Life’s What You Make It (Life in Warragul)

Hello everyone! Time is flying by so fast. I’ve officially been in my new department for two weeks, and I’ve now been at my current job for a full month out of my six-month contract! Our start-time for work has changed from 6:30am to 7:00am since the sun is rising later, so that’s given us an extra half-hour to sleep in everyday this past week. Surprisingly, it’s actually been more difficult for me to get up a half hour later! My new position was a rough start at first. We’re now in charge of arch support, which involves using little plastic arch-shaped clips, and having to clip them onto the stems of any trusses, which is where the tomatoes will grow. This will “train” that stem to bend so that when the tomatoes DO

Farm sunset

grow off of it, it won’t end up snapping because of the weight of the tomatoes. There are five of us who do arch support, and the other girls are SO fast. They’ll do one row in 20-30 minutes, while it takes me one hour. Our supervisors have told us to take our time and not to stress about going faster because you have to be extremely careful when putting the clips on the stems. If you pull too hard, you might end up snapping off the stem (and I’ve done this a lot!). I feel like in a few weeks, they’ll start cracking down on how fast we should work, cause they have targets that each department has to reach by the end of the week and if we don’t reach those targets, we’ll end up having to work on Saturday. So far, we haven’t had to work any Saturdays yet, and I’m hoping it’ll stay like that! Anyway, while doing this job, we’re standing on our trolley the entire time – for over 8 hours per day. No walking around or sitting, just standing in one place. As the day goes on, you start to notice different parts of your body in pain. We do pollination everyday and this time, instead of having to hit the wires with a baton, we get to use leafblowers. We have to wear big noise-cancelling headphones while pollinating, and there are usually 16 or 17 people who pollinate, and it’ll take us about an hour and a half. We just have to go back and forth on the trolleys, while blowing each plant in order to spread around the pollen. My day generally goes like this (note: this day has changed this week since we no longer have a ride to work):

5:15am (now 4:45am) – Alarm goes off
5:30am (now 5:00am)- Get out of bed and get ready for work
6:00am (now 5:30am)- Have breakfast and pack lunch
6:30am (now 6:00am)- Leave for work
7:00am – Start work (arch support)
9:30am – Snack break
9:45am – Pollination
11:30 or 12:00 (depending on how fast we do pollination) – Arch support
12:30pm – Lunch
1:00pm – Arch Support
Go home whenever they tell us (usually between 3:30 and 4:30pm)
-Walk home for 45 minutes (usually get home after 5pm) – unless some random person stops and offers us a ride. The amount of random cars we’ve gotten into is now uncountable…
-Shower & do Duolingo language lessons (I’m doing French and Ukrainian, woot woot)
-Make dinner and next day’s lunch
-Watch Married at First Sight
-Go to bed by 9:30pm
We have fallen into a good routine! The first few days of this, I was having a really tough time and was seriously

Karina, Sonia, Me, and Yeah

contemplating whether it was worth a second year in Australia. On the second day working in the new department, it was 31 degrees outside (so likely somewhere between 40 and 50 degrees inside), and I legitimately thought I was going to die. My body was constantly dripping, I became delusional and couldn’t think straight, my legs were in so much pain from standing for over 9 hours, and I didn’t know when they’d send us home. I was nearly just going to tell the supervisor that I needed to go home. The worst part about the first few days was that after work, I still felt like I was on the trolley, constantly moving sideways. Any time I was sitting down, it felt like everything around me was moving. It was tough! I think my body has slowly gotten used to it and I’m really excited because this week, it’s only supposed to be in the 20’s instead of the 30’s, so it should be a lot more enjoyable to work in (never thought I’d be wishing for cold weather while here, but look at me now). One of my first days at work, I was pollinating and ended up getting stuck. In order to pollinate, you have to be above all of the plants, but they’re all held up by S-shaped hooks on a wire so the higher you are, the closer you are to those S-shaped hooks. One row ended up being really narrow and my shirt got caught on one of the hooks. I wasn’t thinking straight and forgot that I had to lift my foot off of the pedal in order to stop the trolley, so it kept pulling my shirt (and bra strap) and wouldn’t let go! All that was going through my head was my shirt was going to end up ripping right off and I’d be stuck at the top of the greenhouse topless, for everyone to see. Luckily that wasn’t the case, but I ended up having a huge hole in the back of my shirt, and my bra strap completely ripped off. Now I know to keep away from the hooks!

