Cheryl & David wrote to us with the following inspiring account of their experiences on the fruit picking trail:
My husband and I lost our jobs, through a caravan park takeover, and suddenly found at 41 years of age, we were unemployable, in our usual employment industry. So here we were, out of work for 6 days, and panicking. What were we going to do? We had bills, we had a lifestyle we liked and no income to keep it going. David’s brother, showed us a local newspaper with jobs available in the Byron Bay area. Blueberry Pickers Wanted! We jumped at it packed the tent into the car, forgetting most of what we needed.
It was the scariest thing either of us had done in our whole lives. Three days later, we were at the farm gate, dressed to work, lunch, water, hat, sunscreen and good boots, and we were fruit pickers.
Day 1. They showed us how to pick the fruit properly, because they don’t pay for a bad bucket of fruit. We didn’t speak to many people, feeling useless and like green horns at a rodeo. Others were picking so fast we couldn’t believe it. They were from all over the world, all ages, types, the diversity is unbelievable.
That first night, we were hot, sun burnt, sore feet and shoulders, just exhausted, from trudging up and down these hills, with 1 kilo buckets of blueberry’s, trying not to hurt them.
Day 2. Very hard to rise with the alarm clock at 4 am, trying to eat quietly, in the caravan park, pack the car and not annoy others. By the time we got to the farm, it was light, people arriving, signing in, getting dressed, we were all the same. Some came up and asked how we went yesterday, chatting about how we picked and the weights we all picked. It ended up like old home week. The picking was a bit better that day, we understood a bit more about what to pick, what not to pick, when to pick, how ripe, overripe, everything was so new and becoming wonderful. When we left that day at 4pm, yes we were tired, but not exhausted like yesterday. We talked on the way back to the caravan park, realizing we were both starting to enjoy it.
Day 3. Well that alarm went off, we were not complaining so much this morning, the drive out, we were talking about what we would be doing today, who we might meet today, or be working with. Back doing the same today, but it felt different, it felt friendly, we were laughing with our fellow pickers, having jokes, lunched with everyone else, under the shade on the only tree on the property, more laughs. Finished at 5pm today, and on the way home we decided that this was the life for us. We loved it, we loved the people we worked beside, the bosses were terrific and very friendly and helpful. We wanted this change in our lives, it was fresh, exciting, yes some days were hard, but it was getting easier everyday.
On the way home (the caravan park, lol) we decided when the pick was over at this property, we were going to sell everything we had put in storage, pack the trailer with all our goods, and hit the road to the next property.
As I said to start, that was 12 years ago, the only thing different now is, I got sick, they pensioned me out of the work force, at the ripe old age of 48 years but I thought I could still work a little, and when I told the farm property we were at, they didn’t mind, they would put me in the packing shed, with a stool to sit on and I weighed the fruit the others were picking. We were still out there.
Now I can’t do it anymore, we had to decide what to do, we went home, dragging our feet, dejected, depressed, and angry at the world, but it didn’t take us long and we wanted out of the house we rented, so we up and sold everything again, joined a few web sites with House Sitting contacts, and we loved it so much, we are now doing that full time, we advertise ourselves on two sites for a small fee, we live in other peoples homes, units, flats, caravans, what ever, and look after their precious animals while they get out there and do it. We just love it. David has even joined the ABT Bream Tournaments, and we travel around so he can fish in the different tournaments and we still house sit, or just holiday, but we are still out there, doing it.
We are so glad to be alive.