10 Things I’m Going to Miss on the Farm

The past three months have flown by. And with that being said, I only have one more week here at Frisky Girl Farm. I have truly grown to love life on the farm and all that comes with it. I have learned so much, not only about farming, but about life too (and from some of the best people!)  To celebrate my last week here on the farm, here are ten things that I am going to miss the most when I leave next week.

  1. The way Mount Si looks in the morning before the sun comes up and, in the evening, when the sun goes down

My bladder has been the result of some of the best views of Mount Si (Read about one here!). Early in the morning before the sun comes up is absolutely beautiful. It’s just starting to become light and there is fog everywhere. You can’t really see the mountain, except for the silhouette in purple and gray hues. And in the evening, it’s my absolute favorite, because the sun hits it just perfectly creating hues of pinks and purples reflected on the mountain. Another thing I love is the fact that I’ve never seen the mountain in the same light twice.

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  1. My yurt/Intern Village

The fact that I can say that I’ve camped more consecutive days outside than my brother, a boy scout, is an accomplishment to me. Not only is it the cutest little house you’ve ever seen, but it’s become my place of refuge. I hide from the cold here, write, read and listen to podcasts. I also really love our little intern area, which we refer to as Intern Village. It’s the center of our activity when we aren’t working. It has been the perfect home within the past three months.

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  1. The way that the soil feels when it’s just been tilled

One of my roles on the farm is transplanting new crops into beds. We rotate the crops, so we have to mow down the original crop in that particular bed. Then we fertilize it and till it. In certain blocks of the field, there is the perfect soil, which means that there is little of the previous crop leftover and the soil is so soft. It is my absolute favorite thing when the soil is like this.

  1. Free Vegetables

In the next week or so, one will probably here me ask “You mean, I actually have to BUY vegetables? From the STORE?” (I will probably ask this at least once a day. And friends in PA, be prepared for me to complain every time I am in the grocery store). I am very upset about the loss of being able to go pick vegetables from my literal backyard. Need some lettuce for dinner? No problem, pick some extra during harvest! Need an onion for your pasta? No problem, just go harvest it right out of the bed. There are very few things we don’t have in abundance here. Additionally, no vegetable will even come close to tasting as good as the ones here do. And for that, I am sad. But I am thankful to have been able to taste the difference.

  1. Wearing my overalls around the farm

When I first got this internship, upon seeing the pictures of previous interns, I knew I wanted to get overalls. But it was such a challenge. First, they are extremely expensive if you try order online. And there isn’t much of a selection. Overalls are coming back into the fashion trends, so finding ones that were meant for farm and industrial work was difficult. Secondly, there is a limited market for work overalls for women. Not only did I have a difficult time online, but also in stores. My mom took me to tractor supply and the only overalls we could find were men’s. So, I gave up. However, my first visit to Boomerang, I found the perfect capri length overalls complete with a million different pockets. They were perfect for holding harvest ties, crawling through paths in between green bean plants, and for cold mornings. Best of all, I felt like Meryl Streep/Lily James in Mamma Mia.

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  1. Herbie and Lolo

It has been several years since our last dog, Gracie died. I missed having a dog around, I just didn’t know how much. Our dogs, growing up were gross (and I’m sure that all dog owners can understand what I mean by this). Our dogs, during the summer, would dig in the yard for grubs and then bring them back to us, roll in disgusting things of who knows what and even eat their own poop. Here at the farm, we have a two-year-old dog named Herbie, and Lolo, who is a cat. Despite the fact that both animals do just as gross of things as my dogs did, like killing birds and tossing half dead voles through the air like a toy, they are the most loyal and loveable animals. And now I want a puppy (Watch out Mom and Dad, you never know!) (Just kidding, kind of).

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  1. Harvesting green onions (and fennel, I guess), trellising tomatoes and doing the paper pot transplanter

I am the queen of green onions. I love harvesting them (despite the fact that they make me cry every time I cut them for market. I have a crying towel for this reason. Also, it’s only me that cries during green onions. I must have weak tear ducts). I have a love hate relationship with fennel. It is the hardest to harvest with its deep roots and wispy bits that usually poke me in the eye. I also love trellising tomatoes, because there is something extremely satisfying about plucking suckers off the armpits of the tomato branches. Lastly, I love the paper pot transplanter, because it is also satisfying when you go in a straight line and everything looks nice (it’s also really great exercise). Though I have many things I love about farming, these are some of my absolute favorites.

