My work history briefly, Part I: Farm Worlds

My work history is a somewhat random journey through a variety of work environments, worlds apart from each other. On my official resume I obviously try to cover up the confusing zig-zag course which is my career. I try to form a shared theme of my prior positions, relevant to the job I apply for, to make it look like I was always walking in a straight line towards a meaningful goal.

However, here on this blog I’ll treat my work experiences as raw material for stories and discussions about industries and workplaces and not try to make it look like they were all part of a master plan.

My work experiences fall into four main categories: farm work, short/casual menial jobs, office jobs and self-employment. Here comes, first, the world of farming:

 
The farms

I worked on farms for about 7 years, where I mainly minded grower pigs coming off free range piggeries. In other roles I looked after free range sows and reorganised processes and fencing to solve health- and productivity problems, field-tested equipment for free range pigs, minded conventional farrowing sows, milked dairy cows and hand-fed calves, packed eggs from indoor free range hens, drove for machinery stations and helped out with field work in seasons. Obviously on different properties.

 

This is a workplace.

This is a workplace.

 

This is a workplace.

This is a workplace.

 

This is a workplace.

This is a workplace.

 
Farm school

The farm jobs were in Denmark, where farm lands are not far from the cities. Farm work can count as part of the Skilled Farmer’s Certificate; a vocational education on modules which gives credit points to a range of other degrees related to e.g. animals or food sciences. The Skilled Farmer’s Certificate is a great education with its alternation of theory and apprenticeships, great flexibility and compatibility with other degrees.That may explain its popularity and the varied demographics of Danish farm students (below links lead to articles in Danish):

An estimated 80% of Danish farm school students come from cities or villages , not farms, and about 34% of Danish farm school students were female by the last count in 2010, up from 20% of farm students 10 years ago. Roughly 25% of Danish farm workers are female.

(the links go to articles in Danish language)

So although I felt I was different from everybody else, I fit right into the trend: female and from the city. Just a bit ahead of time.

 

Old abandoned tractor

This was a workplace, once upon a time

 
There is an organic version of the Skilled Farmer’s Certificate. It can be pursued through Kaloe Organic Agricultural Colleges, located on Djursland; in one of the most beautiful regions of Denmark. More information can be found here

 

 
I was half through the Skilled Farmer’s Certificate when I decided to leave agriculture and pursue a white-collar type of career.

I love the countryside and the way a farm connects everything; however the social/cultural match was not very good, and I eventually felt staled in the roles I could get, while also not competitive enough to get better roles. When you are 30+, then it is demotivating to rival with 18 year old boys for the chance to learn to drive the harvester – or alternatively, be stuck inside a dusty pig pen day in and day out (and maybe develop asthma, like I did) doing routine chores.

The fun side of animal husbandry is the opportunity to experiment with production systems, processes and animal welfare implementations. However, demand is mainly for someone to look after and handle the animals the way it has always been done in inflexible systems.

And frankly, even for an animal lover, it is hard to like that many animals: when sifting through overpopulated sties with hundreds and hundreds of fairly identical pigs every day to spot and treat medical and behavioural problems; seeing that the system inevitably causes those problems.

 
pigs-ny-times

 
So, as for learning to drive a harvester, maybe this farming simulator by Giant Software is a better option. Here is a great review from Manapool.

 

Yellow harvesters harvesting a wheat field

This is a workplace. Actually it is a farming simulator, but still.

 

Valtra Valmet tractor from the back

This is a workplace.

 
Escape route

In order to pursue a white-collar career path I needed an academic education, and I had to begin from scratch with a High School or Higher Preparatory Course. I survived a year, changed mind and returned and finished the Skilled Farmer’s Certificate, then got into a business course on dispensation due to good exam results.

After graduating from the business course I had no idea how to use the degree in a workplace. Offices were like alien worlds inhabited by people like my co-students from the business course; who would mysteriously navigate the invisible rules and networks of corporate culture as easily as they navigated the school corridors. I applied for roles like ‘Marketing Assistant’ and attended a few interviews, but maybe I seemed alien to the employers too, because I did not land a white-collar job and continued to work in menial roles.

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