88 days diaries: The cherry carrousel

The cherry season is starting. I am not alone anymore. Two Taiwanese girls and an American boy have joined me in the house. It is so much fun to have people around, even though we all have to wait to use the shower now. It is refreshing to have people whom you can share your thoughts and frustrations with, or just to have a nice chat about random things.

My first day in the packing shed was long. Cherries came past on a conveyor belt and I was standing in between dozens of women with head scarves to pick out the bad ones. The farmer’s finger showed ‘come’ and I was put on the second grade cherries. I only had to take out the really nasty ones. It seemed easy, but I was alone and in over my head. I had to pick out bad cherries, weigh the boxes and drop them on the next belt. In the meantime the cherries were piling up. Placebo’s song ‘something rotten’ was playing in my head over and over again at the sight of the bad cherries.

Cherries are rolling over the belts

Cherries are rolling over the belts

My job description changes daily. One day I have to go for quality and the next day I have to go for speed. There is no pleasing this man. Then he points to some boxes: “See those boxes there? That is what the others have done. Now look at your boxes. Don’t be so fussy!” What he forgot to mention is that ‘the others’ consists of 20 people and ‘I’ consists of just me. A day later I am told I have to help sorting the first grade cherries. “We can pretend that we sell lots of second grade, but the focus is on the first grade.”

And cherries are rolling off the belts

And cherries are rolling off the belts

So now I am running around between belts, wherever they need me. I have no clue where my priorities are. When it gets busier the farmer wants me to do quality checks, but the farmer’s wife wants me to do shed door sales. Besides this I check the scales and prepare the shed every morning and when everybody leaves, we backpackers stay behind to pick up the cherries from the floors and the machines. Welcome in the cherry carrousel!

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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