Together We Harvest
First, my apologies for missing September, I have a good excuse. I have never felt so busy than in September where I was rushing to find “good” workers and still working in the orchard to get it ready for our annual walnut harvest, and taking care of my 3 and 4 year old. I must say it did all catch up to me at some point and I felt exhausted and overwhelmed. I have a huge respect for other working moms out there who pull this off 365 days a year.
That being said, I would like to talk about my experience as an employer. We have been hiring people for about 5 years now and I have experienced something different every year, but none like this year. I put out a simple, yet detailed ad saying exactly what we were looking for in an employee, and the directions to follow if they were interested (send a resume, and availability). This is how it played out: 40 percent of people actually had anything near the skill I was asking and of those 40 percent, only 10 percent did what I asked, and of those 10 percent only 5 percent had working phone numbers, and of those 5 percent….Well, they did not return my calls!?! So confused as I know there are plenty of people who would appreciate a skilled job that trains it’s employees, I was just not able to find them this time.
A note about how we work-We make it a point to find those who want to eventually work in ag and train them on machines, tools, harvest, etc. It is important to us to be able to play a part in the future of others as well as receive a great employee who wants to learn and helps get things done. That being said, I never found a single person this year, yet we got lucky at the last minute with two young guys who have been doing a fantastic job. Thanks to a referral from my sister, we ended up with two of the best employees we have had to date. They work with crazy hours, tried just about everything we have asked, and I have yet to here one complaint. And in the end, they will walk away from our farm with skills that they can put on those resumes.
We are officially in harvest!!!!
This is the time of year where everything gets put aside until every last nut is shipped off. No traveling, no casual days anywhere, no extra curricular activities of any sort. No excuses! just work. We all know what has to get done, and as a team we come together for a month and a half, and get it done. It sort of feels like a religious experience that we are all going though together. We all suffer so we don’t comment when we see the other person struggle, because no words are needed, and when everything goes right, we go home and wait for another day more relaxed, and when it is all done…That is a feeling that is hard to explain, but let me try. Imagine running a month long marathon with a few water breaks, and we all hit the finish line at the same time. We collapse with a reserved ecstasy, reserved because even though we have completed an amazing feat, we know that the job resumes, we know that others hold the future when it comes to the price of walnuts and of what we accomplished. Am I being dramatic? Sure, a bit, but it is all true. If you come from a world of farming, then I am sure you can relate in some ways, otherwise, it is hard to understand the complexity of emotions that come before, during and after HARVEST.
At this point we have only just began, but we are moving along rather smoothly I believe. No major breakdowns or mechanical issues, and everyone is working together well as a team. How do I handle this as a mom of two little ones? The best that I can. I have them there with me when I have to but away from any moving tractors/machines. They love working on the belt picking out the bad nuts, and it is fun watching their excitement. Even as a new mom I had my little one strapped to my back as I walked the rows with a rake. It is super important to me that they learn the meaning of this land, and enjoy what it has to offer from the start.
And just as walnut harvest has started, our produce is slowing down. The tomatoes flavors change, we harvest our last melons, and wait for the last of the winter squash. We are still enjoying the blooms of Dahlias and Zinnias as those will go all the way to out first frost usually, and we are harvesting the last of the corn (our second). The figs and apples are ending and the persimmons pomegranates and citrus are arriving. We are a bountiful farm where many nights our meals come completely from our farm. Talk about satisfying. I will soon be posting stories about how we used the veggies and fruits that came from our garden in the food sections, so stay tuned.
Our October harvest…Wow, still bountiful
What our garden looks like in Fall
And flowers still being sold along with tomatoes at out produce stand.
I look forward to sharing more stories of food and family soon, as well as more fall pictures because it is one of the most beautiful times of year here on the farm in Northern California.