Ranch House rises with the sun and starts each morning with farm chores. Throughout the semester, each cabin will rotate through farm chores for two weeks at a time.
Eliana, Jessica, Abigail, Jo, Francesca and Claire of Ranch shared a few highlights about their first week on the farm.
“Every morning as the rest of campus sleeps soundly, five alarms go off simultaneously in Ranch House, and we all roll out of bed. We walk across the silent campus in our flannel shirts and jeans, Jo and Francesca dragging the compost cart behind them. It is foggy and misty, but when we get to the barn the sun shines through the fog into the aisle, illuminating pieces of dust, straw, and the frizz in our hair.
After helping Jessica move the meat chickens, I feed the laying hens. In our busy schedule, it is relaxing to be fully alone. It is a good time to reflect on my days while the chickens gently coo as I fill their grain and water buckets.” –Eliana Langer, New York NY
“I am responsible for moving the meat chickens to a fresh patch of grass for the day and giving them fresh food and water. I make sure that they are well nourished, comfortable, and happy. There is something truly gratifying about carrying a sixteen-pound bucket of grain, filling up a trough, and seeing the chickens line up to dig in. Their bowed heads, in two neat organized rows on either side of the trough, make me feel like I have started off my day doing something that others have instantaneously benefited from, even if they are truly just chickens.” – Jessica Chen, Somers NY
“A few days ago I was moving the cows and sheep from one grazing field to another so they would have fresh grass to eat. Almost all of the animals cooperated and eagerly rushed through the passageway I had created between the fields. There was one cow, however, who resisted the move and continued to graze in the old field. She was pretty far from the passageway, and I could not think of how to get her through.
I decided to lead her over to the gate by walking her, instead of clapping to call her like usual. Luckily, she followed me when I walked by her side, and got so excited when she neared the passageway that she jumped right through it. Although it started as a frustrating situation, it was awesome to fix the problem myself and see all of the animals happy in the end. “ – Abigail Taubman, New York NY
“I do not fully wake up each morning until I dig my pitchfork into the heaping pile of compost at the farm and become engulfed in a fetid stream of decomposition. Composting is the finest of the arts. Each day Francesca and I tend to our three living, bacteria-infested babies. We take their temperature and groom them thoroughly. I could not be happier to wake up at the crack of dawn to bask in the glory of our compost pile.” – Jo Canino, Seattle WA
“When you think of compost, you think “smelly” and “gross.” But as I have learned, this is not true! I have been on compost duty with Jo for over a week and have learned that compost is a scientific balance that only gets smelly when something does not go as it should in that brown pile of mush. I have become much more conscious bout what goes into the compost versus slop bucket, because I am the one who mixes it up every morning. “ – Francesca Governali, Cape Elizabeth ME
“I admire Sal’s eyelashes as the morning sunrays shine on her warm face, highlighting the white patch on her nose. As I stroke her cheek and give her my morning greeting, I think back to the first day of farm chores when I was introduced to her. “Look how relaxed and mellow she is right now,” Megan told me. “You can always check the position of her eyes and ears to tell what her mood is.” I now do that every day, along with trying to solve my daily mystery of guessing what she is thinking while I groom her and carry on my one-way conversation. I have been at Chewonki for about a week now, and have already learned and experienced so many new things, including how great it feels to be trusted by a horse.” – Claire Longcope, Falmouth ME