Second Class Citizen — Chapter 2

IMG_0103After first year there was no thought given to returning to my home town. I had some friends there, but no place to stay. I needed to get a job that would help me get into veterinary medicine. Let me introduce the Farm Labour Pool.

The Farm Labour Pool was a loosely arranged group that was based on the mutual need of the farmers to have summer help and the university students to get practical on-farm experience. Veterinary students were not the only ones that needed this experience. There was also an Agricultural Program on campus, affectionately called the “Aggies” or the veterinary wanabees and a Diploma in Agriculture which, was a two year course to give farmers a broader perspective after highschool, before they returned to the family farm. These fellas, and yes they were all fellas as far as I know, were called the Dippers.

All three groups needed on-farm experience and the Farm Labour Pool was the link between the students and the farms. I went to my interview, which as I remember it was for any of the farm jobs and I was told that the farmers that wanted help actually wanted someone that was already in the veterinary program.

Perspective has a way of changing the understanding of a situation. In hindsight, I now know, that this may have been on the farmer’s wish list, but in reality, you could make more money waiting tables. Why you would choose to work on a farm and do 10-14 hour days, six days a week, instead of living in the city and making more money and having a social life? It did make me feel like they were ‘doing me a favour’ by getting me a job on a dairy farm though.

The reality of this job was another matter. I had never experienced what it meant to be a second class citizen before. The first day that I arrived at this job I was told that they had company staying with them and that I could not move into my room yet.

The room that they offered me was a closet. No window, but it did have a light suspended from the ceiling by a long electrical cord. It was equipped with a chain that you could pull to turn the light off and on. It also had a cot that just fit along the one side of the room with the foot against one wall and the head of it against the other wall. To be fair, I was not in this room for very long.

If I had already been accepted into veterinary medicine I would have been quicker to say, “Wow! Sorry! I didn’t mean to arrive before you were ready for me. When will my room be open?” As it was, I was once again traveling with my car full of all of my belongings and I had no where else to go, so I stayed.

I have learned over the years that when you are confronted with the same problem over and over again you should recognize that you must have gotten it wrong the last time. We are given multiple opportunities to make the right decision, take the right action and see the truth that is right in front of us. When we don’t make this connection, we get another opportunity to make a different choice, again and again. It is humbling to write this now, but this summer was not the last time that this happened to me.

I would again be treated poorly and instead of taking immediate action to stop it, I would become introspective, re-evaluate my expectations, justifying inaction and generally let it go on way too long.

I had to move off of my lounge chair and over to the patio table with the umbrella. It is so hot out here that I was sweating profusely and not only was it uncomfortable, but I was starting to worry about getting water into my computer. So, I am now in the shade. The app on my cell phone tells me that it “feels like” 95 F, with the humidex and all.

The humidex is the same concept as the wind chill factor. In the winter it feels colder if there is more wind so it may be 40 F out, but it feels much colder because of the wind. The humidex recognizes that when it is really humid it feels hotter than it is. It is not even noon yet.

I mentioned that I was treated like a second class citizen. The closet is not how this ended. In a traditional farmhouse, the men did the outside work and the women did the inside work. Now, all women also worked outside but only after the inside work was done.

I was hired to help with the milking of the cows. The cows liked me. I heard that the amount of milk that they were producing actually went up when I started to milk them. The farmer’s wife mentioned this during one of our meals and her husband was quick to down play it and say that any change will cause them to produce more milk. I have no way of knowing if that is true or not. I didn’t stay long enough to see if the novelty of having someone else milk them would wear off.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Milk is for Cows

www.wendypowell.ca

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