“Here comes the sun, do-do do-do, here comes the sun, and I say it’s alright…”

My eyes snap open. I roll over, tap the snooze button on my tablet, and flop back onto my bed. Five

minutes later, my favorite Beatles song and least favorite sound in the morning cheerily pipes back into

the dark,

“Here comes the sun…”

It doesn’t make it to the next line before I smack the button again. I tumble out of bed, flip the button

on my tea kettle, and drowsily stomp to the bathroom. It is 5:30 am, and this is the fourth day of my

week of farm chores.

Chores weeks tend to be dreaded because of their incredible inconvenience, but respected for their

necessary part of the community. Twice a day for a full week, a pair of students contributes their time, energy, and

precious slumber time, to the health and wellbeing of the school farm. These hours count towards

money we receive to alleviate the pain of tuition costs, and our time put towards farm work eases the

school’s costs for hiring outside work. Chores also come in the form of kitchen chores, where students

give time at each meal to wash dishes and keep the dining area tidy. As much as we grumble and

complain about it, and pity others who are currently working, it’s not all that bad. These opportunities

teach valuable lessons in responsibility and reliability, as well as cultivating that feeling of pride and

accomplishment in physical work.

After piling on layer upon layer of wool, Under Armor, and caffeine, I strap on my Muck boots and begin

the trek down to the farm, travel mug in hand. The walk is bitterly cold, to be sure, but there’s

something clean and sharp about beginning the day with the sunrise. For the first few days of my chore

week, it was completely dark on my walk down, but this morning, as I stepped out of my dorm, I noticed

a sliver of pink and orange across the horizon. Days are getting longer, and I feel blessed to witness both

ends of the light.

Once I get down to the barn, I’ve already forgotten that five suffering, snooze-button minutes. The

bleats of hungry goats and squealing of dramatic young pigs kicks me into gear. My chores partner is not

far behind, but I’m always up there first so that I can feed the pigs; they’re my favorite. We measure out

rations of assorted grains, pellets, mixes, and hay, and distribute them among the animal city that is the

Sterling Farm. As we pass through each pen, we take turns hauling frozen rubber tubs outside to break

the ice out for refilling of warm, fresh water. The noisy barnyard symphony dies down to a lull of

munching and shuffling, and the occasional squeak of swine disagreement. During this time, my partner

and I take the opportunity of distracted animals to muck the dirty corners out of the pens. Again, I rush

to the sow’s pen. I’ve taken it upon myself to include “give Lucy a massage” as part of official chore


As it nears 7:30, our chores coordinator releases us from our duties. We make the hike back to campus,

pour ourselves a steaming cup of tea or coffee each, and collapse into the padded chairs outside of

Dunbar Dining Hall to await to breakfast. My day will go on – this morning in class I will learn to ski, and

then after lunch my half-built paddle awaits me – and then afternoon chores before dinner. It’s highly

unlikely I’ll see my room again before bedtime. As I sit, enjoying my hot drink, a friend early to breakfast

may join me,

*sniff sniff* “You smell like farm chores.”

Yes. I do. Isn’t it great?

Me and Cher Photo by: Nariah Lynette Odums

Me and Cher
Photo by: Nariah Lynette Odums

Filed Under: Blog Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Work