Working on a potato farm was certainly something that I did not anticipate I would be doing during my time abroad in Northern Ireland.
It all started with good ol' Gumtree. After I had settled in my little student flat, and uni had commenced, I found myself with some time on my hands - and was quite desperate to earn some cash. After a few failed attempts at handing out resumes to cafes (they could smell my exchange student status and thus flighty intentions from a mile away) I had a go at posting an ad online.
A couple of days later, I got a message from a guy called Nick. Nick's text was rather convoluted and full of emojis - and I honestly wasn't sure if I could trust him. What if he turned out to be some psychopath who would lure me to a forest and murder me alive? I would be another one of those girls from 'The Fall' - only this time the blazing Belfast lunatic was not after Irish brunettes, but Australian idiots??
Working on a farm, however, sounded like an exciting prospect. So I asked Nick if he could send me a video of himself before we met up, and if I could bring some friends along with me. Nick obliged - sending a video of himself sitting merrily on a tractor in England, and said he'd be happy to have other students along.
That weekend, I waited at the local SPAR with two French guys - Thomas and Alex, whom had become great friends. Thomas and I grabbed coffees whilst Alex smoked outside. Nick pulled up in a Mercedes Benz and we all piled in, apparently oblivious but excited to what the day may hold.
The scenery on the drive was breathtaking - the rolling hills surrounding us just a glimpse of the pure beauty of Ireland. Nick was a chatterbox - as all Irish folk tend to me, but emitted a sense of kindness and warmth that put any of our worries at ease.
When we arrived, Nick took us to work on the fields. We stood on top of a potato harvester, which spat out potatoes onto the belt above. Our job was to sort through the potatoes - tossing the green ones, keeping the good ones. The belt span so quickly that we were in a constant frenzy and race - but we enjoyed the work and the focus that it took. Any other worries evaporated as our mind was one with potato.
Fast forward a few months, and I was working with Nick on other projects too. I was to stand on the road selling potatoes and vegetables to an assortment of customers, who would always come to have a yarn.
Nick had cows on his farm too, and one of my most memorable moments there was when a cow went into labour. The day was chaotic - the cows had managed to escape from their pen and were sprinting onto the property next door. Meanwhile, another cow was moaning on the floor, apparently ready to give birth. Nick tended to this cow, as I ran around the others, flailing my arms, trying to herd them back into the shed. I had to keep a safe distance as I was paranoid the cows would stampede me, so I'm not sure if my flailing attempts really helped or just agitated them like an annoying fly in the distance. Anyway, either it worked or cows have amazing senses
because after a while they finally re-gathered in the shed, just as the other cow had given birth. Nick had literally grabbed onto it's hooves, and had dragged the calf from it's mother's womb. Now the little calf lay with its mother, eyes wide open.
Nick proved not only to be amazing boss, but a great friend. Nick and I shared many hilarious moments - welding with crazy cats in his shed, blasting ABBA music in his truck. He was a serial youtube watcher and liked to share his latest peculiar insights with me such as 'what your eye colour says about you'. Apparently I, as a green eyed gal, am naturally jealous - go figure.
Although we liked to dig into each other, I will always be grateful to Nick for his amazing generosity. Nick would always look out for me, making hot soup for each work shift, picking me up and dropping me back at the flat. When I left my phone at his farm one time he actually drove to my place to drop it off. Nick wasn't just generous with me - he was generous with his family, always tending to his sick father and giving customers 'discounts' when he thought they couldn't afford the regular price. How I could ever have thought, before meeting Nick, that he could be some sort of psychopath, is now laughable.
Sometimes I think that these days, there are so many stories about men who take advantage of young woman. But there are also so many who do the opposite.