There is so much I want to say. The last month or so has been crazy. My lovely internship at an urban farm has taken up the bulk of my time 3 days out of my week. Much of it has been good but I’ve had hard days. I have had a lot of fun and learned a lot there, though I am hesitant to post any photos since the place I work is a non-profit that receives a reasonable amount of online publicity. I happen to be in some of their pictures that were posted on their social media, too. And in my own photos that I snapped in my spare time at my internship site, I fear showing any of them here will cause recognition of the organization and where I work. That would be too close for my comfort level, although I am fine with having my photo taken for the organization to use. It’s silly but I made up a series of questions for myself to answer here so I could share what I’ve been up to lately.
At your internship, name a time when…
- Something crazy happened
I have two things to name since both were in my top two of crazy happenings.
First, a hawk is known to occasionally drop by the urban farm, and in the past, has actually eaten some of a smaller breed of chickens who were housed there. All 30+ chickens on the farm are free-ranging; meaning the only time they aren’t is during roosting hours after sundown and any other time of the day they are allowed to go as they please on the whole farm. Usually they know to run for cover when they see the hawk. One day at work, the other interns and I spotted a little blue colored budgerigar perched on a low tree branch. He flew off when one of the interns tried to get close. I know wild budgerigars are native to Australia, though to my knowledge, they are not birds seen in New York City except in petshops where they are popular birds to buy and keep as pets. And now comes the bad part. Later we were entranced by the appearance of the hawk. He looked so majestic and fearsome sitting on a fence. Then we all saw a blur of something blue clenched around one of his feet. Yes, it was the budgerigar. It was terrible to watch him struggling to get free. The hawk soon took off to higher ground in the middle of a tree. It was not close enough for us to see clearly but close enough for us to spot the bunch of feathers that fell from the hawk’s beak as he worked on his prey. I only hope it was a quick death for the little bird so he didn’t have to suffer for long.
The second incident took place a week ago on Sunday. I sustained my very first work injury. At the time I got injuried, of course it was horrifying! But now that I have had time to process the event, it is neat to think about because I have never had the experience of getting hurt at a job and knowing what that is like. Typically on Sundays I am scheduled to do specific tasks at my internship, but since it was raining, it was cancelled and I was instead helping with setting up a saw machine. The machine had four retracable legs. At each corner was a button to push in and only by pushing, the leg could be pulled down. This went fine for the first leg but when I did the same for the second leg, it refused to budge no matter how hard I pushed down the button with my thumb. Someone else got the leg down for me and then in my haste, I released the button too quickly. The motion of the button bouncing up from the release actually slammed into thumb. All I felt was numbness from the impact and I shook off my hand assuming I just got a little bruise or something; not realizing I was bleeding (from a diagonal cut that cleanly severed the top of my thumb nail) until another intern pointed this out to me. I think I went into a bit of shock from seeing part of my nail gone because I started seeing spots in my vision. The same intern later helped apply antiseptic to the wound and bandage it up with gauze. Later that night, I ended up soaking my whole thumb (with the gauze) in a bowl of warm water because the mesh on the gauze had gotten stuck to the broken skin as the blood clotted and dried. It was painstaking work to wait for the gauze to loosen in water so I could use tweezers to slowly pull the mesh off bit by bit. It was fine in the end; I rebandaged myself up with several band-aids and popped into work the next day. I avoided using my thumb for anything in the days after, as putting even a little pressure on it gave me a sharp pain from the damaged skin.
- Something funny happened
There is a staff member at my internship who I only see one day out of the three days I am working. She definitely is not a mean person by any means but does have a specific way of doing things that is slightly different from how my supervisor introduces me and the other interns to new tasks. So around this staff member, we are tend to follow her instructions to the t because we don’t want to mess up and make mistakes. One morning, we arrived to work and were waiting for farm volunteers to show up. Suddenly, the staff member drove by in her car and the radio was playing the song “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. One of the interns commented, “That’s quite ironic!”, considering how we feel about the staff member and all.
- Something bad happened that turned out to be good
Recently, I got very dry eyes during a workday. I must have dosed my eyes with artifical liquid tears at least twice that morning for each eye but they still felt terrible. It was also both sunny and windy, which only aggravated my condition. I put on my sunglasses to shield myself. That day, the worksite was due to be visited by a running city council person. I was grateful for my sunglasses because I was blinking a lot due to the dryness of my eyes. It was especially helpful because during the meet and greet, we each introduced ourselves and said our own opinion about a change we would like to see in composting practices around the city. Of course, I get quite nervous when all eyes are on me. The sunglasses were like an added layer of mental protection to help me from not completely freezing up when it was my turn to speak.
- Something challenging happened
Oh boy. This internship has given me much needed exposure to being around more people so I can better practice my conversation skills. It’s not really that I come in to work with a prepared list of questions in my head that I want to ask people. I think of it as just going with the flow of small talk. Sometimes I still feel awkward seeing my team members after not seeing them for several days. Or remembering that thing I was texting one of them about over the weekend and then not knowing if I should bring it up for conversation’s sake or just talk about something else entirely. The most important to me is to not rush a relationship. Getting to know someone takes time. And some things in a conversation come up as my rapport with the person builds up more and my comfort level with sharing things with the person becomes more relaxed. I didn’t know any of the interns prior to getting this job, except the 4th intern to join our team. He was/is a college classmate of mine and I recommended him for the position after I learned from my supervisor that the original 4th intern who was supposed to be part of the team had dropped out and she was looking for a replacement to fill the vacancy. I am even still learning to get to know him as a person. Although I knew him in a limited capacity because we had some of the same classes and worked together on a group gardening project in-person during a past semester, I never really talked to him on a personal level until now. Previously, I suspected he probably owned a dog because his Zoom profile picture was of him and a large yellow golden retriever. But if not for this internship, I wouldn’t have known he recently adopted a cat several months back, that he is allergic to sesame seeds, or that he once thought about becoming a physical therapist.
- Something exciting happened
I have had too many exciting moments to write about, but one of those firsts was holding one of the farm hens. Another staff member was already holding her when I was given the chance by him to have her to myself. It was amazing! She felt like a small dog, except way lighter and softer. This chicken in particular was more docile and did not mind being held and petted because she was handfed when she was a baby. Since then on some work days, I still occasionally pick her up for a cuddle (when she doesn’t mind being picked up, that is). I’ve never touched a hen’s comb (the red thing on a chicken’s head) before, and in the words of another intern, “It feels like dried gum.” There was even a day when a running candidate for the city council dropped by for a tour of the urban farm and we were prepping for a group photo. I thought it might be fun to have the hen in the picture too, but other people visiting the farm wanted a pet and picture with the hen so I obliged. Unfortunately I missed out on the group photo because of this. Oh well.
- Something scary happened
The unfortunate thumb nail cutting incident was described in another paragraph, which in my opinion was not that scary if I compared it to my fear of public speaking. I have not done anything too intense in terms of speaking up in a group like a TEDtalk (I can’t imagine!!), but a few times I got the opportunity to give volunteers a brief synopsis of a farm activity that was one of my main daily duties. It was hard to sum up the whole thing in just a couple of sentences but I chose my words appropriately (I think). It helped that I wasn’t left to fend for myself, as other staff members added to what I said when they had their turns with talking about other volunteer activities. I was more nervous about having so much attention on me rather than saying the wrong things.
Well, that’s all the notable stuff I can think of now. Might continue these little “stories” in another post!
Featured picture credits: It was a photo taken and edited by me; a slogan I saw on the back of someone’s jeep.