Internship Experience - Farming

Most people view the farm as a place where there are many cows, chickens or any other product that is found in the meat section of any super market. However the farm that I worked on and am going to write about is very different from this and has nothing to do with cattle or anything of the sort except my product could be a by product of the feed that is used to feed such animals. I hope to excite one about farms and clarifying minor details along the way as well as give a brief yet informational description of my farm work experiences. Like I have previously stated, I would love to go into great length and talk about my whole four plus year experience and many funny events that have occurred during my farm working experiences but for the sake of time and your attention span, a simple article will suffice.

When I first started at the farm, I had no clue what it was. Like many of you, I thought a farm surely had to have chickens, cows, and horses. Enough cattle to feed the world or at the very least my small community. When I got there, I was very mistaken. My first job or assignment, was at the shop. The shop is where the office, big sheds, and storage facility is. The office is where two secretaries work and where the boss and his few partners have their respective offices. The shed houses all the tools needed to repair any farming tool or machine and also stores all the trucks that are used on the farm. The yard is where all the tractors and other big vehicles are parked after the day is over or they will not be needed anymore at the ranch that they came from. So anyway, the farm that I worked at is an agricultural farm. This farm specialized in lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and pretty much any green leaf vegetable known to man kind.

My first assignment was to fix drip tape which is a very boring job. If you know anything about farming?well we will assume that you do not know anything about farming?drip tape is a long piece of tape that has many small holes in it to water each individual plant. It is spread out along a farm and waters each plant. Anyway, each field is not the same length as the next field or the next best option. So, you have to fix the drip tape by splicing back together using a very interesting method of heat which splices it. To note, the drip tape is plastic/ rubber so it splices back together.

This got rather boring and I'll skip most of my stories and experiences with drip tape, as they are all boring. As I got older and able to drive vehicles, I was given more assignments. Since the older and more experienced workers know how to do more things, the younger less experiences workers (myself included) have to go out and do all the errands. I remember one time in particular when I had to go do such an errand. At this one field there was a huge squirrel infestation and we had to do something about it because they were eating all the lettuce. I put up traps and put bait inside of them that was basically poison yet the squirrels could eat it. Afterwards, the field next door was just watered. I decided that I wanted to get back faster than normal because it was already four fifty-five and I got off work at five. I made the very stupid and dumb decision at the same time to drive through the area between me and the closest exit. This area was full of very slippery mud and was just recently watered. I thought my work truck could make it but I was very very wrong. The work truck that I drove all the time and that particular day is an old Toyota truck that is at least twenty to thirty years old that does not have four wheel drive let alone two wheel drive?just joking about the two wheel drive thing.

Anyway, I decided to drive through the very muddy and slippery part of this to get home fast. Unfortunately, I sank in the mud like quick sand and was left there helpless. While I was stuck, the harder I would try to get out, the more stuck I would be. Luckily, one of the workers with a tractor spotted me and came over to my rescue. He attached a chain to his tractor and the small truck front end, then pulled me out of the mess. Tractors do not get stuck in mud because they have enough weight to give the tires traction.

While we are on the topic of driving vehicles and learning how to drive certain vehicles, the time I learned how to drive a tractor was one of the most fun times of my farm working experience. I remember one of the older more experienced tractor drivers taught me how to drive it. I can't exactly explain how I learned because I myself still have a hard time driving one to this day. But the experience was very funny. To begin, I drove pretty smooth at first which is from the take off, but making the turns was very difficult. You see, one end of the field was backed up to this drainage ditch that was very big, if I drove close enough to it there would be a good chance that I would have driven into the ditch. I don't think a little John Deere would just go into the ditch like normal and it's driver and driving instructor (Me and the older experienced tractor driver) would come out of the accident unscathed. I must have got close soo many times to count and each time I would look over at my instructor's eyes as they got bigger and bigger with enough fear to fill a whole jar of water each. From this experience, I learned a lot and definitely I will put this on my resume!

When I first came to this job, working on the farm, I had little to no clue how to drive a manual five speed car or truck. This experience is something that I cherish from my whole learning experience at the farm. I cherish this because it is a skill that I always wanted to learn how to do just never found any person and car to teach me. The Toyota truck that I mentioned earlier was the perfect tool to teach me how. To this day, I can with much pride say that I taught myself how to drive a manual five speed stick shift transmission car. I remember very well my first time. I asked my boss if I could practice with the Toyota outside in the yard, knowing what a piece of junk the truck was, my boss was more than happy to give me this glorious opportunity. I must have stalled a thousand and one times. By the end of the day?just to note, I didn't start at the beginning of the day?so at the end of my two hour session I had almost fully mastered the stick shift transmission, or as much as I thought I did. My first test was when I had to drive it on the road, I did pretty good. I only stalled out once except every time I shifted gears except from first to second but then on after that I would grind the gears together. It was awful, people looking over at me like I was some sort of fool. Luckily I wasn't driving a nice car or anything in a class of Porsche etc. etc. otherwise I would have made an even bigger fool of myself. By the time I got back to the shop, I knew that definite work and practice would have to be done in order to fix these mistakes. Over time-a one month period-I got very good at it and I can now say that I am a very good self taught manual stick shift transmission driver.

What are you supposed to do when a boss is wicked mad and you have to fill up a tire, but you don't know where the correct nozzle is? Just guess and pick the one that does the job! I remember his one afternoon when my boss was pretty pissed off at one of his secretaries and I really didn't want a piece of that pie. There was also no other foremans or supervisors around to ask for help either. I had one problem, the boss told me to fill up a tire with air and I didn't know which nozzle to use, let alone where the correct one was at. So I improvised, I found the one that did the job. Major flaw in this course of action, it didn't read the air pressure inside the tire as it filled the tire with air. As I sat there filling up the tire with air, I must have been there for a little while. I decided that it was enough, so I stopped. I felt the tire which was harder than the concrete I was standing on. Wow!! So I began screwing the cap back on and just as I started twisting the thing the whole tire blew up. It must have blown me back some distance because I was up against a wall and couldn't hear a thing. I was screaming and yelling and wondering what the heck had gone sooo wrong. When I got up I was very nervous on account of a lot of liquid all over me.

The first thought that came to my mind was to check and feel all around me because I thought it was blood. Good thing it wasn't blood it was just the liquid that was in the tire. As I moved around, very slowly, somebody came out of the office. Unfortunately it was my boss yelling out my name and me screaming 'what'!!! I couldn't hear a thing. I just sat there with my ears ringing and trying to pick up all the parts of the tire. Eventually my hearing came back to me and to this day I can't hear things close by although I can hear things far away. There is no easy way to describe this, so I always give the eye example. The eye example is when a person has perfect vision, is far-sided, or is near sided. So from this example, I tell people that I lost my near sided hearing and am a far sided listener?I can hear things far away but I can't hear very well when it comes to things close by.

From my farm working experience, I learned many things. I learned a lot of common sense things because my boss always had to fix everything himself. In a way this is a smart way to save money and make more money. Some of the things that I cherish from this learning experience are simple things like: checking the oil in a car or truck, towing something on a car, fixing the lights and transformers, and various other everyday real world problems. I can safely say that I learned how a farm runs and operates. What it takes to run and operate a farm and how the relationship of farming and the lottery is correlated. The way the present day farmer runs his farm is like playing the lotto for a living but with slightly better odds. Mother Nature controls every aspect of farming and the workers control how fast anything will ever get done. I learned so much more than just farming but about business. The farming business has taught me about the skeleton of all the Fortune Five Hundred Corporations.

by Jason Fukushima

Photo Credits via flickr :1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8