Farm Life

Peacefully at rest

cowsSaturday was my last day of work and let me tell you, the weather gods were shining on me, FINALLY! It was the first nice day outside that I’d ever experienced working on the farm. Oh the irony! The last few days before that were cold and rainy. One day it was so bad that my clothes were completely soaked. To add insult to injury, after a long day of shoveling in wet gloves, I painfully discovered that I had rubbed all of the skin off my palms and was now left with a combo of abrasions and blisters. Let me tell you, the shower that night was one of the most painful I’ve ever experienced. Soap of any kind, plus warm water and blistered hands = ouchy! Try not to scream and scare the neighbors kind of ouchy.

turkeyTo put that in perspective though, I went to work on Thursday and my supervisor was so relieved/happy to see me, which always feels nice. I guess she’d forgotten when my last day was and to be honest, after each day, I don’t think anyone expects me to return the next morning. However, I’m a tough cookie and I was determined to stay until the bitter end of my two weeks, come rain or come shine. That morning, the roof of my co-worker’s (Russ & Jenn) barn had literally collapsed under the weight of the accumulating snow and ice. They run a successful horse boarding facility that houses 20+ horses, chickens, pigs, etc…(and soon a zebra!) in Saugerties. With the help of friends, farm volunteers and another CAS staff member, they were able to get all the horses and chickens out alive. No creature was harmed, luckily. So, that left me, my supervisor and the new guy to run the farm, which explains her relief when she saw me. Needless to say, we got the job done with style and our hearts went out to Russ and Jenn.

The sick thing about that entire situation was that the insurance company told them not to touch a single thing before the adjuster came to see it. Okay, that’s fine…understandable. Except the adjuster wouldn’t be there for another week! WTF!? Part of the barn was still useable at that point, it was just the 2nd story hay loft that caved in. With some snow clearing, tarps and quick repairs the ground floor could be relatively stable and usable, yet with the forecast calling for freezing rain the next few days and them not being allowed to touch anything, I’m sure the barn suffered far more damage than necessary. It makes me angry to ponder and reminds me of Katrina all over again. soapy stachesThese last few days of being a free agent have been restful. That’s basically all I’ve been doing is sleeping. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve also caught up on laundry, house cleaning, bill paying, food shopping, made an order of soapy staches, and started the next round of cold processed soap making. Yes! My first batch didn’t come out as I had planned but oh well. It’s still really nice stuff: 100% carrot juice; organic coconut milk; olive, organic coconut, castor, rice bran and avocado oils; plus titanium dioxide and activated charcoal to add a decorative element. The decorative element was a complete fail because the soap seized up on me before I could swirl the colors. I’m still soaping at too high of a temperature darn it! Like I keep saying, soap making is both an art and a science. And just when you think you’ve got the science figured out and can move on to the art, you find the entire process completely kicks your ass and you have to go back to the start (that actually rhymed quite nicely and reminds me of the Coldplay song, The Scientist). Thus, most of the bars I ended up rebatching last night with sweet orange & basil essential oils and it ended up a translucent green akin to baby poo. I had wanted to make a sweet orange soap anyways and I would’ve had to rebatch it because that’s the best way to make citrus essential oils last in cold process soap. (For some reason, citrus doesn’t have the staying power that other oils do in CP soap.) So now I have some vibrant, carrot-colored, unscented bars for the folks with sensitive skin and some nice smelling, baby-poo-green bars for those who’d like to expand their sensory experience. Either way, they’re both great soaps, they’re just not sexy to look at. Oh well. I’ll get ’em next time tiger!

cold processed soapTomorrow is my big interview for the Programs Manager position at the farm. I’m crossing my fingers and toes. I really hope I get the job but if I don’t, I have a backup plan that I’m equally satisfied with. It’s the first time I can think of that I’ve crafted such a fantastic win-win scenario.

I’ve made my peace with life and the job situation and after this I’m washing my soapy lil hands of it all. This past year I’ve come to the realization that I’m a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I’ve applied for jobs that I’m perfect for yet people don’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge that they’ve received my resume. I’ve applied for jobs that I’m both overqualified and underqualified for and have only heard the sounds of chirping crickets back. This never-ending job search has diverted my attention away from the things I want to do in life. The things I set out to do when I moved here a few years ago. Instead of being offended or wondering what is wrong with me, I have to realize that many of my brilliant friends–far more wonderful and intelligent than I–are in the same boat. In fact, I’m one of the lucky ones because I’ve managed to expand the range of things I can do far beyond just what I went to school for, such as making soap. My friend Cathy forwarded me this email from a scientist with a PhD who is wondering if he’s the alone in this. Here’s what he had to say:

Last night the PBS NewsHour profiled several Ph.D. instructors who were working as adjunct faculty, receiving no benefits and surviving on teaching whatever isolated courses they could scrounge.  One young Ph.D. graduate, a single mother who genuinely loved her field, was surviving on food stamps and assistance from her family.