Casino time!
The rest of the week was pretty good. Sonia and I have been making weekly meal plans together so that we can do our grocery shopping on the weekends with whoever will drive us to a store. Sonia’s vegan and we’ve also decided to start a Paleo diet on top of that, so our meals have all been no meat, no grain, and no dairy. Add in the standing for 9 hours per day and walking home for 45 minutes, and I’ve found myself feeling quite good! All of the people that we’ve been living with are so nice as well. I’ve noticed that the Taiwanese culture is to be as hospitable as possible, and everyone has been so sweet. One evening, one of the guys was cooking his dinner and he came up to my room and asked if he could have one of my lunch containers so he could fill it up for my lunch the next day. It was quite tasty! Some of the other girls have made us tapioca pudding and bubble tea, and both were so good. The couple who we live next to (Yeah and Karina) offered to take us to Melbourne with them last weekend so we decided that since we finally got paid right before the weekend (after only having 16 dollars left in my bank account), we should finally treat ourselves. They sent us an hourly itinerary the evening before about when we’d be leaving and where we’d be going; it was so cute! We left at 9 on Saturday morning to drive to Melbourne, which took about 1.5-2 hours. We started the day by going to the casino, and I had my first ever casino experience (sorry mom!). Lucky for us, we didn’t end up having to spend our own money since we signed up for a membership, which gave us $5 for table games and $5 for slot games. Since the table games were $5 bets, we were only able to bet once, and our $5 was gone within 10 seconds. The slots lasted a bit longer, but I still didn’t win anything, and only ended up walking out with one cent. Karina won 90 dollars though, so at least one of us walked out with something! We then went to CJ Lunch Bar for lunch, which is a Korean restaurant. I went with my safe (and cheap!) choice of Bibimbap and it was so good! After lunch, we checked out the Queen Victoria market because it closes at 3pm, so they offer cheaper deals on their produce around 2pm. We then went to one of the Asian supermarkets before heading to a huge shopping mall so that we could buy some more work clothes. Before we knew it, it was already 8pm so we headed back to Melbourne. It was such a good day! A

My 1 cent winnings!

few days later, Sonia and I were sad to find out that Yeah and Karina were planning to move out the following weekend because they found jobs with longer hours and more money in Griffith, which is about 6 hours away. They are such a sweet couple and I was so sad to see them go, but I’m hoping to visit them in Taiwan someday soon!

This past week was pretty much the same, except for a minor incident that happened on Thursday. It was a 31 degree day that day so of course we came home extremely hot, sweaty, and pollinated. As usual, we planned to shower right after work and were surprised to find out that there wasn’t any running water in the house! When we contacted the landlord, she said we likely wouldn’t have any water again until the following day. Luckily, the barn uses a separate water tank so we were still able to use the toilet there. However, it made cooking and washing dishes a lot more difficult, since the sink was tiny and we’d have to haul water back and forth. We made due with boiling the remaining water in the kettle to cook vermicelli noodles, and then mixing it with whatever veggies we had left in the fridge. Unfortunately, we had to survive with not showering that day. I then used my cabin-survival skills and got the biggest pot I could find to fill with water so that we wouldn’t have to go to the barn to get ready for bed and wake up the next morning. This past weekend, Sonia’s boyfriend came to visit from Perth so they went to their own airbnb. Yeah and Karina invited me to go to Melbourne with them on Saturday but I declined because since they were our ride to work each morning, we’ll now have to walk to AND from work every day. My hope is that by the time

Our roommate

I get paid on Thursday, I’ll have enough money to buy a car so we can make our lives easier. I was all alone on Saturday and I was so lonely! It was weird cause I figured I’d be looking forward to having my own space for the weekend since Sonia and I are together pretty much 24/7. Looking forward to this cooler week! Hope everyone’s doing well! Love always

Life’s What You Make It – Graham Colton