  1. Riding my bike into town every weekend

Because I don’t own a car, I bought a bike for this summer. My mom was the one who found it, a Huffy Beach Cruiser. It was light blue, had a basket and I loved it. So, I ordered it. Throughout my summer, it has taken me to Snoqualmie and all-over North Bend. I have used it to go wash my clothes, go to the library and go thrift shopping. I have also learned that a beach cruiser does not like speed or hills, so that was a challenge (but my leg muscles look great because of it). Luckily, North Bend is mostly flat. Despite that, I have thoroughly enjoyed my rides and will miss them when I leave.

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  1. The Flowers

If you know me, you know I love flowers. You can find tons of pictures of flowers on my Instagram and Facebook. Plus, at home, I am always tempted to buy a bouquet from the farmer’s market, wherever I happen to be at the time. Being able to live right next to a bed of dahlias as well as waking up to a meadow of poppies, marigolds, zinnias and sunflowers is always a recipe for happiness. I also have learned to make bouquets, even though they are a lot harder than they look (the key to success is to ask whether the bouquet you are currently making brings you joy. If it doesn’t, you fix it until it does!).

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  1. My Farm Family

Most of all, I will miss the people that I work with every day. We all live together, work together, eat together, and laugh together. Some of my favorite moments this summer have been eating dinner on the front porch of our kitchen, watching the sun go down and laughing about our days or biking to get ice cream on Mondays. I have learned so much from each of them and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be in this beautiful place together doing something we all have a passion for. They will be the hardest thing of all to say goodbye to.

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So here’s to my last week in North Bend, the things I have learned this summer, and the people I have met. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and to have grown in a million different ways.

Stronger

Yesterday, I was wandering downtown North Bend on my way to Pioneer Coffee (my new favorite coffee shop recommended by Karlijn). When stopping in one of the gift shops, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. We don’t have a mirror on the farm, so the only time I really get to see myself is either when I accidentally open the camera on my phone and it’s facing me, or when I go to the bathroom in the porta potty (ours is actually called a “Spiffy Biffy”. I don’t know what that means). There is a small mirror on the door that I have to stand on my tip toes to even see my face in (short people problems). Nevertheless, the person staring back at me was not the one that had arrived in May. She was still short (ha), but tan from being out in the sun every day and strong.

When I arrived in May, I don’t quite think I realized how much manual labor farming actually entailed. Well, I knew, but knowing beforehand and actually experiencing are sometimes two different things. I couldn’t carry heavy equipment; I moved a lot slower and my whole body just hurt. All the time. Additionally, when I arrived, it was rainy and cold, which was a different challenge. In my mind, May was supposed to mean summer (Never mind the fact that I live in Northwest Pennsylvania where we have lake effect snow and it’s cold and dark so many months out of the year. What’s one more?).

I pride myself on my ability to be flexible and adaptable in new situations. It’s one of the reasons why I like to travel. It doesn’t take long for me to get used to new environments and adapt to new cultures. But the farming environment was different. While I loved being in a rural community (I am a small community kind of person), I couldn’t quite keep up with the other interns on the farm. My body just couldn’t do what theirs could yet (keyword: yet). And I struggled with this.

Looking back now, what I didn’t realize was the fact that this was my first time doing manual labor and it was okay to not keep up. This was an adjustment that didn’t just happen overnight, even if I wanted it to. It would take time. Another thing I didn’t realize was that adjusting when traveling is also something that doesn’t happen overnight. When I was in Senegal, getting used to the language took me at least the first month. And even then, it wasn’t until I was fully immersed during my internship in Keur Samba Gueye that I was fully confident in my French speaking abilities. No, I still wasn’t perfect, but I had made progress. Both of these experiences were the same in a sense.

With almost three months under my belt, looking back, I can finally see the progress that I have made. This is not only due to the fact that I can do things that I couldn’t before, but also from the encouragement from the other four women on the farm. I can move faster, cycle harder (this is significant, because I own a cruiser bike that doesn’t like speed or hills) and carry things that I couldn’t before. I can make it all the way to the compost pile without putting the heavy bucket down or having to switch arms 7 times along the way. I can till more than just 4 beds in the new field. I can carry 4 t posts to the tomatoes opposed to only one. But most of all, I can be proud of myself for the things I can do.

No, I won’t have huge arm muscles when you see me next (my leg muscles are another story however), but I am stronger than when you saw me last, in more ways than one.