I would like to know if there are people here on ECOLOG who are enduring similar circumstances–who followed their dreams, put in the grueling hard work as graduate students, and are now genuinely struggling to survive in their field, or simply survive at all.  I would like to know who here on ECOLOG has been caught up in the corporate-model conversion to adjunct teaching which has become increasingly common throughout the U.S., and whether any of you feel you can continue in your chosen disciplines.

I am interested in neither condemnation nor plastic platitudes from the comfortably established, the self-satisfied and the lordly-wise.  If you feel entitled to lecture from your keyboard on how and where these people went wrong, then don’t.  I’m not looking for that, and they aren’t either.

But if you are like the young Ph.D.s profiled in the news segment–or even someone not so young, and caught up in the same circumstances–please contact me off-list, because I’d really like to hear from you.

This is the grim reality people. Never in a million years would I tell someone to go to college unless they were absolutely guaranteed a good job once they graduated. Nevertheless, I’ve made my peace with the fact that I may have to give up my beloved apartment and leave Connelly. It may or may not be in the cards and right now it’s out of my hands for the most part. If I don’t get the job, I have Yellowstone waiting for me. Andrew is coming back and we are promised double the hours and several backpacking trips! That should make for some damn fine blogging! It’s a win-win.

herford cowPeace out, peeps!

Uncategorized

Perspective

2012-05-07 13.24.41 It’s been a little while since I’ve posted so I thought I would check in.  As of today, I’m a free agent when it comes to work– which is a completely scary thought. This past Sunday, I was lifting one of my patients (who is heavier than me–dumb idea, right?) and I literally burst the blood vessels in my head. Throughout the day, this turned into the mother of all migraines and I knew I should probably consider a trip to the hospital.  I tried to contact my supervisor to tell her of my situation but she never takes her phone with her and/or never answers so I knew I had to stick it out because Alzheimer’s patients aren’t safe to leave alone. So I put the needs of my patients first and worked through the pain for a grand total of 14 hours. This is not the first time that this has happened to me in this job. Usually the migraines are from not stopping to eat or properly hydrate but sadly, I have burst blood vessels in my head before because of lifting beyond my capacity. My supervisor (actually her husband) showed up four hours late to relieve me and found me a complete mess. By the time he got home, I could barely open my eyes and I was on the verge of vomiting. The pain was beyond comprehension. Eventually, I made it home, took two Aleve (my saving grace) and went to sleep with the complete joy of knowing I had to do it all again the next day. Monday comes and my head is still killing me, of course. I go to work and tell my supervisor what happened so she does the lifting for me that morning. The only problem is that she puts the patient on her couch without a pee-pad under her so she of course wets the couch. This becomes my fault because I should have been able to know when she was going to pee and lift her to get her changed. So I ended the day on Monday knowing that I had to choose between my health or my job.

To make matters very much worse, on my drive home from work I see a very fresh accident up ahead. There are about five fire trucks (presumably because it happened about a mile from a fire station) on the side of the road, no ambulance or police yet, and some people have pulled off. I keep waiting for someone to either direct me around the accident or tell me to stop but no one does. So I slowly keep on driving. I see what I think is a bumper in the road so I cautiously swerve around just a few feet from it. Then I realize that it’s not a bumper, it is, in fact, a person. I stopped my car right there next to him and froze in a complete state of shock and panic. Most of his dead body was on the left side of my car, one of his legs was on the right side of my car, his shoes were ahead of me. And my car is literally stopped on the fifteen-foot blood streak made by his head being smeared on the pavement. I couldn’t believe any of it. There were five or more first responders there and no one was managing the situation. This person’s body was just alone out in the middle of a dark, unlit, country road for someone (like me) to hit again. He wasn’t covered up, there was no one directing me around his body, there was no one there slowing me down, nothing. It felt like a complete disregard for life. I spent all day yesterday in bed basically. I just felt so lost. This morning, I finally searched for the accident to see what exactly happened. He was a 19-year old boy riding his bicycle. That’s all they know. It barely made the news.

2012-05-07 13.24.29It can all be taken away from us so fast and yet we live our lives like it’s forever. We’re one of the most intelligent species on the planet, yet we’re completely stupid. We worry too much, we’re afraid of anything that is even remotely meaningful, and we put everything off…even our happiness. What the hell are we waiting for? I just don’t understand sometimes. Clearly, I haven’t got any solid answers because I basically gave myself a brain aneurysm over a job. Once again, I must pick myself up and dust myself off and you think it would get easier but it doesn’t. And I’m not ashaimed to say that right now, I’m not okay. I AM NOT OKAY. And that is okay to say. None of us will ever be perfect so let’s stop striving for something that doesn’t exist. Sorry for such a depressing post. I promise the next one will be on the happier side. Pinky swear. Now, I’m gunna go make some lemonade out of these lemons because lemonade is freakin’ delicious!