Friday, November 4, 2011
Finding Inner Peace as an Agribusiness Intern
After discussing the possibility of working with him during August, David finally acquiesced to my queries and offered that I could join him on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I can only begin to imagine the decision making paradigm he used, to first say yes, and second, to settle on these times, since as a prosperous local farmer getting by without intern help, he was bound to be taking on a lot of risk to the operation.
And then, what about the future? He knows I am a blogger. What if, through my posts, the word gets out that unpaid agribusiness internships are available there and he is flooded with requests from other laid-off, city-dwelling baby-boomers next year? It was quite challenging enough for him to manage one intern - the logistics are exponentially more difficult with two or more.
Nevertheless, so it was that we settled on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the internship. The work schedule roughly followed this schedule:
Confirmed Activities - Meet at the farm at 7am for the drive to the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction. Arrive at the auction 8:30am. Unload the produce (after pee break* - yes, I washed my hands after). Walk around and visit the other farmers, and check out the offerings. At 9:20am, head over for some pie. 9:30am, more farmer visits and auction action. 10:00am, head back to Luray, arriving by 11:00am. 11:30am, discuss optional Tuesday activities and potential Wednesday schedule. 1:00pm, arrive back at Hawksbill Cabin for lunch and nap.
Optional Activities - Since Wednesdays were a major activity day for the pasture-based poultry business, there was work to be done on Tuesday evening. And in this case, I mean actual work of a different type than heading over to the auction house for some pie. The chickens needed to be collected from the pasture and readied for transport on Wednesday - I helped with this twice during the internship; it was an activity that might take place anytime Tuesday afternoon from about 4:00pm to 6:00pm. There was the opportunity for authentic farm-style refreshment afterwords, but I will write more about that later.
Confirmed Activities - 5:00am, meet at the farm. There was the potential for getting very uptight about this schedule, but when I arrived, David would have already loaded the chickens on the pickup for transport, and we would promptly head over to George's in New Market. So my work for this first activity consisted of getting safely into the truck without injury due to darkness. 5:30am, arrive at George's, coordinate the work to be done there. 5:30 to 5:59am, more coordination**, along with certain poultry processing related activities taking place. 6:05am, back to Luray, arrive 6:30am. Head to the pasture to move chicken tractors and feed and water the birds. Complete by 7:15am. Perform chores at the farm until approximately 8:45am. Head to New Market to pick up the processed birds, arrive at 9:10am, and deliver to customers in Luray by 9:30am. The back to the farm for work and chores, which continued until noon or 1pm.
There is more to follow, but for now I wanted to lay out the basic schedule for my dedicated readers.
* Over the years, I've developed a core set of rules for keeping my life simple in these increasingly complex times. There are good reference materials available if you should decide to set out on a similar quest for your own rules to live by and achieving the resulting inner peace. My only advice in this case is to keep the list of rules small, and keep them simple as you can. Here are my basic rules, which I was able to refine only through the enforced rigor of my life as an intern this summer:
Rule 1: If there is free food, eat some.
Rule 2: If you find you have a spare 5 minutes, take a nap.
Rule 3: If there is a place to take a leak, you should. You never know when the next chance will be.
** Some readers will be more familiar with the alternative, technical nomenclature for this second round of coordination. They call it "bullshitting" -