Day 17, Like Ice Cube said, "Today was [almost] a good day."
I love volunteer farming (said no one ever). Just kidding. Back-breaking labor in the blazing hot sun and fighting flies with amateur kung-fu slaps remind me of being ten years old again. The day began with moving all of the potatoes we've been harvesting into a giant crate. Though the work itself was harder, it was a much welcomed change. Anything different than harvesting potatoes would have put a smile on my face at that point. We had learned that there may be rain in the afternoon, and it turns out that rain is this farm's kryptonite. We rushed to get various things inside different structures so they didn't get wet. Our last task was to gather all of the dry kale seeds and sticks and set them on fire in the middle of the garden's labyrinth... I know that sounds a little strange. Especially since the next sentence isn't going to be "as the kale seeds burned in the middle of the maze the spirit realm was abolished" or "the fire roared as we then threw the one ring into the flames". The fire was mighty and the last seeds burned just as the rain started to fall. At the break the sexes split up and were given different tasks.
After the break the ladies went off to clean Lambert's house and the men stayed behind to taste different beers and hot wing recipes... I wish. The men lifted random heavy machines to dryer ground and put away more potatoes so the cruel cruel rain wouldn't ruin them. The sun decided to come back out and we tried our hand at potato gathering once again. Did you know there are more than thirty seven* different types of potatoes? No? Neither did anybody else on earth, until now. I was harvesting a peculiar looking potato. It was of the longer, small log-type variety and purple. They had a shape one might say looks like a baby ruth candy bar on a hot summers day. They look like the waste the lovable children's character Barney might leave behind. If you were to eat them (the potatoes) you would be a purple fecal eater. The sun didn't think my new discovery was that funny and decided to let his rat bastard friend back in the party; rain.
After the work day was over everyone took turns showering and was in a pleasant mood due to the fact we didn't have to mess with the monotony of just potato farming all day. As we gathered before going over to Lambert's house for dinner, Lambert himself showed up to give us some exciting news. He said we were going to have dinner early because we would be going back out to harvest potatos afterwards. We all sat silently, for about 3 seconds. We argued that we had already showered and worked a full day. Lambert said it was going to rain much more the following day and maybe even that night and his potatoes may be ruined. Talks went back and forth until we told him we would decide what we wanted to do and give him our answer at dinner if we were doing to work that night or not. After a short meeting we decided that we would work if we could get Friday off since we would have worked the equivalent of a full work week by then.
At dinner we gave him our response and he agreed to our terms. The hardest part was putting sweaty, not yet dried, work clothes back on our just cleaned bodies. After moving at ludicrous speeds the work flew by. Before dark we snatched all the potatoes from their earthly homes and put them into wooden or plastic boxes to meet their impending doom.
The second round of showers began and we sat outside on our picnic table around the one light source (a clear plastic water bottle placed on an iPhone light) and talked about the our day and what everyone was going to do with the extra time off. As we called it a day we crept up to our room to do our best Rip Van Winkle impression.
*This is a rough, but close, number. Actual number is still to be determined
Day 18, I can almost taste the three day weekend
Weekend... so.... close... We started off the day by putting the last of the potatoes in their giant crate shaped tomb. After this we began weeding. Some of it was done by hand, but most was done by using a long tool with a blade on the end. Kind of like a gardening ho with a pistol grip and a blade on the end (insert favorite lady of the night inappropriate joke here). I was weeding and came across a 50 meter patch of flowers. The flowers had swarms of bees and you could hear them swarming from a distance away. I was working with Steven and he asked me why I stopped. I told him there were hella bees and I didn't want my story to end like "My Girl" (I had to explain the movie reference to him). He told me the bees in Europe weren't aggressive and wouldn't bother me if I didn't bother them. I trusted him and sure enough I was working within a meter of Bee-stock and they didn't care.
Most of the day carried on as we weeded and moved the rest of the farming equipment into various sheds and dryer places. At the end of the work day we all prepared for the big event: Veenhuizen BBQ-Fest-a-Palooza 2013. The volunteers showed up to Lambert's house early to help prep. As the finishing touches were being put on the different dishes the dreaded rain came back to shit in our cereal. We scratched Plan A and proceeded with Plan Z: Having the BBQ at our place in the barn. We packed up all of the goods and headed over to the new venue.
The BBQ was a big hit. As people were finishing their dinner the wifey and I had picked up supplies to make a true american delicacy for dessert; S'MORES... or at least as close as we could come. Graham crackers don't exist where we are so we settled for ginger bread like cookies. The marshmallows weren't quite the same as Stay Puff, but we made them work. We had to make each S'MORE by candlelight, literally. The others loved it. Shana and I knew, within a the short time we're here we'll be able to introduce enough American food to make Europe as fat as America.
If you had to sum up the day in a formula it would look like this:
Farming = tiring. BBQ = fun. Sleep= good.
Day 19, Asssssen. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.
After a brutal work week we were ready for our weekend, but before we could fully focus on our three day weekend we had to find a place to stay in Amsterdam. After searching various sites for a possible place to rest our heads we came across an air bnb room that will put us up for a couple of nights. We decided to figure out the rest from there and headed off to Assen with Manuel and Roger to start our long weekend.
