Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Bunkhouse Diaries

So it's been almost a month here on the farm, I feel it's about time to go into a little bit of detail about my lifestyle here on the farm, to give you a bit of a feeling of just what life is like here.

As you may know, the guys I'm working with come up every year from Mexico for 6-8 months per year to work on farms here in Ontario. The guys I'm working with in particular switch farms about once a month or so, depending on what is being harvested. They'll harvest apples one month, asparagus the next, garlic the next, then more apples, and so on and so forth.

Workers from the same farm usually live together in a bunkhouse, which means different things in different places. Here, it is an old farmhouse with a kitchen/living room, bathroom, and three bedroomsfor six guys. This is relatively spacious; I've heard of 6-8 people living in a trailer, or a house the size of our serving for well over a dozen people!

The day starts about an hour and a half before we go to work—for example, if we start at 6, activity starts around 4:30. Breakfast is usually a combination of leftovers from the previous day, with some beans or eggs that the guys cook. I'm not a big breakfast person, so I usually just stick to my coffee and bread. Half asleep, we go about preparing a lunch to take with us to the farm, and then head out the door.

We're a good 15-minute drive from the farm, and as the only one with a Canadian driver's licence, I'm the chauffeur of our luxurious 1995 Dodge Caravan. Me being entrusted with a vehicle of any kind will obviously disturb anyone who knows how I drive. I'm sure no-one will be surprised by my new nickname, 'taxista' (cabbie), dedicated to my disdain for slowing down at curves in the road.

Dinner occurs right after we get back from work, and it is a communal affair, with everyone cooking and cleaning together. My creations are usually greeted with a mix of confusion and humour. Already my sauteed mushrooms have earned fame as 'ongos halucinantes' (magic mushrooms). The rest of the menu consists of beans, meat of all sorts, eggs, rice, and a mountain of tortillas.

I've been thinking a lot about what to put in here, and there's a lot to say, but I think I'll leave the rest for another time. I'm enjoying things a lot here; the atmosphere is not nearly as tense as I imagined a bunkhouse might be. Everyone gets along and people look out for one another. I'm assured that this is better than normal in a lot of ways—fewer people, less conflict, more laughter and joking around—so I suppose I've really lucked out!


  1. Holy crap dude, your experiences sound awesome :)


  2. I am currently working on a paper for my labour geography class on Foreign Temporary Workers so I am reading your blog because I need to do some sort of a case study.

    Would you be available at a later date to chat about your experience in a informal interview type thing? I know you are probably crazy busy (or not and just don't feel like it) but if you can that would be awesome. I am now going to read ALL of your posts in hopes that I can site them.

    I really hate this class!