 

 

Wandering Washington with my Grandparents

This past weekend, my grandparents drove all the way from North Carolina to see me. They drove for nine days, stopping in various towns across the United States to coincide with my weekend. I was at market on Saturday in Issaquah with my boss Ashley, so they came to see me there.

After I finished work, they came to the farm, where they met my farm family. I was able to show them around, showcasing my knowledge of various plants and farming practices (this has drastically changed within the past three months I’ve been here). I then packed up to head outside the farm for a weekend of exploring Washington (or at least the Seattle area).

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Our first stop was Snoqualmie Falls. The Falls are close to the farm, only about a 20-minute drive from the farm, if not less (I once planned to bike there, but it’s a 35-minute ride. With my little cruiser, I would probably not make it). If you have seen Twin Peaks, this is one of the places that was in the series (I haven’t seen it yet, so I couldn’t tell you the reference point). There is a hotel, the Salish Lodge, that peeks over the top of the falls, supposedly also shown in Twin Peaks (again, lack of reference point). There are two ways to see the Falls. First, by train. You can catch the train in Snoqualmie on the weekends during the summer only. It will take you to North Bend, through Snoqualmie, then to the falls (We didn’t ride it because it was Thomas the Tank Engine weekend. Tickets were obviously sold out). Secondly, by car. There are various parking lots available, but on weekends, they do tend to be more crowded, as it is a touristy area. I saw people it seemed from everywhere (There was even a wedding occurring on one of the greenspaces along the trail down to see the falls). The falls are pretty, but they are definitely smaller than Niagara Falls, which is close to my home in Pennsylvania. Not that I would compare the two, they are each different in their own way. I think it would have been even more exciting though, if I had watched Twin Peaks (Fall semester goals).

After searching around for food options (which are kind of limited for some reason. There aren’t a whole lot of places to eat for a seemingly touristy area), we had dinner at Lorenzo’s Pizza and More, which is in the newer part of Snoqualmie. The Snoqualmie that I am familiar with is the downtown area, which has many shops, and of course, the coin laundry (Read my post on that here!). I hadn’t had pizza since probably May, so this was a welcome change of food scenery. My diet mainly consists of rice or pasta with some variation of vegetables. Occasionally, I throw some chicken in there, but mostly vegetables (Read my post about food on the farm here!). Therefore, we had a Meat Lover’s pizza complete with cheese, ham, sausage, and bacon. It was delicious!

After dinner, we went to our hotel in Renton and began resting up for the next day. (I also had a chance to watch TV for the first time in almost 2 and a half months (I’m currently finishing up Season 6 of Nashville. I’m the kind of person who can only watch one tv show at a time (Don’t judge me))).

On Sunday (technically, my Saturday), we woke up and got ready to explore Seattle. Momaw was concerned about me not being able to sleep in, but my body was awake and ready to go by 5am (Yes, Mom. I am a morning person. Sometimes.).

Our first stop of the day was Pike Place Market. Walking in, I was instantly reminded of my time in Morocco. All the mornings I spend wandering through the medina with the vegetable and craft stalls. Except the difference was everyone was speaking English for the most part (There were a lot of tourists from all over here too, so you’ll catch a blip of another language every now and then). It was crowded and everyone was walking in a million different directions. It was so familiar, yet so different (No bargaining here unfortunately). There were also so many flower vendors lined up against the whole left side of the market. I was mesmerized by the huge flower bouquets that were so well put together (I have recently learned that putting together bouquets are MUCH harder than it looks). I especially loved the bouquets that included huge peonies in them, peonies are my favorite. At the corner of the market, was the famous Pike Place Fish Market. You could tell because of the small crowd surrounding it. There were two levels of the market, the lower level was where fish of all sizes were submerged in ice. The top level was where the workers were packaging orders to send off to customers. In front of the crowd, there was a man talking to customers and answering questions from the crowd. When we arrived, nothing was happening except for the men packaging the fish. Then all of the sudden, he threw a fish to the top level, which it was then thrown back down to him. He caught it right above this one girl in the crowd, who seemed pretty relieved that he did. Momaw didn’t have her camera ready, so she asked him to do it again. And he did! Eventually there was an order and we got to see the fish thrown for real rather than for show, like the last two times. I would never be able to catch a fish (In middle school, I was always put as goalie during the soccer unit in PE and so rather than catching it with my hands, I usually just got hit in the face. This also happened during the volleyball unit. Needless to say, I can’t catch). Also, in Pike Place Market is the original Starbucks. I love Starbucks. My friend Hunter got me hooked on it in high school. In turn, I got my parents both hooked on it. Usually when I’m home, my family goes to Starbucks and gets frappes no matter what season it is. I always have to order for my dad, even when I’m not there (He always tells my mom when she goes to order, “Whatever Sarah usually orders for me”. My mom never knows what that is). I didn’t go in this Starbucks though, because the line was long.