Assssssen. A short 20 minute bus ride from Venhuessheuin-steein-burg-town-atroplolus. The town is small, but has tons of shopping and things to do. We sat down and grabbed a cappuccino andan ice cream cone in the towns centre. After that all we cared about was heading to the grocery store to pick up something to eat other than bread and cheese. We all ran around the market in different directions collecting the ingredients needed for our dinner.
After returning home we all made our individual feasts and chatted the night away. Around one o'clock in the morning we started to hear some type of holland folk music. Shana got scared and asked one of our new friends to check and see where the music was coming from. The music was coming from a barn down the block. They turned all of their speakers up to at least 11 for us to be able to hear their music. After all of our beers were gone we decided to call it a night and looked forward to sleeping in again.
Day 20, Saturday Faturday
You know things are slow around here when Jerrad only writes three paragraphs about a whole day. Weekends are really, really fun up here with our new friends, but there's not much to write about except, "Slept in. Snacked. Laughed. Walked. Snacked. Hung out some more. Dinner. Sleep."
One specific funny thing that happened this weekend was when Roger was talking about what he thought about me and Jerrad when we first met. He said he soon realized that I was Boss Lady and that I should feel lucky to have someone like Jerrad who will put up with my crap. We all laughed for a long time. I no longer like Roger.
The day was filled with lounging around, eating snacks, stealing wi-fi, dinner at Lambert's and eventually sleep. Doing nothing all day is a lot more fun than it sounds.
Day 21, Assen x2
After sleeping in again we (Roger, Jerrad and I) decided to check out Assen again rather than sitting around the house all day snacking. Instead, we'd spend it snacking in Assen. We took the bus to Assen and when we got there we realized everything was closed. Sundays make Assen look like a ghost town. Even the grocery store was closed so we couldn't pick up any more Yum Yum noodles (diagram 9.7) or much needed gummy frogs.
After walking around for a bit we decided to head back to the farm for some more lounging. And snacking. And eventually sleeping.
Although it was not a very eventful weekend, it was extremely fun just hanging out with the other volunteers. The weekends definitely makeup for the hard workdays.
Day 22, Monday = Berrrrieessssss
Monday was the best farming day yet. It started with some light hand-weeding and ended with picking berries with Rosie. The weeding went quickly (for Rosie and I). The job we were given after lunch was to pick red berries and gooseberries from the fruit orchard. It was delightful. Even though we got eaten alive by horse flies and stabbed by goose berry thorns, it was really enjoyable. It's fun to just zone out, pick berries and chat for hours.
Jerrad, on the other hand, had a different job. After lunch, when divvying up tasks, Jerrad volunteered to harvest the last of the potatoes (yes, they are never-ending). They weren't any potatoes. They were special potatoes. Potatoes that had 200% more bugs attached to them. Jerrad said there were so many bugs it looked like the ground was moving. Spiders, beetles, maggots... MAGGOTS. I almost barfed just hearing about. Jerrad was a little annoyed when he saw me giggling and skipping after lunch because I was in a berry-picking mood.
After work everyone stole some wi-fi, snacked, napped, etc. we got ready for dinner, which was a yummy bean soup. Getting home cooked meals every night while in Veenhuizen has been fantastic. I will definitely miss the cooking here.
Lambert told us that the following day Jerrad and I would just help out at the house until 12 and the rest of the day would be off. This meant Monday was our last day on the farm (we made it!) We didn't ask questions (for fear of losing this offer) and obviously agreed. After the dinner we all came back to the farm and went to sleep early to prepare for the next day.
Day 23, Bye Bye Now
Tuesday was great as well. We had dirtless nails all day long. From 8am-12pm we got to hang out with Lambert's two adorable kids after we did some light cleaning. We helped the kids paint, draw and talked about video games.
At noon we headed back to the farm and ate some pasta that Rosie made. It was really nice to eat something other than a cheese sandwich (our favorite/easiest meal currently). Then it was nap time and pack time. After packing we got to hang out with the volunteers for one more afternoon. And by hang out, I meant we all to steal wi-fi together.
Dinner was really nice because Lambert's wife made a special vegetarian meal for our last night there. It was a lemony, zucchini-y millet for those of you dying to know. After dinner we all decided to go home to spend some quality time with each other (read: it was raining and the wi-fi was a no-go). We headed off to our bed (aka mattress on the floor) one last time. We said goodnight to the spiders, goodnight to the beetles, goodnight to the moths and goodnight to the mosquitos.We will miss waking up with 23 new bug bites each morning. We will miss the feeling of accidentally squeezing a squishy, moist, cold, black, rotten potato. Most of all, we will miss having dirt in our but cracks long after a shower. Overall, being here has been a positive experience. It made me realize I never want to be farmer and that Jerrad really is the nicest, most positive person in the whole world. I'm looking forward to our other volunteer experiences ahead of us. I can't wait to meet more volunteers and experience new things. I just hope it involves more berry picking than garlic harvesting.
A tribute to potatoes:
the babiest potatoes ever
empty potato field
The most ridiculous thing ever served to me at a restaurant. Cheapest thing on the menu. It was white bread with basically Kraft singles.
Random lunch spot