Blue Earth, Minnesota
Thursday, July 15, 2010

This morning to our surprise, there are 3 new faces getting ready to go out into the fields. The 3 ladies joining us come from Mexico. Their husbands work at a processsing plant in the next county and they travel across to Blue Earth to work in the fields. Andy tells me something about work papers and that they may have the same names on and that noone seems to be bothered checking, not even the local Sheffif Department! But that's what life seems t be about here. A fair days work for a fair days pay and everyone is happy.

The three new workers are quite chatty in Mexican- English (would that language be called Menglish?). They share small exchanges of practiced phrases with Gnoc, making Gnoc's use of English sound far superior. She has also picked up some Spanish words too. Listening to Mexicans and Vietnamese having a converstaion and grappling with the English Language is quite amazing and very colourful to listen to.

The crop we are hand-picking today is a large flowerpod with seed that is very dusty. After spraying ourselves from head to toe in 98% DEET bug spray we trudged into the field and began picking the seed in echalon. The stems are quite tall so there isnt as much bending over to do but the sun is still blistering down hard on our heads. The heat today was quite intense. Bill brought out some iced ater to keep everyone hydrated, but in this heat it warms up quickly. It suprising that any wildlife exisits in these temperatures but in this prairie field there are deer, frogs, lizards, flowers and all manner of instects I have never come across before and of course our old freinds, mosquitoes! The Mexicans come prepared for working out in these conditions. They wear large brimmed sombreroes, long sleaved sweatshirts, bandanas and padded coats. These people don't take any chances. Diane and me on the otherhand, are typically British and try to get as much sun on as much bare skin as possible! This has resulted in being bitten ALL over our bodies; a small price to pay for a sun tan.

As we work busily work aware towards our ulimate goal of reaching the ned of the field before sundown, Mike and Gnoc tells us about the various biting insects they regularly come across worker in the fields. Mike explains that there are two main types of ticks- deer ticks and wood ticks- nothin like putting you off your work!.

Gnoc explains, while practicing her English along with amazing hand gestures, about how she had to burn off a tick last night when she found it during a shower. It is worring me a little due to the very small amount of skin cover we have in these fields- I will check EVERYWHERE tonight when I have a shower.
A few hours pass of snipping and cutting and back-breaking bending and as I straighten up to stretch out my back I hear a little squeal. I turn to Gnoc who can also hear it. By now everyone has stopped and all can hear it. I bent over and cleared some of the vegetaion from around my feet and found a newborn animal,  all pink and furless with its eyes still shut crying out for its mother and trying to shelter itself from the sunlight. We weren't too sure if it was a vole, mole, rat or prairie dog. I scraped some of the hot topsoil down to the darker, cooler soil and placed it out of our path, covreing it up with a few leaves for shelter.

Our original agreement was to volunteer for four to five hours per day but as this particular seed was more than ready to be picked we put in a ten hour shift. After filling our last sack I helped Mike drag the brimming sacks up out of the field onto the roadside ready for for collection. Bill turned up with one of the college boys in the pickup with a trailer  and we loaded the forteen sacks onto the back.

Today was was the hotest day since our arrival and we worked hard and long to get this crop picked and loaded. It was aout 6.30pm when we finally got back. After dinner we fancied a glass of wine and had a quick pedal into Main Street to buy one. We were told that alcohol wasn't sold to buy over the counter in town and that we would have to head out to the liquor store on the edge of town. I suppose this is quite a good way of controlling alcohol as there are only two bars you can buy it at and as the population is so small it helps keep there businesses running if it isn't too accessible. There's a thought, I haven't seen any gangs of drunken teenagers (or otherwise) gathering on street corners around Blue Earth- another reason why this place seems so safe and friendly!

At the store we tried finding the same wine Diane and Robyn had shared previously. It took a while as there was so much choice but we finally took home a bottle of Pinot Noir. After only one glass we were reaqdy for bed. Another day over and more experiences to wake up to! 

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Mexican woman managing to keep the sun off 


 DSCF1682.jpg picture by Bibblerspics


 DSCF1672.jpg picture by Bibblerspics


 DSCF1674.jpg picture by Bibblerspics

 Mike fixing Dianes clippers

 DSCF1690.jpg picture by Bibblerspics