running spandex, and tennis shoes.

Before we left for the fields, she changes into a tank top, canvas pants, and kept her sandals.

We left the house around 745am and got to the fields about 8am or so. Lambros doesn’t get up so early so Anke brought him in the camper van and he slept in the back bed. I thought it was really interesting that she also brought him to the fields with her when he was younger, too. As I pondered this, I looked out the window, out into the passing fields and far away hills, mentally preparing myself for the work that lay ahead.

My first task: stay in the camper with Lambros until he wakes up. Oh. Okay. That’s not too hard…But it was. I was so anxious to do something, learn something, anything, that I just couldn’t sit still. I ended up sweeping the camper and tidying things up a bit. It’s a really annoying habit of mine that many people don’t like. I’m working on it.

After about 40 minutes or so, Anke came back and let me loose to “get some experience.” George taught me to step around the baby tree plants to check for snakes [eek!] and showed me how to dig a radius around the trees so that the weeds and grass don’t suffocate them.

The work was simple but demanding. The heat, my sweat, all the thorny flowers and bushes, all made it so difficult. I sweat more  in that morning than I do during hot yoga. I didn’t have a hat nor sunglasses and I really regretted it. What was I thinking? I quickly learned not to leave the house without these items if I can help it. I also recognized which thorny things to avoid; watch out for the yellow flowers with the spikey petals, don’t touch the green viney thorn things! My tennis shoes and spandex were covered in prickles and my exposed calves were a bit cut up. I didn’t wear the right things. [Later, I’ll notice that the pricklies don’t’ really latch on to the canvas pants that Anke wears, or my denim shirt. Should have brought pants like that!]

I decided to take a water break after I finished digging two rows. The girl that came before me was only here for 2.5 days and couldn’t stand the heat. What could my excuse be? I thought to myself, “This could be all I can handle. The sweatiness, the thorns, the mosquito bites, this is tough. There’s dirt under my nails, I smell bad. I’m sweating through two tank tops and a button up…” Lambros caught up with me, “ I picked this for you!” as he hands me some wild, purple flowers. Cute. Alright. Well, maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe I just need to stick it out for the rest of the day. I’m just being a big baby.

On our walk back to the field , we saw a teeny, tiny baby turtle. That was really neat!  When we got to the row, I was surprised to see how eager Lambros was to help me. Did I tell you, he’s five? And he wanted to help me dig up weeds? He was so enthusiastic, it was contagious. Well, almost. How excited can you possibly get about weeding? Anyway, it was nice having someone to work with and I was impressed with all that he knew about the different plants in the field. He’s so so smart. Did I tell you, too, that he speaks German, Greek, and English? Incredible! More on him later though :]

We finished weeding-digging around 11 something. Lambros and I played with bamboo shoot swords while George and Anke set up traps for the field rats. When we got back to the house, I went to my shower area, rinsed off my legs, tended to my wounds, and went back to the house. I fell asleep on the couch for a couple hours after lunch. More mosquito bites. Ugh!  Anke made me an essential oil mixture with citronella, tea tree oil, and some other things to keep the mosquitos away. It works most of the time, I haven’t figured out how I often I need to reapply it though.

In the late afternoon, I got ready for my next work shift. I went back to my tent and put on my jeans, boots, denim shirt, hat, and sunglasses. I’d rather be too hot than risk more thorns or mosquito bites. Priorities, right?

 I picked chickpeas in the field for a couple hours. Which, I had never seen raw before. They’re in a sort of shell and when you shake a branch of chickpeas, it sort of sounds like a homemade maraca [sp?]. I should also clarify, that I didn’t so much pick the chickpeas in the field as much as I picked up what the harvester missed. Anke explained that we needed to pick these because 1. It would be a shame to waste any good chickpeas and 2. Next year the chickpeas will grow into weeds for next year’s crops. 

After that, more weeding. This time, I had to pull out grass and some other weird viney thing. It’s so much harder than I realized. Mostly because in order to effectively pull weeds, you have to pull the root out with it so that it doesn’t grow back. The grass weeds were easy to judge because I just looked for the part of the grass that turns a bit purple. If I pull from that area, I always get the root out too. The viney ones, though, those are very tricky because there’s multiple vines and while they all stem from the same root, the root can sometimes be 4-10 inches long in the ground, and I can’t just go digging up all that dirt when there’s other plants growing.

The garden that I was working in was really nice. There were two rows of vegetables and flowers growing. So many varieties: sunflowers, peas, cucumbers, velita, pumpkins, etc. Lambros picked a velita from the garden and ate it raw. I loved that there were no pesticides or anything that prevented us from eating things straight from the garden. He made me take a bite.

I grew up in a house where we always washed our fruits and vegetables from the supermarket. I’m still mainly for it. Sometimes I get lazy, I’ll admit, but mostly the idea of eating dirtiness persuades me to wash everything. Today, I decided to take a chance. I took a bite. It was kind of bitter in its raw form. But, maybe next time I won’t be as nervous about eating things straight from the field, dirty or not. What’s your stance? Do you always wash your vegetables from the store? How about the garden? Why or why not?

Later, I saw Lambros pull apart a dead bug with his fingers. Maybe I won’t be eating things from the fields. Not from Lambros’ hands, anyway. Yucky.

I picked weeds until the sun set. Another beautiful, fiery sunset. I really need to start bringing my camera with me!

We had dinner with more homemade champagne. It’s so so fizzy. If I learn anything at this farm, I hope it’s how to make this champagne! For dinner, we ate tomato-zucchini salad, tomato-zucchini stir fry, brown rice, and watermelon for dessert.

While I cleaned the dishes, Lambros thought he heard fireworks. That was weird. George said that there might be some loud music tonight. It was a Saturday. Saturday? Really? Days just go by when you’re abroad. I don’t keep track of them. No weekends in farming, I guess. I started walking back to my tent, a bit disappointed my guard dog wasn’t with me. I had my headlamp on [which I love] and was on the lookout for anything peculiar that might jump out. Up ahead, two glowing eyes. Holy Crap. What is that? Is that an animal? Are those eyes, for sure? Should I keep walking? Or turn back for help? Oh no, I think I have to pee. I took a couple steps closer. It was my guard dog! Sneaky little guy. He walked with me to the tent. Thank goodness.

George was right. The neighbors, or whoever, were playing very loud music, indeed. I took a shower under the stars while my guard dog stood watch in the other direction. He’s so loyal. I wanted to get a head start on tomorrow’s weeding in the morning so I set my alarm for 630am. I tried to type up a couple updates but was too tired. I went to bed with wet hair. The loud music played until after 2am but I managed to drown out the sound. Goodnight.


3 responses to “[working hard for fun?]

  1. My garden, I always eat straight out of the garden (unless it is a cucumber..I always wash off the prickly things) BUT I ALWAYS wash everything from the supermarket. You never know whose dirty hands have touched the produce you are about to eat!! I think you re safe though. This place sounds beautiful and amazing!! Can’t wait to read the next post!!

  2. I do too! I can’t wait to have my own garden to eat from! I’m so excited about all the things I’ve learned so far :] Why do cucumbers get so prickly on the outside? It’s so weird! Also, foods from the supermarket often have so many pesticides and steroids and stuff in the food, most of the food on the farm is much smaller than what I find in the supermarkets. It’s nuts.

  3. Pingback: [top ten favorites at the orange blossom farm] | simplysheu·

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