Our next stop was the Seattle Space Needle. The whole time I was there, I was reminded of my many experiences at Disney World (Large crowds, long lines, it was hot, looked like I stepped into Tomorrowland). My grandfather bought tickets for me and Momaw to go up in the Space Needle at 1:30. In the meantime, we explored the surrounding area. There were also many other attractions surrounding the Space Needle, including the Museum of Pop Culture, the Armory, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center. There’s also several little shops and a park. We were getting hungry, so we had hotdogs from a stand called Hotdogs in the Park (If you know me, you know I love hotdogs). At 1:30, we returned to the Space Needle entrance and we got in line for the elevator. We had to go through a security checkpoint and get a souvenir picture taken. Once we got to the elevator, we were crammed in with several other people, much like how I cram 30 bags of cut greens into a plastic bin for market (changed up the metaphors). It took only 41 seconds to get to the top floor (which was much faster than our hotel elevator which only went up 4 floors). The top floor has a wine and snack bar, then you step out into the observation area. It has slanted glass windows with an open-air ceiling, so when taking pictures, you can lean back into the city of Seattle. Everything was so small from above and you could even see Mount Rainier from a distance.  I took LOTS of pictures. The view was too beautiful not to. When we finished with the top floor, we walked down the stairs to the lower floor, which had the revolving observation area. This one was not open air; however, the view was just as beautiful. The floor also had see-through glass so that you could look down below. Momaw doesn’t like heights or the see-through glass. So, I had to hold her hand a couple times (that’s what granddaughters are for!). Once we were done, we took the elevator back down (still 41 seconds) and reunited with Grandfather for our next adventure.

Grandfather wanted me to see different parts of Washington, so we decided to go see Mount Rainier. The visitor’s center (or so we thought) was only an hour and a half away, so we drove that way until our cell phones lost service and we hit a dirt road. Along the way, Mount Rainier got bigger and more beautiful as we drove closer. We drove on the dirt road for at least 20 miles before we reached a campground with a beautiful lake. It wasn’t what we were expecting, but it was really beautiful to discover, nonetheless. Apparently, if we had wanted to go to the visitor’s center, we would have needed to take the other entrance. Oh well. It was memorable and I got to spend time with my grandparents (even if it was freaking out about how close Grandfather was driving to the edge of the cliff when going around the curves or laughing about how dusty the car was due to the dirt road).

Unfortunately, Monday was the day that my grandparents would have to leave me, but I still had a full day ahead with them. Momaw loves thrift shopping, so I took her to Issaquah to Value Village, where I have been able to find some good stuff. Then we headed down to Snoqualmie.

As you may have gathered from my previous posts (Check it out here!), I love Snoqualmie. It’s very small, but cute. I took them to the Northwest Railroad Museum, which was open (This is where you can take the train to the Falls). They have a couple trains on display to look at. I also walked down to some of the shops, though unfortunately, most of them are closed on Mondays. So, we headed to North Bend.

North Bend is also small but has a couple of shops and places to wander though. We started off in Boomerang, my favorite thrift store, then headed downtown. Downtown is where Twede’s Cafe (Another Twin Peaks filming location) is located. It is open for business and a lot of people go there to eat. We also went in Selah Gifts, which is a cute little gift shop that has a lot of Twin Peaks gifts and other things. North Bend also has outlet malls, which we wandered around for a little bit until dinner time.

For dinner, I took them to one of my favorite restaurants Rio Bravo. Mexican food is something that I always get with Momaw when I am home, so I thought that this would be a good place to go.

After dinner, it was time to take me back to the farm and say goodbye. I get to see my family only a little bit at a time, so it makes it harder every time I have to do so. But I am so appreciative for the time that I do get to spend with them. I am so thankful for my grandparents for driving all this way to see me, it truly meant a lot. They are in Arizona now, visiting with my great uncle and aunt and will return to North Carolina shortly before I return!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my weekend and looking at the pictures. What are some of your favorite places in Seattle?

 

Sustainability on the Farm

Living on a farm means that everything that I put in the soil must be biodegradable. From toothpaste to shampoo to soap. It has also gotten me to think about ways that I can be more sustainable in my own life to help the environment, even if it is just a little. Chances are that you will already be familiar with most of these things. However, there is always time to add more things into your own life! (By the way, in no means am I an expert on any of these things!)

