From desk job to farm intern.
For me, giving up a steady paycheck-earning desk job to pursue a farming career was a combination of careful planning along with a leap of faith. My initial plan was to go to a farm internship institute for one term, then find a follow-up internship on a working farm. I even got so far as to interview (in person) with the farm institute, and start planning my exit strategy for my desk job. Then I found out I had been wait-listed for the term that I had applied to, and my plans were crushed.
Being the resilient person that I am – not really, there was a lot of chocolate and wine involved in lifting my spirits – I set off to find another option. I didn’t want to wait any longer to start interning, and I was no longer convinced that the farm institute was the best option for me. So I renewed my WWOOF membership (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), found an apprentice/internship listing service for sustainable farms, and started scouring the internet for internship positions in California.
I very quickly discovered that most farm internships start in Spring, in fact most farms don’t even want interns during the Winter. I was emailing people everywhere, and got very few response emails. In my desperation, I emailed a SoCal acquaintance from a chicken meet-up group that I was involved in for a while. When I first met Cari, the farmer, I had bookmarked her farm’s website and would frequently check in online to see what she was up to.
Interim internship, a foot in the (barn) door.
It turned out that Cari was very open to having me intern with her, but she wasn’t set up to host an intern/WWOOFer on the farm. She was also okay with the fact that I couldn’t commit to specific timeframe for the internship; I knew that I would want to start in January but had no idea if/when my next internship would start.
Through this whole process, I was applying for full-season internship positions that would start in Spring. With the promise that the SoCal internship would be just be for the Winter, and that I would be pursuing a full-season internship with housing on the farm, my parents gave me the go-ahead to crash their guest room temporarily.
My first day on Cari’s farm was Christmas Eve. Cari has a herd of dairy goats, turkeys, ducks, several breeds of chickens, and a hog. I was in heaven. I ended the day with a wicked splinter in my hand, and had my car die on the drive home. I still think it was an absolutely wonderful day. I got to cuddle with the sweet and adorable goats, watch the ducks play in a small pool, and start learning the ropes of feeding all the animals.
Onward from here.
Hopefully I will have some entertaining stories to share from the farm. I am still working on landing a more permanent internship, updates to follow soon (fingers crossed). I have two interviews set up, and am looking forward to getting a better feel for each farm before committing (assuming that the farms choose me).