So as I may have mentioned , I was hired by Clear Spring Creamery as a farm apprentice for 2012. All to the good, but what does that actually mean?
I had a phone conversation with Clare the other day, which answered some of my questions.
When do I start?
February 27, most likely.
Who works at the farm?
Mark and Clare Seibert own and run Clear Spring Creamery - the land has been in Mark's family for a long time. They have two kids, a few part-time (and I think one full-time) workers around the farm and in the creamery, and volunteers who help staff the Dupont Circle Farmers Market in DC. I will be the only intern, however.
What will I be doing?
The day will be divided more or less in half. We start at 7 AM with bringing in the cows for milking, and then moving them to their new acre of pasture for the day. After cleaning up (Clare assures me that I should reserve a few items of clothing only for milking, because they will apparently be unfit for anything else) and having an early lunch, I'll work in the creamery for the rest of the day, where I'll learn the ins and outs of pasteurizing milk, making cheese, bottling yogurt, and wearing a hairnet. My dad got me an artisinal cheese-making book the other day, and I'm excited to try out a few things.
I will also be working at least one farmers market, possibly two - if I remember correctly, there is one on Saturday and possibly one on Thursday.
I'll get two days off a week. They're flexible with those, but it will most likely be Sunday and Monday.
Where will I live?
In a private camper on the farm that has its own bed, bathroom with shower, kitchen (including a fridge, stove and sink, although no working oven - there will be a large toaster oven, though), A/C and heat. I'll need to bring along my own linens and towels. Clare said that there's a smattering of cooking equipment there, but I'll probably bring along some of my own.
The farm itself is located in Clear Spring, Maryland, about two hours north of DC. The town of Clear Spring isn't all that great, honestly - it seemed like a pretty depressed area to me - but the Appalachian Trail is about twenty miles away, Frederick is about the same distance, and there are other parks and so forth within driving distance. Besides which, I'm pretty good at entertaining myself... usually with books.
Additionally, there is wireless internet at the house. My cell phone coverage may be spotty, but if I need to, I have access to their land line. Meals can either be on my own or with the family.
What's the pay?
I'll be getting the same deal I had at Brightwood Vineyard and Farm this last year - room and board (I'll have a food stipend to use at the farmers market, as well as access some of their own products), and a stipend of $200 per week - much of which I hope to stick safely away into my savings.
In case you can't tell, I am doltishly excited about this opportunity, and in no way insensible to my good luck in landing it. Because I'll probably be leaving in August to start grad school (assuming I'm accepted), I know I wasn't Mark and Clare's first pick. They were honest with me about that, which I appreciate. In the end, the guy they offered the job to took another job, and - lucky me! - I was still available.
Even when I was looking at other farms, Clear Spring Creamery was my first choice of those I visited back in November. Mark and Clare are extremely personable people, and I felt very comfortable around them. They didn't mind my millions of questions, which is always a good sign. Additionally, they have no off-farm income, which means I'll be able to see how a successful, sustainable farm business operates - a big draw for me. And let's be honest... the housing is phenomenal.