  1. Biodegradable Soap/Shampoo/Laundry Detergent/Dish Soap

At the farm, our shower and sink drains run directly into the meadow of flowers that surround our bathroom and kitchen sheds. This means that everything we wash down goes directly into the soil. Therefore, it is important to make sure the ingredients of the soap we are using is biodegradable. I have personally been using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, which can be used for literally everything and anything. I use it for body wash and then as a laundry detergent. Avalon Organics is another great option, especially for shampoo and conditioner. It takes a little getting used to, because it doesn’t lather like other shampoos do. I bought both products from TJ Maxx, but you can also find them online or in grocery stores like QFC.

  1. Reusable Bags (Or in my case, reusing paper bags)

The best solution to this is to have reusable bags in the first place (I didn’t bring any with me, therefore we have this solution). A lot of places in North Bend give paper bags when you buy groceries, such as QFC or Trader Joe’s. Instead of throwing them away, reuse them (and if you do throw them away, recycle them)! Take them into the store with you and hand them to the cashier. You might even walk away with less bags than you brought in if you’re lucky (this only happened to me once unfortunately). We also have been using the bags as trashcan liners and personal trashcans inside our tents. There are unlimited uses! You can also sew or buy fabric bags to reuse over again. These can be found at any grocery store. TJ Maxx also has some pretty ones (Can you tell what my favorite store is?).

  1. Refillable Water Bottle

Working on the farm means I must drink a lot of water. I sweat a lot. Personally, I have a Nalgene water bottle (with Allegheny College on the side of course) that is indestructible (My roommate is a destroyer of water bottles. During our freshman year of college, I think she broke at least five water bottles. Nalgene is the only one that has survived since then, thus proving the point that it is the most indestructible water bottle in my opinion). On the other hand, there are many different types of water bottles that will fit your interest and price range. All you need is the bottle and you just add water from the tap. No repeatedly buying water bottles from the grocery store necessary, thus saving large amounts of plastic!

  1. Bamboo Toothbrush

Bamboo toothbrushes last a long time and more importantly, are biodegradable. I love my bamboo toothbrush! I got mine free from school, but there are plenty of great websites you can order one from!

  1. Recycle

If you don’t do anything else, at least do this. And there are multitudes of ways to do it too. First, setting aside your plastics, glass, and cardboard items (Make sure the type in question is accepted) and taking them to a recycling facility or putting them in your blue recycle trash can. Another way is finding new uses for glass jars or paper and plastic bags. I have been using my glass jars from my pasta sauce as a container for my sugar or as a vase for our flowers (By the way, it’s flower season!).

  1. Thrift/Consignment Shopping

This is my favorite activity. I grew up buying clothes from thrift stores and continue it into my independent life too. There are some really great things to be found as well. You will most definitely save money and you never know what you might find. Also, take your old stuff to thrift stores. It is indeed true what they say, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Here are some of my favorite places to find things in various locations (Including the internet!).

Boomerang, North Bend, Washington

Value Village, Issaquah, Washington

Special Treasures, Statesville, North Carolina

Ooh La La Consignment Shop, Meadville, Pennsylvania

ThredUp

Poshmark

Groovy Thrift Finds

  1. Bike

I bought a bike specifically for my internship here, because I don’t have access to a car. But luckily, a lot of people ride bikes around here. Not only is it good for exercise, but it is also great for the environment. Plus, there are all kinds of bikes that you can find that fit your style and desired use! Fellow Intern Krista found an excellent bike from a bike consignment shop in Issaquah and there are always bikes being dropped off at thrift stores. You don’t have to pay full price so long as you find your perfect fit!

  1. Compost

On the farm, we compost a lot. From food scraps to leaves to the suckers we prune from the tomato plants. All of this goes in a compost bin instead of the trashcan. My parents did this in our old house, putting all of our compost in a big bin and eventually using it on our garden.

Like I mentioned before, chances are that you already know most or all of these things. Let it be a reminder that you can incorporate things like this into your lifestyle. Every little bit helps the environment. What are some of the things you do or plan on doing?

In the meantime, here are some other great blog posts about how to be sustainable!

