Monday, May 28, 2012

Squeezing tits and shoveling shit.

Those are the basics of dairy farming. That, and the cows need to be fed.

I came to this place with minimal expectations, and little idea who I would be working for. We never spoke on the phone or had much in the line of in depth emailing. I saw their ad online, responded, they replied with a detailed attachment of how they work, asked when I can arrive, and I said I'd be there Monday.

Their email gave me the basics. Thirty hours of work per week, I can help with milking if I want, but that's on my time, they'll give me a place to stay and feed me. They also promised to provide work boots. I was sold.

They also stressed that the farm was drug free. I was still sold. I had just spent a week smoking weed daily, so I don't mind taking a break from it. I have two days off a week anyways, and it's only an hour and a half to Amsterdam.

I arrived. The boss lady showed me my room, a caravan (what Americans would call a camper) out behind one of the barns. It's tiny, and gets hot as hell during the day, but it's all mine. It hasn't a toilet, but the barn has been partially converted, and has a kitchen and large bathroom.

I started work the next morning. I cleaned windows all day. Day two was more cleaning and some raking. Day three I spent weed whacking. The farmer loved that phrase. He's never heard it. Days four and five were spent cleaning the milking room and part of the barn.

Sunday and Monday are my days off. Sunday I borrowed a bicycle, and pedaled to the town of Amersfoort. A small but lovely little village. Nothing too exciting. Today, I'm finally catching up on my blogging.

The farm has forty-five cows, one bull, eleven calves, two goats, two cats, one dog, and an elderly chicken. The chicken only lays one or two eggs a week, and will probably become a stew soon. Such is the life of a farm animal. Most eventually become dinner.

This is an organic farm. No hormones for these cows, and the hay fields get no chemical fertilizer or pesticides. The farmer only spreads the cows own shit onto the fields. The rules are different in the Netherlands to qualify for organic. Antibiotics are still allowed, but they are being phased out. This farmer only uses a topical antibiotic that he sprays on an infected hoof or the such. He has a cow with an infected udder, and he gives her a homeopathic remedy, which is the same as no remedy. I don't think cows even have the ability to experience a placebo effect, which is the only hope one can get from homeopathic remedies. I do question whether it is humane or wise to not treat an ill animal. But, I am not an expert on antibiotics or organic farming. I need to do some research. And, don't worry. The milk from the infected cow is dumped down the drain. It isn't sent to the tank.

I can enjoy this life for awhile. I'll stay here for a month or two, and then go off to another, similar type of situation. As long as I have a place to stay, and am fed, I can live quite cheaply. My biggest expense will be traveling from one gig to the next. Maybe I should try hitchhiking.

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