Farmer Josh is back on the farm! And it is so nice to have him back.
After spending three months in the city I think he’s glad to be back as well. Josh’s time was well spent at Growing Power in Milwaukee. He was able to connect with some folks who were willing to share their knowledge in areas such as vermiposting and aquaponics, areas he has had a desire to learn more about. Many friendships were made and valuable lessons learned.
Josh had been expecting me to arrive on the evening of July 8 ready to load his belongings in the car and head back home early the next morning. Unknown to him though, we were making plans to surprise him and arrive early with not only me, but with Steve and Jena as well. Steve had called Growing Power to find out what we needed to do to be able to work as volunteers for a couple of days. A required volunteer orientation session is offered every Saturday at 10 a.m. so we made plans to be on hand for the orientation offered on Saturday, July 7, the day before Josh was expecting me to pick him up.
Steve, Jena and I traveled the 12 hours to Milwaukee on Friday and set up camp at a campsite we had reserved near a pretty little lake north of Milwaukee. The next morning we headed into Milwaukee to find Growing Power and hopefully surprise Josh.
When we arrived we had to walk across the front of the Growing Power property all the time wondering what we would do it Josh saw us before we saw him. We made it to the GP store and introduced ourselves to the lady behind the counter. Clara, as we soon learned, had spent time talking to Josh and, it seemed had “adopted” him. After sharing hugs and her appreciation of Josh, this dear lady took us out onto the property to find Josh. Some of the other staff indicated that he was in the chicken house so we headed that way. As we neared the chicken house Clara called to Josh and he came bounding out of the house and soon had the most classic look of disbelief on his face I’ve seen. It appeared we had genuinely surprised him! Hugs and laughter then followed – it was so much fun!
We then reported back up to the front greenhouse for our volunteer orientation. After the 45 minute orientation we were put to work for a short while cleaning out a fence row of weeds. Soon, though, we were called off that job to go to another assignment which, to our great delight was working with Josh and Will Allen! Will was broadcasting seed for salad mix and we went behind him covering the seed with a thin layer of worm castings. While working we were able to visit with Will and Josh. What an honor to be able to work with Will and learn first-hand about some of his theories and methods.
Throughout the rest of the day we did a variety of tasks including gathering eggs, cleaning out nestboxes and replacing the straw, feeding chickens their greens, haying and watering the goats, and putting together and filling mushroom chandeliers. It was such fun to be able to work side-by-side with Josh in the environment where he had been working and learning the past three months.
Especially heart-warming was seeing and hearing Josh’s co-workers and supervisors as they came to Josh to tell him good-bye and express appreciation for his good work there at Growing Power. Several of the staff had gone together to purchase a 5-gallon bucket of red wiggler worms for Josh to bring home so Josh and Will harvested the worms from the large worm depository.
Sunday we arrived early to work again and helped with “animal husbandry day” washing out water, feed and hay containers and shoveling full about 25 wheelbarrow loads of compost then spreading them in the chicken house for bedding. We also fed limbs full of leaves to the goats from a tree that had just been cut down on the property. After the limbs were cleaned of leaves by the goats, we hauled them to a large compost pile.
Sunday evening while Josh was finishing the watering, Steve, Jena and I went to his apartment to finish packing his things and clean the apartment. After we had everything loaded we went back to get Josh.
Josh spent that night with us at the campsite. We were on the road by 5:30 the next morning and since we were north of Milwaukee we swung by Growing Power one more time so Josh could say a few more good-byes.
After unpacking the next day, Josh got busy potting up some plants he had brought back with him and setting up worm bins to begin vermiposting on Mitchell Family Farm.
Meanwhile back on the farm life has gone on while Josh was in Milwaukee. Our family garden has done well, keeping Imogene busy canning. Spanky, the Large Black boar, was moved into the pen with Lucy (baby pigs should be arriving in a few months) and haying season has commenced. Josh has gotten right back into the middle of things cutting, raking and putting up loose hay. It sure is nice to have him home!