Easy and Affordable Ways to Create a More Sustainable and Eco Friendly Beauty Routine- Molly Catherine

Simple Tips for Sustainable Fashion- Don’t Give A Jam

5 Steps to A More Sustainable Lifestyle- Books and Peonies

 

The Seed From 7th Grade

I was not born a farmer. If you ask my parents, they would tell you horror stories about me as a child and gardening. They probably would tell you not to put the two together (I think they are still upset about the time that I accidentally pulled up the Pink Ice plants in the front yard. To me, they looked like weeds and were obstructing my view of the dirt).

In seventh grade, I attended a science camp at Catawba College. I had applied my sixth-grade year and got rejected, but my dad made me apply again. I got in the second time. This camp was about fostering an interest in environmental science and biology in girls. I loved being there. I was in a group whose mascot was a turtle (This is where my love of turtles came from). I had the best camp counselors. I remember their names still, Miss Laura and Miss Jessica, both of which were college students at the time. I learned so much that week. I learned about trapping and marking turtles, invasive species, whether the energy efficient cars were better for the environment, bird watching and identifying, conserving the environment and more. We also challenged ourselves to eat all our food in order to minimize the waste that we produced (It was always intimidating to have food still on your plate and everyone eyeing you to make sure that you indeed ate it). That week changed the way I thought about science, which at the time, was not my strongest subject. This camp was also the reason that inspired me to create my own garden (to read about that, click here). It was the first time that I got my hands dirty and enjoyed it (At least during my preteen years. When I was younger, it was a little different).

Nevertheless, I did not end up in the natural sciences field (I thought about being a botanist for a few seconds, but that was the extent of it). I am a Communication Arts and Global Health Studies double major, which is a different, yet interdisciplinary field. And this summer, I am completing an internship in agriculture, something I wouldn’t have expected myself to do.

Throughout my days on the farm, I find myself reminded of things that I learned during that week at Catawba. I try to minimize my waste, through buying only things that I need and making the exact serving that I will eat. I ride my bike everywhere and work on trying to identify different crops and weeds. And while I would like to say that I can identify birds too, that’s more of everyone else’s specialty (I can’t see that far to identify whatever it is that is flying in the field in front of me). Most of all, I carry the fearlessness I had during that week. I was unafraid to get dirty and be involved in the environment that surrounded me in ways that surprised me (and my parents).  I wasn’t afraid to wade in the muddy water to catch fish, hold turtles and get on my knees to identify plants. Here, I’m not afraid to dig in the soil with my bare hands (Except when there is thistle. I hate thistle). I’m not afraid of shoveling compost and working hard, something my younger self would not do on purpose, if given the choice.

Most of all, I have the opportunity to work with four other amazing and strong women who encourage, teach and challenge me to learn more every day. Beginning with that science camp all those years ago, I’d like to think it was one of the first steps to preparing me for where I am now, even if I didn’t know it at the time. My dad calls it planting seeds.

So no, I was not born a farmer. But I’m learning to be one.

8 Things I Can’t Live Without When I Travel

I’ve traveled a lot throughout my 21 years of life. From traveling domestically with my family to traveling internationally by myself, I’ve had many different experiences. With my first solo trip within the United States in at least a year, I started to notice the things that always make the cut in my suitcase, no matter where I travel (or really it’s the things I’ve had to go buy at QFC, because I realized I couldn’t live without them). So, without further ado, here are 8 things I have noticed that I can’t live without on my travels.

  1. Dry Shampoo

Bathing is different in every culture. It is very much dependent on the weather, the availability of resources and the cost of said resources. To paint a picture, here are some of my experiences. When I was in Morocco, I took a shower every three to four days (Don’t worry, this was normal). This was because water is expensive. Additionally, women in Morocco typically go to public baths called Hammams (public baths that are essentially like big saunas) once a week or so. In Senegal, it was a little different. We were told that Senegalese take showers up to two or three times a day, because it’s so hot. However, water is also expensive there. I also was not a fan of the combination of wet hair and humidity (there’s nothing like laying down on my bed with wet hair in an already 80 degree room). Lastly, on the farm, we have a well where our water comes from, and we have a lot of it. But sometimes it’s cold and I don’t want to have a wet head. Biodegradable shampoo often does not agree with my hair either. For all these situations, dry shampoo does the trick.

  1. Travel Towel

Normal towels are bulky. They take up a chunk of your packing space that could be dedicated towards something else. Plus, when you get them wet, you must let them completely dry, otherwise they will smell like mildew. The solution to all of this is a travel towel! Travel towels are thin and roll up to nothing, leaving more space for other necessary items in your luggage. They are super absorbent and dry quickly, so if you use it the morning before you leave, you can pack it once it dries. I purchased mine from Liedl, in their special items section. It’s huge and I’ve used it to double as a beach towel too, because it’s so easy to clean. Highly recommend!

