When I applied to Chewonki, I remember that the presentation given at my school mentioned every cabin would wake up early for two weeks of farm chores. All of my school friends said that they could never do something like that, and even though I was applying I still wasn’t able to imagine myself doing it either. Living in New York City, I rarely interacted with farms, especially not like the one we have here on Chewonki Neck. The first time I saw our Salt Marsh Farm, it was a misty and rainy day. I was in awe of its beauty and all the cute animals, and I sat silently on the farm swing simply watching the rain fall over the farm.
South Halls’s time to do farm chores arrived in mid-November, and as the weather got colder, I got more nervous about how farm chores would go for our cabin. I’m definitely not known for being a morning person, making it to our morning gather on time has been a semester-long struggle, and farm chores required me to wake up almost an hour earlier in addition to walking to the farm in the cold morning air. After chatting with my cabin mates, I realized that we all felt the same way about what chore we did not want to do and that it would be a tough decision. Compost and pigs had a pretty rough reputation at the time, and dumping compost and rinsing food-covered buckets first thing in the morning was not what I wanted my farm chores experience to be. However, when I found out that two baby piglets would be arriving the Saturday after we started, I thought that maybe being on pigs and compost wouldn’t be that bad after all. I knew that I didn’t want one of my cabinmates to be on a chore they didn’t like, and once the topic of assigning chores came up again me and another cabin mate volunteered to tackle pigs and compost.
I can confidently say that I truly enjoyed my farm chore experience, compost, piglets, and all — every time I put something into the compost or the slop for the pigs, I’d hit it with a “See you tomorrow!”. After seeing the piglets every morning, I was able to see them develop their relationship with humans over time. When they first arrived they would jump every time I stepped in their trailer, but now they’re much braver. Just the other day one chased me in their enclosure and even tried to eat my clothing! On those cold and sleepy mornings, they made me smile, whether they were snuggled together to conserve heat, or sniffing me with their little pink snouts. I truly loved to watch them grow into Chewonki’s farm the same way I did through farm chores. If you asked told me a year ago how much I would talk about a pair of piglets, I wouldn’t have believed you. Now I visit two of them every time I go to the farm, even after farm chores have ended, and they’re always able to make me laugh and brighten even the coldest of days.
Kat Hernandez, The Chapin School, New York City, NY