Posted by: gypsytales | January 24, 2010

All in a Day’s Work on the Farm at Chacra Millalen

There were times during our stay on the farm that I would look up at the surrounding mountains and find it hard to believe that I was actually standing in the vegetable garden that I had been reading about for more than a year.  There were so many things I wanted to experience and learn and looking back at our 11 days on the farm we have many fond memories. 

The following account would be more or less what one could expect to do on a typical day at the farm.

At 09:00 each morning Josephine would delegate the duties for the day.  I became really fond of working in the vegetable garden and after a couple of days it was a given that I would choose to work in the garden over and above other tasks.  On this particular day, peas were on the menu for lunch and I was assigned to be the only pea picker.  Fresh peas out of the pod are so tasty and delicately sweet, it took loads of will power to prevent myself eating all the peas before lunch.

Raspberry picking is done daily, but as Saturdays and Sundays are days off, this means that by Monday there are plenty of ripe berries to be harvested.  A total of 30kg of raspberries were harvested on Monday morning.

The Bakery

Lorenzo and Tori from USA

the oven

Every Thursday Lorenzo and one volunteer will bake bread for the week.  The remainder of the loaves are frozen.  Everyone sorts out their own breakfast but the usual would be home baked bread with raspberry, cherry or strawberry jam that had been made on the farm.

loved these boots...standing next to bridge Nico built

Nico, from France, was one of the volunteers on the farm.  He is an excellent carpenter and has been building log homes with his dad in France for the past 4 years.  On the farm he was chief wood worker building bridges and shelters and doing all the wood repairs and maintenance.  All the off cuts were kept in the barn to be used as firewood in the burners.  On the day before we left we all had a huge scare when Nico was stung three times by a wasp he had accidently disturbed under the eaves of the roof.  In no time at all huge welts appeared on his neck, face and body.  He complained of pain in his abdomen and it was evident that he was having a serious allergic reaction to the stings.  Fortunately he could still breath.  Josephine piled him into the car and took him off to the local hospital.  It was an anxious wait that seemed to last for hours and all of us imagining all sorts of things.  There was great relief when he returned looking a little tired but feeling well again.  A powerful shot of cortisone, which caused him to pass out, sorted everything out.

Building on the farm is done with bricks made from clay, straw and water.  After mixing the ingredients each brick takes about 1 hour to make.  In this case they are adding on an extra room and 1000 bricks will be needed to complete the project.  It’s pretty labour intensive but one’s costs are really low.  Building with adobe also has great benefits too.  Rooms are well insulated maintaining even temperatures throughout the seasons with minimal fire risks. 

cooking team...Rose, Feliciana, Abby & Sonja (all from USA)

The sound of the bell at lunchtime is always welcome as by then we’ve certainly worked up an enormous appetite.  Lunch and supper are cooked meals prepared by the cooking teams.  The food was exceptional and we ate until our heart’s were content, or in this case our bellies.  There were also wash up teams for each meal.  Apart from the first couple of days on the farm that were chilly and rainy, the remainder of our time we enjoyed warm and sunny weather enabling us to enjoy lunch outside almost everyday under the huge willow tree.

us with Viviana

We didn’t have to work the afternoon shift so it was a good time to take Spanish lessons.  Viviana lives on the neighbouring farm and each day she would pop across for an hour or so to teach us Spanish.  She had a great way of teaching us which made it fun and improved our memory retention of words and phrases.

For those who don’t want to stay in a room or dorm there is plenty of space to camp under the shady trees with excellent views of the mountains.

It’s hard to believe something we were looking forward has come and gone already.  These are some of the lessons I learned and appreciated so much:

  • In order to have a shower, we needed to make a fire to heat the water.  This exercise could take up to 2 hours before the water was ready.  At the time it was somewhat frustrating but the end result of a hot shower was so worth it.  Now that we are at a hostel, I appreciate even more the fact that when I turn the water on, hot water is instantly available.
  • We haven’t driven a car for almost 2 months.  On the farm there was no internet connection.  One of our Saturdays we walked to the local village to catch up on emails and put up a post or two.  The town was about 5 km away and this took about an hour or so to walk.  Again, you realise that everything is about timing and without transport one realises how dependent we are on it.
  • One of the great pleasures was the silence.  No hooters, taxis, cars, traffic, music, noisy people.  It was the first time in weeks that I was able to sleep without earplugs.
  • One of the downsides was that I suffered with hay fever from morning until evening so I ended up sneezing all the time

Conclusion:

It was an experience I had longed to have.  The benefits were huge and we ate and slept incredibly well.  It came at the right time in our trip, giving us time to rest and catch our breaths.  We have learned so many things and have made new friends too which I’m sure we will see again.  While places are great to visit, people make  the experience that much more memorable.

 

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Responses

  1. OK you answered some of the questions I asked Barry, thanks.

    Still waiting for “toilet paper part II” (or am I?)

    Still enjoying looking over your shoulder – really impressed with your pictures – giving Barry competition!!

    Love UM


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