88 days diaries: Big bad boss; a manual

When you’ve decided to do your 88 days on a farm, be prepared. Not all farmers are of the happy, cheerful and friendly kind. You might have to deal with a somewhat eccentric boss. If you take things personal, you’d better just turn around now. This isn’t the place for you. If you’re not scared, read on, this manual might help you prepare for what’s to come.


Communication is not his strongest point. You can expect to hear commands a lot; ‘bring me that broom!’. This isn’t a place for niceties, but at least a command is better than just getting a hand gesture and be expected to understand what is implied. Get used to the fact that the eccentric boss won’t tell you exactly what to do. You will have to transform into some sort of interpreter of the asshole language. When he says ‘A’, you’d better think about what ‘B’ and ‘C’ could be.

Handle with care

When you hear ‘come here please’ you know the eccentric boss is in a good mood. But beware, his moods swing as fast as the weather. Sometimes there’s no knowing if it’s going to rain or shine. Only ask things when there is nobody else to ask and don’t disturb him at the wrong time. Always just nod yes and don’t say he’s got things wrong. This will not change anything but the status of your employment.


I am sure Australia has certain laws about breaks and circumstances at work, but they surely haven’t reached the eccentric boss yet. The eccentric boss would rather not pay you and will threaten you with it. “No result, no money.” “When I see someone standing around they won’t get anything.” He’d rather have you not even take your break. So when you are taking one, be prepared for it to be disturbed by the boss or for you to be taken away to another job while taking your first bite from your sandwich. Tip: take your break in the field if possible, so as to avoid interaction with the eccentric boss.


Even though the eccentric boss expects you to do all the work the men do, he will see you as a woman and you will get all the ‘women work’ on top of your workload. This includes but is not limited to getting coffee for the boys, doing dishes and cleaning anything that needs cleaning. Being a woman has a small advantage though, but this has not been proven yet. Rumors say that the eccentric boss is easier on women than he is on men. For men: one mistake and you’re out. This mistake can be preferring to get in someone else’s car instead of your eccentric boss’s car.

In short, you will create thick skin so you can endure the short, grumpy comments about how you’re doing things wrong all the time. You will constantly feel like things need to be done faster and better, even though you are working your ass off. You will be scared to ask what your next task is. You will be careful in dealing with your eccentric boss. You will hesitate to take your well-deserved break, skip breaks and you will go home feeling guilty, even though it is 4PM and time to stop. You will also hear lots of stories from others who are as annoyed by the eccentric boss as you are. You will work with people who are in the same boat and understand what you are going through. This makes dealing with the eccentric boss something you can survive. Don’t let him win. Just let whatever he tells you flow right out of your brain again.

Whatever you do, keep smiling!

Whatever you do, keep smiling!

If you want to stay in Australia for a second year working holiday, you’ll have to do your 88 days of regional work. In the 88 days diaries I tell the story of my three months of farm work on a cherry orchard. I worked out in the fields as a farm hand before working in the packing shed during the cherry season. Read about what I think, experience and explore, from eccentric farmers to new skills.


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