Geoff McCabe

Thank you Alex!

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Alex McNaughtonAlex McNaughton was one of the hardest working and most knowledgeable volunteers we have had at Rancho Delicioso. Upon his arrival, he immediately became a leader here, and taught us, our staff, and the other volunteers a tremendous variety of things that have stayed with us. He also brought seeds and oversaw the growth of many new plants that hadn’t grown here before, and he was instrumental in helping us pull of our first ever Farm to Table Dinner.

Thank you Alex for your very valuable contributions to Rancho Delicioso!

Volunteer Alex McNaughton reflects upon his time at Rancho Delicioso

The swelteringly hot days and hard work leave little time for penning a reflection here on the farm, so it is at the end of my stay that I decided to put together a reflection of my time spent here at the Rancho Delicioso. A reflection in three parts, morning, mid day, and the cool of the night.

    Sunlight bathes the world
    Goats bleating softly, waking
    Birds signing in tune

Baby white goatMorning on the farm starts early, the best time to do some heavy work and get sweaty, before the heat of the day is upon you. The warmth lies like a heavy blanket over the earth, becoming almost too much to handle during the height of the day. I appreciate waking up to the sound of birds in the trees, chickens making their presence known, and the goats, joyfully proclaiming the morning.

I appreciate the morning hours. The day begins with watering, hot coffee and a sparse breakfast, and a morning ‘check in’ with the gang of volunteers, organizing the approach for the day. Caring for the animals also comes first in the day, ensuring they have water and food for the day, an important task that the volunteers approach with diligence.

    Waves of heat shimmer
    Call to lunch echoes over field
    Family around the table

Farm to table dinner prepared for sunsetThe communal meal is a focal point for everyone on the farm, coming together to break from the work and escape the heat, breaking bread together. Generally there is some kind of fermented beverage up for grabs, some more boozy than others. The cooking is collaborative, but each day someone is ‘chef de cuisine’ and champions the cooking and planning for the meal.

After the meal has been consumed, and the dishes washed and put away, a siesta is generally in order. The local workers find a quiet shady spot to nap, as do the volunteers, lounging in the passion fruit dome or walking down to the tiny stream that runs through one end of the property to paddle our feet in. The cool water is heavenly on bug bitten and scratched feet, the tiny fishes quickly come to investigate, nibbling on your toes.

Work resumes after the heat fades, at least a few hours of work to be done before the daylight fades.

    Sky alight with fire
    Shimmer, pink and orange hues
    Sunset hour is gold

The time between the falling light and darkness is typically spent watering, cleaning up tools, and perhaps sitting on a grassy knoll to enjoy a cold beverage and watch the sun go down. The heat fades and the insects emerge, we all quickly close down the volunteer house to prevent the onslaught of tiny creatures that emerge in the darkness.

An evening meal is often collaborative, shared amongst the volunteers after a hard day spent in the fields. Gathering some fresh goodies from the rows in near darkness, preparing a repast for the crew, talk of the day that just was and the day that is to come.

Before too long, my weary bones tell me it’s time for bed. Climbing high into the treehouse that Joseph so graciously allowed me to sleep in, I crawl into the tent and fall asleep in seconds. Waking to the sound of birds the next day, goat bleats echoing softly over the treetops.

Photos by Alex McNaughton

The photographs that follow this reflection are some of the sights I have been privileged enough to experience here on the farm. The vivid color and full flavor of farm fresh produce was not new to me, but the varieties here were definitely strange and exciting. I truly enjoyed the experience of cooking with farm fresh vegetables, fresh herbs and loads of greens, from kale and collards to arugula, mustard greens and Asian cabbages.

I hope these photographs give you a sense of the experience here on the farm, and encourage all those who are thinking about embarking on a journey to the Delicioso Farm to do so, it will be a trans-formative experience, how so is left up to you.