Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our summer - belated update!

We've decided to give a short update on what we did this past summer/early fall for those of you we've been out of touch with. 

Though I passed boards and received my Iowa nursing license in June, I knew we were planning to leave with the Peace Corps soon and wasn't able to find any short-term nursing jobs that were appropriate for a new grad like me.  So I began my summer working 3 days a week at Tabletop Farm in Nevada, IA. I mainly focused on harvesting, processing and packing veggies for CSA (community supported agriculture) distribution, though I sometimes got to do planting, weeding and other things. This was a good job for me because I got to help out a great new farm during their first year (and got to be their first ever employee). I found a lot of my skills from my previous life as a produce manager/worker to be applicable too.

At the end of July the wonderful folks at Turtle Farm, where Darrin was working, let me join their team two days a week. In this way I became a full-time organic farm worker.  In my spare time I did some eldercare, yardwork, plasma donation, babysitting and even a little bit of cooking to help a friend out with her catering jobs. 

Working at Turtle Farm
My last day at Tabletop - and first time driving the tractor

Like Colette, it would have been difficult for me to find full-time employment out of college because we were planning to leave for two years. Luckily, organic vegetable farms always need seasonal help, and what a perfect way to prepare to serve as an Agricultural Extension agent in the Peace Corps. Especially since many farmers in the world cannot afford to purchase chemicals for their crops.

In June I started working full-time on Turtle Farm CSA in Granger, Iowa. Turtle Farm grows organic fruits and vegetables, and distributes them weekly to almost 185 farm members. With a team made up of brave and outstanding people our duties were many and included: fertilizing, planting, weeding (and more weeding), trellising, harvesting, processing, more weeding, packing CSA boxes, bending, squatting, lunging, and weeding. In addition to that I found time (and energy) to substitute-teach yoga classes for Ames Parks and Recreation, cook some great meals, pack our belongings, have a large garage sale, and spend time with Colette!

Covering the fall garlic planting at Turtle Farm
Taking a much needed break!
Now that you are caught up, we can continue with our regularly scheduled blogging!

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Leap and the net will appear"

I am not sure we have told everyone, but our departure date has been delayed two months. We are now leaving early March 2012 to train with the new Peace Corps volunteers of Senegal. So the first 3 months of our adventure will be in and near Dakar, Senegal. After our training period we will then make The Gambia our home for two years.

This new arrangement leaves us with January and February to revel in our states of homelessness, joblessness, and anxiousness. We are really starting to understand the difficulty in not having our own place to call home, but this is part of our reason for doing this in the first place. We wanted to be liberated, free of stuff, thrown into new environments with new and different resources to work with. This is the start of our journey together and we must learn to let go.

Some of our friends and family have expressed concern for us and many people have asked us if we are angry at the Peace Corps for delaying our departure when we had already committed to leaving our apartment and jobs.  It was frustrating at first, especially since we had so little money to live off of until our departure, but we both agreed that this was a situation that challenges us to really live our belief that a person is in no way the sum of their house, their material belongings, their current job situation or any other transient circumstances. We are lucky to have this time to truly come to appreciate our families and friends who do so much to support us and our goals. We're looking forward to someday being in the position of being able to "pay it forward" (and backward as well). 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Packing our lives

Over the past month we have been packing up all of the things we don't use on a daily basis and taking care of little details here and there. Our car decided to break down a few weeks shy of the time we hoped to sell it and we ended up parting with it for a fraction of what we'd hoped to get if it was still running. This coming week will be the hardest though - or beloved cat, Edie, will be moving across town to a new home.  She will be an entertaining and loving companion for the woman who is caring for her, but we are going to miss her a lot.

All of these things have been helping to liberate us and make our transition to a vagabond lifestyle a lot smoother. At the end of this month we will be packing up the rest of our things, and with the help of my awesome parents moving them to Minnesota to store in a bedroom for the next 2.5 years. From there we will be making our way across the eastern U.S. by train and mega-bus. Then the next chapter begins...