One thing I love about living here on the farm is that each day is so different and I’m learning new things all the time. Still, I’m learning a kind of daily rhythm. Here is a typical “day-in-the-life” from this week:
6:00 Good morning! We’re still settling into a schedule here but usually get up between 5:30 and 6:30. Sometimes I try to get breakfast going or clean up a little. Other days I’ll read or just sit around with the kids who get up early.
6:55 Joined the mad rush for breakfast. All of the interns end up in the communal kitchen to grab toast, oatmeal, or a few eggs so we can take our breakfast to:
7:00 Devotions – Every morning all of the interns meet for a short time of devotions and prayer. Interns take turns leading and can choose how they want to do this. Some pick passages of scripture while others read from devotional materials. Another Catholic on the farm lead a time of Lectio Devina followed by chanting a Latin prayer. Today, my fellow livestock intern lead by reading an essay from Wendell Berry’s collection What are People For? It’s wonderful to sit outside while the sun comes up and watch the hummingbirds dart around the flowers.
7:45 Morning chores – Everyone living on the farm has a chore around the living areas; sweeping, taking out compost, etc. Our family’s chores happen to be done at night (we make coffee for everyone, lock up the building attached to our apartment, and do the kitchen laundry. Ok, Haley does the laundry.) so I just take the time to hang out with the family.
8:00 Daily Livestock tasks – The livestock team takes care of the animal chores that have to be done every day. Refilling waters, feeding, and sometimes moving the chickens and pigs. Then we take the goats out to pasture and make sure they’re all set for the day. Then we move on to all of the other jobs that vary widely. Today we:
8:45 Caught a bunch of chickens. Our birds are very much free range. But some hens take this too literally and we’ve had a few that have been wondering into the garden or laying eggs in the barn (where they rot before we find them). So we caught these wayward birds and put them up in a coop so they can be relocated. Catching chickens in a barn could be a frustrating experience. But if you work with fun people, it can also be a hilarious. We chose the latter.
9:00 Seeded a fall pasture. Our supervisor, Patrick, showed us how to calculate the broadcast rate for our seeder when putting down a mix of seed. Then they let me loose in the field with the tractor. I may or may not have accidentally hit the barn on the way out there. Oops.
10:30 Inspected bee hives and added brood boxes for winter. The actual work only takes a few minutes. But gathering the equipment, prepping smokers, and suiting up takes a while. I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable working with our hives.
11:45 Regrouped and planned fencing for pigs – there’s a running joke that the livestock internship is actually a fence building internship. And there does always seem to be a fence that needs building or repairing. Since pigs are a relatively new addition to the farm, there’s still a lot to figure out about how to best keep them where we want them while still allowing them appropriate pasture.
12:15 Checked on dairy and took retail milk down to the sales fridge. Since our milk is raw, we can only sell it on the farm.
12:30 Lunch – Every work day, one person is designated to cook for everyone. Preparing food for 30 hungry people (interns, volunteers, staff, visitors) is challenging and it’s interesting to see what people come up with. Usually, it’s very good. But even if it weren’t, I’d still love the opportunity to eat with my family. I get to see them so much more than I used to and it’s been such a blessing.
1:15 Kitchen clean – Everyone jumps in to clean and it’s done in about 20 minutes.
1:45 Rest. Settled the kids down for nap.
On Mondays and Thursdays, interns have class on a variety of topics ranging from agriculture, sustainability, development, business, and Christian approaches to hunger and poverty. The other days we just work on whatever needs to be done. Yesterday I happened to need to do:
2:00 Office work. Just needed to check a few emails and print labels for our egg cartons.
2:30 Built a sprinkler – Since rain doesn’t look likely for a while, we needed a sprinkler for the freshly seeded pasture so it can get going. I love working with incredibly knowledgable people who can show me how to do these things.
4:00 Milked goats – Two people milk at a time so I only end up milking once or twice a week. Most of this time is not spent actually milking but setting up and cleaning everything for USDA standards. We’ve got seven goats in milking rotation right now.
5:15 Checked animal waters – the last thing I usually do everyday is walk back to our apartment on a meandering route, stopping at every water container to make sure it’s full. I also check up on all the animals and make sure everyone is where they should be and is secure for the night.
5:45 Dinner – We usually cook in the evenings but lunch was especially good yesterday so we just opted for leftovers. We also usually have enough time for a family walk around the farm.
7:30 Books and prayer with the kids. We’re almost done with Lord of the Rings!
8:30 Reading – I’ve assigned myself a lot of books from the farm’s library. Yesterday I read some of Joel Salatin’s Family Friendly Farming.
9:30 Movie with Haley
10:15 Set up coffee for the morning.