Interning

My apologies for the recent radio silence, the only excuse I can offer is that I have been insanely busy transitioning between internships and moving to another part of the state.

Wrapping Up My First Internship

02.09.14

My first farm internship finished this past week. I got accepted to a full year/full season internship position in Northern California, so it was time to move on. I was surprised by how difficult my last day was with Cari and the farm. I was so sad to leave, I hadn’t expected to bond so much with the animals. I know I will visit them again, but it was still heartbreaking to drive away that last time.

This internship was an amazing experience; I learned so much from my time with Cari at White Mountains Ranch. I took tons of notes and drew little diagrams of the farm set-up in my journal. I completely foresee using the skills, methods, and knowledge that I got from Cari.

Sadly (or maybe not so sadly) my shoes and work gloves were completely dead by the end of my internship. Both shoes and gloves got thrown away; I’ll start fresh with the new farm. It was even bittersweet throwing away my shoes… those were the shoes that Ghia the goat peed on when she “welcomed” me to the herd!

Old_farm_shoes

Moving, Yet Again

It seems like moving has become the story of my life, I can’t even count the number of places that I’ve lived in the last 5-7 years. Once again I packed my car up to the gills and drove North. I packed my car so much that the poor Prius thought there was a passenger in my front seat. I had to seatbelt in my backpack before my car would let me drive off into the dark morning.

Interning in NorCal

02.11.14

I arrived at my next farm internship mid-afternoon, this is the farm that I’ll be living and working at for the next 10+ months. There was a bit of a scramble when I drove in to get everything settled. I will have to write a longer post on the living situation, because it’s definitely interesting.

The farm I’m at is mostly animals, lots of chickens and cows. They run a milk herd share, and I’m very excited to learn the ins and outs of dairy.

More to come soon, with lots of pictures!

Baby_Eclair

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Starting With Farming

Goat_onahill

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.

Duckies

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.

Goat_friends

Are you talking to me?!

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).

Goat_selfie

Goat selfie!