Internship Retrospective: What I Gained
Well, another season has ended. I finished up my internship at Larkhaven Farm at the end of September, and am now settling back into life in Portland. Reverse culture shock, the effects of dry versus humid air on my skin, and What Comes Next may or may not be topics of upcoming posts. For now, I’ll talk about how I feel and what I have gained as a result of spending six months up in The Middle of Nowhere, North Central Washington State.
I already miss the farm, the daily interaction with the animals, the incredible view from everywhere on the farm, the fresh air, the getting sweaty and dirty and feeling useful, being part of a greater community, and all that good stuff. City life is just a bit more harsh than I remembered, with its noises and smells. I miss the awesome dogs, the amazing food, and the friends I made in the Okanogan.
Some things I gained this summer:
1. I can now put “affineuse” on a resume. Whether anyone will know what that means is another concern! (Basically, I’m a cheese-washer and -turner.) This wasn’t something I expected to learn, so it’s a bonus!
2. I now have the experience of being responsible for care and feeding of chickens, ducks, hogs, and lambs. That was amazing, and was exactly what I was looking for.
3. I learned how to properly build fencing! I used tools made for fencing and learned from someone with decades of experience. This was great. I can now install A- and H-braces, t-stakes, and discern between and put up different sorts of fencing (for different animals, etc.). This is a skill that is super empowering, considering how important fencing is on a farm, and how expensive it can be.
4. I made cheese for the first time, ever! I made both feta and a farmhouse cheddar, which I am looking forward to eating once it’s aged.
5. Quite by random, I got to assist a couple of friends in making amber ale and a couple different kinds of wine. Very cool, and demystifying.
6. I learned to can, both water-bath and pressure canning. Also awesome and demystifying.
7. I had a successful tomato season, thanks mostly to the weather. It counts for a lot.
8. I fell completely and deeply in love with some dogs for the first time in my life. I think about them every day! Hannah, Parker, Levi, Hattie, and Leo — I’m missing you lots!
9. I met a lot of wonderful other ‘young people’ — interns and young farmers in the Okanogan with a lot in common and great big hearts. I miss them and look forward to reuniting with them along the way. (I’ve already been able to meet up with one friend here in Portland, and another is coming to visit in a couple of weeks, which is great.)
10. I have more insight into what I do and don’t want on my future farm/homestead, how I do and don’t want to do things, and what’s out there and possible!
What’s next? Stay tuned….