The hardest thing about living on the farm in Argentina was how disconnected I was from everything and everyone. So much of the work that I am doing right now is Internet dependent. Also, it was extremely cold, mostly at night (it’s winter in South America). I’ve never been more thankful for hot water and wool. On any given day, I was layering practically half of the clothes that I packed.
One of my favorite tasks on the farm was managing the vineyard, and by managing, I mean cutting a bunch of branches. However, it wasn’t as easy as I initially thought it would be. It was quite rigorous work. Although, it was peaceful. My directions were simple: trim the branches to create a single trunk with two main branches and three smaller branches that grow from the two. I thought, “I can manage that.”
Then the (existential) questions crept in: How do I know which branches to cut? How can I cut the branches that will yield the most (and best) fruit?
The fact is you don’t know. You do your best and keep in mind the vines’ need for balance and nourishment. I approached this task in a similar way that I approach creating sculpture. The only difference is that the vines are living things and even with the most cautious of care taking, the results are not up to me.
I’m still learning how much of life is that way too.
La Rioja, Argentina — I’m living on a farm in the middle of nowhere. The nearest town with people (and Internet access) is 187 miles away.
I have been interested in Homesteading for several years now. It all started with a book that changed how I thought about work, time and money. The premise is simple: if you don’t need a lot of money (i.e.an expensive lifestyle), then you don’t need to make a lot of money, and you can spend more time doing things you want to do.
So for the next 3 weeks, I’m doing something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m living on a farm. The family that owns the farm has lived in La Rioja for over 18 years and they built everything from the ground up, including 2 houses, the plumbing system and solar panels for electricity. It’s modern and well-designed. While I’m here, I will be helping with chores; gardening, building stuff, feeding animals, whatever they need. In return, I’ll learn about managing a family farm and improve my Spanish (they don’t speak English). It’s basically a masterclass in innovation and sustainable living.
On one hand, it’s glorious (because I’m an introvert from NYC, so I know the value of quiet spaces). On the other hand, it’s a little terrifying because I have an overly active imagination, I’m a bit paranoid and low-key afraid of the dark.
In addition to learning Spanish, I’m helping them with their English. Just the other night, we gathered around the dinner table to play a trivia game on their iPad. While the words were in Spanish, the topics were international. There were questions about celebrities, religion, history, movies, popular culture…everything. Well, a question popped up on the screen and I laughed out loud. My Spanish vocabulary is the equivalent of a three-year-old’s, mind you but I knew what the question was about. They all looked at me a bit puzzled, waiting for me to explain myself. But I didn’t have the heart to tell them what ‘twerking’ was. Not yet.