One of the things that really sold me on coming to Chewonki was the farm. As a total city kid, I never had the chance, but I have always wanted to be on a farm and work with animals. However, I was not expecting to be the first cabin to do farm chores.
When my cabin and I dealt out the chores, I opted for chicken chores. It felt like a staple farm thing, taking care of chickens. Plus, there are two people on chicken chores, and I figured it would be easier with company. So, on the third morning of my Chewonki experience, I found myself at the farm at 6:30 in the morning, learning how to take care of surprisingly loud chickens. My friend and I learned how to fill their water feeders, feed them, retrieve their eggs and then wash their eggs. We also were taught how to do the communal chores, like throwing hay bales and cleaning up the barn. The next day, it was time to put our knowledge to the test and do the chores on our own.
The first day, I struggled. I was entirely new to taking care of chickens and felt unprepared for the task. But, I pushed through, and even learned a couple strategies to make it easier. I was also terrified and excited to collect the eggs. I had never ever touched a chicken before, and now I had to reach under chickens to collect their eggs (in case they were sitting on any). It was an incredibly surreal experience to, in less then a week, go from my hour-long subway commute every morning to, quite literally, reaching under chicken butts to collect their eggs. I returned to the Wallace that morning exhausted and dirty, but with a deeper sense of gratitude for this opportunity and experience that I get to be a part of.
I now have five more mornings of farm chores, and I think I have really gotten the hang of it. Even though many mornings I wake up and groan at the idea of having to get up and take care of stinky, loud chickens, I am really going to miss it. I love the chickens pecking at the ice on my boot covers, and getting to greet them every morning as they crowd around me. Being on farm chores has brought my cabin closer and has prepared me to spend the rest of my Chewonki experience with a deeper sense of gratitude and connection to the natural world. Every day, I walk back to the Wallace with my friends as I watch the sun come up and feel tired, but ready for the day to officially start.
Amanda Wopschall, The Spence School, New York, NY