Sunday, 28 June: Colin had to work in the morning, but I kept myself busy while he was away. Once he got back, we headed to Grand Bend for Stegall Festival, a concert featuring local bands in a small bar in Grand Band hosted by the Stegall family, with their three daughters headlining the event. The purpose of the event was to raise money for their recording expenses. There, we met up with our friends, Scott and Kayleigh, and walked down the strip a few times between bands. I was impressed with the talent, especially that of Three Forks, a local band who I also saw in December, and Cats. After the Stegall sisters played, we went back to the house for an evening of relaxing.
Monday, 29 June: Colin dropped me off at the farm in the morning on his way to work. Pam didn’t return until later in the afternoon, so our work day of washing sprout trays and weeding was short lived. That evening, we had our first campfire. It took a while to start and the mosquitoes were eating us alive, but it was nice to watch once the fire was developed.
Tuesday, 30 June: There was somewhat of an overcast starting early in the day, but that didn’t stop us from weeding, and neither did the rain. On the bright side, the rain wasn’t too heavy and it warded off the mosquitoes. However, even light rain becomes unpleasant to work in after a while. After lunch, we cleaned the house thoroughly for Pam’s friends visiting this weekend. I swept the floors, vacuumed the rugs and cleaned out the pantry. After I cooked that evening, Colin picked me up to spend Canada Day together.
Wednesday, 1 July: Both Colin and I managed to get the whole day off, so we go to celebrate Canada Day together. We went to Grand Bend beach, which was booming with both locals and tourists. Although it was a little too cold to swim, we played a round of mini golf, walked up and down the strip and had dinner with our friend, Alyssa, and her boyfriend, Erich, and her cousin, Alex. After dinner, we watched the fireworks on the beach. We had amazing seats and it was a spectacular display.
Thursday, 2 July: Colin had to work early, so he dropped me off at the farm in time for breakfast. While Jason and Tenny (Burmese refugee who has been living with us for the last few weeks) were at the London market and Pam was running errands, Dominique and I pulled weeds, including my personal favorite, the strawberries. After dinner, I gave Dominique a driving lesson. Pam’s truck is a manual transmission and she likes to make sure both London market attendees can drive a manual transmission, as a result, Dominique has never been. She has taken a few lessons in Stratford and with Jason, so it’s my turn now. She did well and she’s almost ready to be an independent driver.
Friday, 3 July: To start the day, I prepared the salad mix for the market. After lunch, I did various tasks like bottle the pine syrup, make labels, take out the recycling and clean. Jason left for the weekend early in the afternoon and Dominique and Pam left for Stratford in the early evening. After they left, my day was more or less over.
Saturday, 4 July: With Jason away for his cousin’s wedding and Pam and Dominique in Stratford for the weekend market, I was left to my own devices on my last day. Thankfully, Pam didn’t give me an overwhelming amount of work. I spent my morning watering the sprouts, cleaning the sprout trays, cleaned the pull-out sofa for Pam’s guests, tidied up the kitchen and washed my linens. Colin picked me up in the evening for one last time and I said my goodbyes to the farm.
In my five weeks of working on a farm, I really impressed myself with how much I could do. The long days and hard work were challenging, but I managed to pull through every day. Needless to say, I will never complain about another physically demanding task again. I feel like I’ve learned a lot of farming, culinary, business and even people skills. The fact that Jason, Dominique and Pam are all easy to get along with made being around them (quite literally) all the time a pleasant experience. Not to mention, my time of over a month here felt like a blink of an eye, even on the hard days. My time on the farm (as well as my trip in general) also helped me be a better packer. I was packing minimally anyway, using two carry-ons to avoid checked baggage fees, but seeing what kind of things I used and didn’t use over a long period of time let me feel out how I should pack for my time abroad.
Pam has been a great host, the work has been quite the challenge (in a good way, on most days, at least), it was a privilege to get to live and work with Jason and Dominique and being close to Colin made my experience that much better. I don’t think I’ll ever own my own farm, but I’ll probably try to have a garden or even a small green house with organically grown food. It was satisfying to see the plants grow after putting in so much work into planting, weeding and harvesting them all by hand. Although I’m sure it has its benefits, I don’t think I’ll stick to an organic diet, especially after seeing the price tags. However, I do think I will try harder to buy some food organically. As long as there’s a reasonable price discrepancy, I will try to buy some animal products organically such as cheese and eggs as well as fruits and vegetables that I eat often. As a lot of you know, I’ve been a vegetarian for several years now and want to do a bit more to help animals and the environment. With that, I will also try to shop at farmer’s markets more often and buy locally.
I would recommend volunteering through W.W.O.O.F. to anybody who feels like the experience would be relevant or helpful to what they’d like to do in the future, even if it’s for the purpose of character-building. I am considering a career in sustainable food systems and felt that a hands-on knowledge of the growth process and work ethic on organic farms would be useful. I would consider doing it again, perhaps somewhere closer to a city, but I won’t be thinking about working like that again for a long time.
All that being said, I felt like my time here was worth it, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I never had to pull another weed in my life.
I have a few more days with Colin before heading (more or less) straight to Hawai’i with my family. I’ve been here for over a month, but I’m nowhere near ready to leave. The best I can do is make the most out of my time left here and look forward to coming back again, whenever that may be.