Farm-Hand Holiday

One thing about being a professional is the need for continually maintaining and developing your skills. The CIC at the Chapter and the National level provide many opportunities to participate in training (seminars) and networking events (grads, AGMs), which are helpful for many reasons. To varying degrees these events help us in our chosen profession.

Vacations are also a way to refresh yourself, which will help you in the performance of your job. I want to share with you how I spent part of my vacation last summer, which was a little different, and was, I believe, a useful professional experience. Here is my first email to friends and family, and it sets the tone for what was a wonderfully fun week…

I am spending the week volunteering at Camp Arnes (North of Gimli, Manitoba)…my son is at camp and wanted me to be there too, so I volunteered as a “wrangler”…working with the horses (I am certain that my accounting skills will serve me well here somehow).

I showed up at the corrals, the only guy among six ladies, most of who work here year-round. They are all a lot of fun and know a lot about horses.

The first question they asked each other when we got there in the morning was “did the chickens live”? Apparently last night was their first night allowed to “roam”. There are 6 chickens, 2 goats, 2 sheep, and about 25 horses. (The chickens lived, by the way).

My first job was to clean up a couple of horses, including brushing their coats and “hoof picking”, which is exactly what you might think it is (picking nasty stuff out of the horses hoof).

I have also torn down a fence, fixed two doors for the chicken pen, took a donkey for a walk to greet campers, and rode a horse (named Jasper) for about an hour (note to self, invent spring-loaded saddles). Of course, there was “time with a shovel”, as it turns out I am more than amply qualified to shovel, well, what needed shoveling.

My first assigned job tomorrow morning: “goat-proof the chicken exit”…what could that possibly mean?

(Just to close the loop, goat proofing a chicken shed meant nailing a narrow piece of wood down the center of the chicken coop exit – birds get can out, but goats can’t get in).

I do not pretend to have had a profound experience or epiphany during the 5 days I played at being a farm-hand. What I did get is a sore back, lost a couple of pounds, and learned that I can in fact go more than two hours in a row without eating.

I did come back from that week more refreshed and grounded than I expected. I learned that the ‘just get up and do it’ attitude, so necessary when working on a farm, was a difficult thing to replicate at the office, where the desk-work, so often designed to come to you, keeps your bum in your chair.

A change is as good as a rest, they say. It worked for me, though I was very happy that I was a farm-hand for only five 5 days!


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