Every morning for the first two weeks of the semester, my cabin, Gordy, has had the experience of morning farm chores. Farm chores start with a wake-up call at 6:00 am to the sounds of 5 different alarms set by my cabinmates. We all quickly change into our farm clothes, which is usually a tee shirt under our overalls or other form of work pants. While leaving our cabin in the morning, we are accompanied by the beautiful Maine sunrise, giving us painted skies that the rest of the semester doesn’t get the chance to see.
After leaving our cabin, fully prepared for the chores ahead, we head to the kitchen where we pick up the compost, slop for the pigs, and the empty milk barrels. We roll the cart full of supplies to the farm, where each member of our cabin disperses to begin their own chores. There are 5 different types of jobs that you can choose to learn on the farm. These are: chicks and compost, pigs, turkeys and layers, fences, and milking the cow.
My job is compost and chicks. Luckily, I have one of my cabin mates, Kemi, to complete my tasks with. First, we take the filled compost buckets in the cart and empty them into the massive compost area. After the first few days, you don’t even really notice the smell. You might think this is gross, but you actually get used to it and eventually make jokes with your partner about the weird food that you find in the buckets. After emptying them, you use a powerful hose to quickly clean the containers.
After finishing compost, we get to move on to chicks. During the first week, the chicks were super small, so they had 4 different areas with food and water. Our jobs were to clean and restock their coops. Now, the chicks are too big for the smaller cages and were moved to a huge coop. This area is easier to restock because instead of 4 different food and water containers, there is one of each.
Once our individual chores are done, we wait for Cordelia to come back from the pigs with the emptied slop buckets. In the meantime, we start to help with team chores. My favorite is to climb the ladder to the hayloft and get to barrels of hay. When you have the hay at the top of the hayloft, you yell, “hay”, and your partner yells, “Hey” back to you. We always do this in really weird voices to entertain ourselves.
When Cordelia comes back with our buckets, Kemi and I bring the cart back to the kitchen with all the dirty buckets in order to clean them. We bring about 10 buckets and lids in one trip to the washroom because we refuse to go back for more. We rinse the buckets and lids off quickly and then send them through the hobart. The hobart is a sanitation machine that sends boiling water and cleans the buckets. Usually, this is quick and easy, but sometimes our lids fall off the trays and get stuck in the machine, so we have to figure out how to get them out without touching the droplets of water. Once, we even got a full bucket stuck and had to figure out how to pull it out from in between the poles, while it was full of water. Sometimes, if you’re nice to the chefs, especially Aaron, he will bring you a fresh-baked scone or muffin to try before they are served for breakfast
Although farm chores are super early in the morning seven days a week, unlike the other morning chores, they are an amazing experience. The collective hardships of waking up and jokes about the farm quickly bonded my cabin bringing us closer together faster than we ever thought. Every job on the farm comes with its own excitement and new experiences that you couldn’t find anywhere else.
-McKenna D’Amico, Hopkins School, Westport, CT