7 Good Reasons to Do Farm Work Abroad
Working in a different country can be a greatly enriching experience. But I don’t imagine you ever thought of becoming a farmer, right? You don’t like the feeling of dirt under your fingernails, or the smell of animals? Here are seven good reasons to try doing farm work abroad, despite any initial hesitations.
1. You’ll gain a greater appreciation for food
Ever wondered how much effort it takes to get those deliciously sweet strawberries onto the supermarket shelves? How about the big orange pumpkin for Halloween? Or what’s behind the making of your Sunday roast? Working on a farm will give you a real appreciation for food. Not just the taste and the smell of it, but the effort it takes to grow it. From preparing the soil to seeding the plants to watering on time to making sure to cover the strawberry beds with nets so birds can’t eat them to picking them at the right time and packaging them carefully. The same goes for meat production. You have to move the animals on time so that they have enough grass to eat and water to drink. You’ll learn there is much more to producing food than just watching it grow.
2. You’ll learn new knowledge and skills
Did you know that the shell of a chicken’s egg gets thinner and more fragile the older the chicken is? Did you know that tomatoes are normally harvested when they are still green, then ripen off the plant? Did you know that having dogs close to the chickens will keep foxes away? Do you have any idea how an electric fence works? Working on a farm will give you a great deal of knowledge about things you never knew before, and you will learn new skills that are useful in other parts of your life.
3. You’ll experience a family environment
Many farms you can work on abroad will supply you with a bed and food. This is great news, firstly because it will save you some money, and secondly because you will live with a family. While travelling for a longer time, we often miss a sense of home, a nice family environment. When you work on a farm you have the chance to be part of such a family.
4. You’ll get to work with other travellers
Chances are you won’t be the only international worker on the farm. Most farms employing travellers will have several people of different nationalities working at any time. It’s nice to meet people from all over the world when you stay in hostels, but having the chance to work together will give you a much better opportunity to really get to know each other. While pulling weeds out from between the cucumbers, you will have an interesting conversation with a Japanese girl about work and family traditions in Japan. Later, while moving cattle to the next paddock, you might find yourself in a heated discussion with an Italian about the importance of putting the right pasta sauce with the right pasta. If you have the opportunity to cook your meals together, you may find yourself in international food heaven! Japanese miso soup for starters, homemade Italian gnocchi as a main course and traditional Dutch apple pie with ice cream for dessert. And the English girl will take care of a steady beer supply!
5. You can play around with heavy machinery
Ever wondered how to drive a tractor? How to cut down a tree with a chainsaw? Always wanted to cruise around on a driveable lawnmower? Thought about breaking rocks in two with one of those a massive drills? When you work on a farm there is a good chance you will learn to handle some of these powerful machines.
6. You’ll get a good work-out
You get up early and walk to the chicken house to get the eggs. Then have your breakfast and walk to the furthest paddock to move the cattle. Now one of the calves manages to escape from the group and you are running around, waving your arms to get the curious little one reunited with its mum. Later, to fix the irrigation system, you have to dig a trench and load some rocks into a trailer. To harvest the pumpkins (which weigh a few kilos each) you lift them and carry them to a storage area. Then you get some compost and spread it with a shovel around the vegetable garden. You get a really good all-round work out while simply doing your job.
7. You get to be outdoors
At home you might spend your days at a desk, behind a computer in an air-conditioned, uninspiring office. On a farm, you spend all your time outside. In spring you’ll notice more and more flowers appearing each morning. In autumn you will see the colours of the trees changing day by day. In summer you might even get yourself an enviable tan and some sun-bleached blond hairs. In winter you will see the sunrise every morning, and when you’re cold after a long day of work, there will be a welcoming wood fire and a bowl of steaming soup to warm you up again.