  1. Aloe Vera

I always forget to pack aloe vera. This is the worst to forget, because typically, I am traveling to a sunny place where I will be outside all the time. Despite the fact my mother constantly reminds me to put on sunscreen, I get burned a lot. A lot. Aloe is great to have as it cools your skin after being in the sun all day. It prevents peeling, which is the best, because I hate that more than anything. I usually just buy the store brand aloe vera and it works just fine!

  1. Electrical Tape

Those who know me know about my infamous electrical tape. I don’t intentionally bring it along with me, it just happens to be in the pocket of my purple backpack. It’s usually forgotten about until I suddenly need it. The story with the electrical tape is that it was a gift from a friend my junior year of high school after I joined Drumline as a cymbals player. I used it to wrap my fingers when they were still delicate and prone to blisters after gripping the straps for so long. I have taken this electrical tape to the Dominican Republic twice, to Morocco, to Senegal and now to the farm in Washington. It’s fixed broken flipflops, torn rainboots, posted papers to walls, taped things into journals and planners, and probably more things that I am forgetting about. I also learned that it’s what you use to fix T tape, which is essentially what carries the water through the beds of crops. Electrical tape, however, is only used to fix small holes. This is accurate, because while electrical tape isn’t a permanent solution to my problems, it can fix small ones temporarily (I tend to offer it as a solution no matter what, however).

  1. Chacos

Chacos are the most indestructible shoes I have ever owned. I had wanted them for a while, but they were so expensive, but my dad got them for me for Christmas two years ago. I wear them with everything. And I wear them everywhere. My Chacos have tripped over the brick pathways of Allegheny College, stumbled over the uneven sidewalks of the medina, sunk into the sand of the Sahara Desert (I think there is probably still sand from the desert embedded into the strap holes, meant to be there forever), trekked all over Dakar (I eventually gave up on wearing any other shoes in Senegal, because they would be destroyed within one 35 minute walk to school), slapped by tall grass on a motorcycle, and squished into an ambulance to 7 surrounding villages for vaccination rounds, trellised tomatoes, transplanted crops and been caked in dirt all at the same time. And they are still in almost perfect condition. When I have to buy new ones (hopefully never, because these Chacos have been through everything with me), I will probably cry. They can double as work shoes, farming shoes, adventure shoes, dress shoes, water shoes, whatever you want shoes. I love my Chacos and you will too.

  1. Journal

This is the most important item on any travel. Traveling is filled with new experiences, which comes with a lot of emotions and things that need to be processed. Personally, I can’t do it in my head. I must write it out to understand what I am going through. In Morocco, I wrote every single day before bed to record what I did, how I felt about it and why. I struggled in Morocco, because I was challenged to think about service in ways I hadn’t before, and it was hard. Writing it all out helped me later understand my purpose in being there and the lessons that I needed to learn to take forward with me in new experiences. In addition to all of that, I also have a written record of my time in Morocco that I will be able to keep forever. I haven’t read it yet, but one day I will. I encourage anyone who is going on any new experience, whether it’s to summer camp or to a new country or even just everyday life to find a way to keep a record of what’s going on. You’ll thank yourself later.

  1. Small gifts

Someone recently asked me about what I wish I would have taken to Senegal with me. And my answer was small gifts. Yes, I brought gifts to my host families, which is always important. They are opening their home to you and treating you as part of their family. But I also wished that I had brought other small things to give away to people that I got to know along the way. Those who I had built relationships with, whether it was someone from work or someone I had met and appreciated throughout my time in a certain place. In Senegal, it would have been the doctor and nurse that I worked with. My friend who was studying to be a pharmacist, who took me to the pharmacy and taught me about it. My other friend who was a senior in high school but would always practice English and Wolof with me at the health post. These individuals who were kind to me and who became my friends. Small gifts can include things from your home state, candy or food from the United States. Just enough to say thank you for their kindness and friendship.

  1. A book

Over the past year, my Dad has given me a different book to correspond with the travels that I was going on. For Morocco, I read Out of Africa. For Senegal, I read The Good Earth. For Washington, I have Walden (Or I am trying to get through it). These books are always the best, because I usually find something in each of these books that reminds me of what I am experiencing or reminds me of the place I am in. Books are great for long rides in various modes of transportation. But they are also great for trading with friends. When I was traveling on the weekends in Morocco, the friends I was with would often trade books to read and discuss them. It’s a good way to connect and create conversation. (If you need some recommendations, check out my last blog post here!)

