We spent the first few days on the farm basically hanging out. They had invited 40 people to come work, expecting 30 to actually come. So when all 40 people showed up with a total of 7 dogs, logistics came into play. Now began the reality show aspect of the experience. They had to find a way to filter out at least ten people. And staffers began to be sent home or to another farm up the road daily. Not only was the staff too big, but the first harvested batch of bud was still drying, and thus not ready to be trimmed. So we spent our time in the garden “Big leafing”, which is hand picking the large fan leaves from the stalks before harvesting, and running smaller nuggets through “the twister”.
The twister is a $15,000 trimming machine that can pump out small, fresh off the stalk nuggets and have them read to go once dried. For 5 days we worked seven to ten hour shifts running the twister. They split us into two groups. The morning group, and the evening group. Morning group worked 8am to 3 pm and nighttime crew worked 3 pm to 10. I chose to be in the morning crew so I could spend my afternoons enjoying what was happening around me. I think my buddy Husky said it best that day: “if I’m hanging out with a group of executives, I’m gonna want to be in the night crew. But if I’m working on a pot farm, I choose morning crew”.
We ran the twister with three crews. There was the harvest team. This was generally two guys who were in the garden chopping down branches with small buds on them and filling tote bins with the fresh stalks, then bringing the bins to the tent crew. These people stood around a table under a tent with piles of fresh cannabis on it and picked the buds from the stems by hand, discarding them into a new bin of buds ready to be run through the twister. The twister crew had generally 4 people in it. There was a person retrieving bins from the tent and running trimmed buds to the dry room. There was a person feeding the buds into the twister, there was someone collecting the nuggets that seemed to magically pop out when ready, and then there was the sprayer. The most interesting thing about the twister is that once it is started, it is best not to stop it until you are done for the day, and it must always stay lubricated as it rotates all day long. The best way to keep the twister lubricated? Pam cooking spray. So all day long we had a person whose job it was to constantly spray the twisted with pam. We went through cases of the stuff. Now, when you go into a grocery or convenience store in trinity county California in the middle of harvest season you might notice a particular display common in most establishments. They are everywhere and they have three items in common: Friskers small trimming shears, popularly used to trim the dried cannabis, turkey baking bags, the preferred bag in the area for a pound of weed, and cases of pam. It wasn’t until I saw the twister in action that I finally realized why the Pam was on display everywhere.
We lost a person or two every day for one reason or another. We all knew some people had to go, but no one knew how it would go down. It started with a guy being sent down the road because he shampooed his dog in the stream on the property and it wasn’t organic. Then another guy got sent home for being too drunk all the time. We lost a couple because the boyfriend got a cold and the grower didn’t want him infecting the whole crew. It was something new everyday and everyday we got more and more anxious to start dry trimming. As a trimmer, that’s your bread and butter. Typical wage is $200 for every pound you trim, so if you can trim fast, hard and strong, you can walk off of a farm with 15 grand.
Eventually one-morning rumors start to circulate that we will begin dry trimming the next day. It turns out to be true and the grower announces at lunch that he is throwing us a party to celebrate the beginning of dry trimming at a restaurant in town. We spend the evening laughing, drinking, joking, and smoking. The group was beginning to meld together. It was a solid crew of really cool folks. Several were from Kelly’s hometown in Louisiana. A couple of guys from Oregon had hitchhiked to the farm after being picked up by Kelly several months earlier and offered the job. There were people who had their own gardens, people who had grown their own herb for years and everyone was completely giving themselves to the experience. We were here. This is what we were doing. This was our life. and we were in it together.