7 Good Reasons to Do Farm Work Abroad

April 4, 2016
travel, working abroad
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.

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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.

About Chantal Simons

Chantal SimonsBorn and raised in the Netherlands, having lived worked and traveled in Australia for the past two years I’m now on the journey of a life time, riding my motorbike from Australia to the Netherlands. On this solo journey it’s my mission to inspire others to get out and live their dreams. Writing has become my favorite medium to accomplish this.

One thought on “7 Good Reasons to Do Farm Work Abroad

  1. Avatar
    Graham
    April 7, 2016
    Reply

    Chantal
    As the ‘farmer’ on one of the farms you worked on … let me tell you about what farming has meant to me.
    Though my family background is all farming, I have for more than 40 years (mostly) earned my living in the city where I applied skills learned at a university about things that were not a part of my life growing up.
    Except that …. in the strangest city places the most useful insights about the most complicated problems seem to come to me from what I learned (or didn’t learn) growing up on New Zealand farms.
    Above all … the importance of work. And the life lesson that work is (mostly) pretty easy when you understand that nothing very important is done without it and you learn to just relax into it. If you have a hundred post holes to dig – get started, work out the most efficient way of doing things, pace yourself, enjoy your surroundings (and companions) and pretty soon it will be done. No different to a scientist constructing a data set when you think about it.
    Lesson 2 … DO sweat the small stuff. The integrity of the whole depends on its parts. Some are more important than others, but it is not always obvious which. Until you figure it out, do everything as close to perfectly as you can. This applies as much to developing a set of cash flows as it does to moving cattle through a yard.
    Lesson 3 … people are people wherever you are – and more like cattle than we might like to think (just not as consistent and predictable). People (and cows) respond to your listening, your respect and your own contribution in predictable ways – across cultures (and even species boundaries).
    Lesson 4 (the final one I promise) … the rewards for effort are great. The magic of seeing a job completed is the same everywhere – if (perhaps) more beautiful in the natural environment of a good farm. Completing a fencing projects feels very like completing a commercial transaction to me. Satisfaction with the milestone achieved. Confidence (one hopes) that the fence will hold up to animal pressure and falling trees limbs or the deal structure will respond well to subsequent events.
    So farms are like life and I agree with you … anyone is the better for spending time on a farm!

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