 

Of course, there are more things I can’t live without, but these are ones that have been consistent throughout my travels. What are some things you can’t travel without?

 

 

Living “Off the Grid”

It’s been about two months since I first arrived on the farm. Unlike most people, I am spending my summer “off the grid”. Though yes, I am still technically on the grid through the fact that my mother can call me. But here at the farm, we operate on solar power and generators. Our kitchen and bathroom as well as individual power cords to each of our yurt/tents is powered by solar panels. The cooler we store our harvested food in is powered by a gas generator. I live in a yurt, which is a small tent. I am surrounded by  acres of growing vegetables. Our water comes from a well. We eat the food we harvest. I don’t have a car with me. So, what do I do with my time off? Here is your answer!

My yurt
  1. The North Bend Public Library

Despite my younger self proclaiming that this is not the case, I am becoming more and more like my father every day. Only my dad and I could be found at the library on a Sunday afternoon, willingly. Because we don’t have Wi-Fi on the farm, on my days off, you can sometimes find me at the library, checking emails, posting these blog posts, scrolling through Facebook, reading for my senior comp and more. I love the North Bend Library. Though it is small, it is beautiful and has a long desk by a large window facing the street I love to sit at and work. I also got a library card so that I can check out books. This brings me to my next thing…

  1. Reading Books

With my library card, I have a limited membership, which means I can check out two books at a time (this is because I am from out of state). Reading for fun is something that I haven’t really been able to do since high school. I am usually busy with schoolwork or extracurricular activities. Sitting down to read during the year simply just isn’t an option. Here, I go through two books a week, if not more. I usually choose books due to their interesting titles or pretty covers, but I always look on Goodreads for recommendations. I also enjoy writing reviews. Here are some of my favorite books that I have read so far (in case you’re looking for something to read):

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Burning Down the House by Jane Mendelsohn

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

30 Before 30: How I Made a Mess of My 20’s, And You Can Too by Marina Shifrin

Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness by Tracy Kidder

  1. Listening to Podcasts

I didn’t discover and really start listening to podcasts until I was in Senegal. I asked for recommendations, which is where many of my current podcasts I listen to are from. I really like listening to them, sometimes while pruning the tomatoes or weeding, but also while I’m taking out compost or cooking. It’s good background noise and I’m learning about different subjects at the same time. However, I learned it’s probably not a good idea to listen to my murder/paranormal podcasts at night while I’m alone in my yurt (Especially when the coyotes start howling). Here are some of my favorite podcasts (again, if you’re looking for a recommendation!)

And That’s Why We Drink

My Favorite Murder

Modern Love

Court Junkie

Ear Hustle

To Write Love on Her Arms

  1. Snoqualmie

About a 20-minute bike ride away is the town of Snoqualmie. This is also where the coin laundry is located. You spot the connection. Snoqualmie is a little mountain town that is nice to wander around on a warm afternoon. You can stop by the train depot, which has a small museum and offers two-hour train rides through Snoqualmie, North Bend and then down to Snoqualmie Falls. There’s also several breweries and restaurants. One of my favorites is The Black Dog, introduced to me by Krista, one of the other interns. It is a good brunch place with a small stage for performing artists. Also, to be found along the main road is an antique shop, an ice cream place and a curiosities shop. There is also a small park alongside the river that is good to sit and read or rest.

By the train depot in Snoqualmie
  1. Boomerang

My favorite place in North Bend (other than the farm of course) is a thrift store called Boomerang. The two other interns and I went on our days off when I first arrived, and we discovered a trove of great items. I got a vintage L.L. Bean jacket for a really good price. We also discovered that the first Monday of every month was half price day, in which I have gotten a men’s Columbia fleece jacket in excellent condition for work and a floral GAP shirt. I also found some cute watering can earrings to wear to the farmer’s market. We made a friend on the first time we visited, Linda, who we always look forward to seeing when we return. She always finds the best items for us.

  1. The River

On hot days, going to the river is always a great idea. It’s close to the farm, within walking or biking distance. I brought my ENO hammock with me to Washington and I am always able to find great spots to put it. The water itself is usually too cold for me to swim in, but I usually go stick my feet in, call it quits and retreat to my hammock to take a nap or read.

A view of the river by the farm

There’s lots of things to do around here and at the farm when I’m not working and I’m always discovering more. If anyone has any suggestions of books or podcasts, you’re always welcome to leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading!