You may call us crazy, but we spent our 2 weeks in the paradise of spas, yoga, smoothies, and luxurious honeymoons cleaning duck shit, feeding pigs, tilling land and other dirty jobs typical of WORKING ON A FARM!
From past blogs, you’ve probably gathered that we seek out local experiences. It keeps us connected to the places we visit and away from the “banana pancake” trail.
Passion fruits right off the farm vine! We ate them all day, every day
What drew us to the Good Earth Farm Bali was an opportunity to learn about permaculture: living in a self-sustained ecosystem designed to follow natural patterns and create minimal waste, using animal systems, and gaining valuable knowledge and tools that we hope to incorporate into our lives.
In our 2 weeks on the farm we had daily responsibilities in addition to special projects. Every morning we had to feed the goats, pigs and dogs, water the nursery, and make sure the garden was clean. For city folk like us, unaccustomed to this kind of work, it was a lot of fun!
The pigs function as a “garbage disposal. They are tough mothers, going through ANYTHING: Avocado peels, spicy chilis, and even the thorny leaves atop pineapples!
The ducks on the farm help clean out the worms in the ground and also lay eggs, that we ate every day! While we were there, a Luwak was sneaking in at night to eat the ducks. In the picture below we are reinforcing the duck pen with a high-tech security system (extra netting) to protect them from the evil predator.
We helped turn this big plot of land from an unkept wild field of weeds to super plantable area by cutting out all the bad grass and putting in some corn seeds.
And we also helped to build the new goat pen. Both of the female goats were pregnant the pen was going to provide more space for this growing polytheistic family.
New life experience: see a goat give birth! One evening, we suddenly we realized that one of the goats was giving birth! We were lucky enough to see the entire thing and welcome two baby goats to the farm!
Quak Quak Quak
A while back, Andres shared a story with me about a chef who was petting a really cute bunny rabbit only to later kill it for dinner, all on live tv! The chef got a ton of backlash but he responded stating something like “we have become so disconnected by what food actually is. If you are going to eat rabbit you should know it was a cute rabbit before it became your dinner.”This really stuck with me and I haven’t eaten meat since (Suz). To keep himself honest, Andres has always wanted to experience preparing his own meal from animal to table. The farm owner informed us that the ratio of male to female ducks was unbalanced and to keep the ecosystem stable they would have to kill one of the male ducks. This is where Andres stepped in.
In his own poetic words:
While holding the duck in my arms it felt like he, the duck, was also staring at the farmer sharpen the piece of bamboo that would go through him in a few minutes.
I could feel his heart pounding heavily on my belly; as though he knew. Still, it was amazing how still and quite he was considering that each time anyone got close to the ducks in the pen they would panic and run away. With the sharpened bamboo-stick now in my hand, the farmer held the duck down while the farm owner grabbed the neck and extended it so I could make a clean stab. The duck did not stand a chance against 3 grown men, and I felt like he let us know this by not protesting or moving. The amount of blood coming out of the jugular was surprisingly very little. The spasms continued for a few minutes until it was completely still. (The farmers promised it was dead a few seconds after the stab, but I was not convinced)
The amount of preparation that is needed between the kill and the meal is amazing. Pulling feathers, cleaning, gutting, cutting, mincing, seasoning and cooking took at least 3.5 hours!
In the end, the duck sitting quietly in my arms with his pounding heart caused an impression. Two months or so later, that duck is the last land-animal meat I have tasted (I still eat fish); I don’t know if I’ll keep it up, but I recommend everyone who eats meat to go through this experience as it might give you a more accurate perspective on what you are eating.
That’s our farming career summarized in a few lines. In case you are wondering, we did not get paid for working, but living at the farm gave us an opportunity to explore Bali for 2 weeks spending $14/day each, in addition to getting a first-hand glimpse of farm life.
Monday through Friday we farmed in the mornings and had afternoons and weekends free to explore. One weekend we visited the north of Bali near Wanagiri; land of mountains, lakes and waterfalls!
2 hours later on our scooter, with a little bit of traffic, and we made it north in time for the most amazing sunset.
While walking around the small town we wandered around and landed in someone’s backyard. After a quick chat, the family invited us to stay for a birthday party to eat dinner and cake, which we happily accepted. It was cool to experience some of the differences in culture here versus other countries we have visited on this trip.
For example, in India or Nepal if we offered to help clean up or wash dishes the family would never allow us. In this house, we were surprised when one of the uncles extended his empty plate towards Andres and pointed at the rice saying in a commanding voice “blah blah blah Nasi,” obviously asking the bule (foreigner) to serve him more rice (Nasi means rice). It felt nice, instead of being the guests we were part of the family and they were not treating us any differently. Also, you could see women telling their husbands to serve them more food, which is unthinkable in India or Nepal: Power to the women!
Amazing nature in North Bali:
Climbing the “Spirit Tree”
Another afternoon we visited the popular monkey temple. This place is filled with tourists but wow it’s fun (and a little scary) to have the crazy monkeys crawling all over you!
Suz had an ice cream and a monkey stole it!
Monkey enjoying Suz’s ice cream
Maybe you’re wondering, “but why didn’t you go to the amazing beaches in Bali?!”
Well, actually Bali is not really known for its calm, clear blue waters. There are a few hidden spots like below but in reality most of the beaches have huge waves and are more of a surfers paradise.
The real beautiful beaches can be found at the Gili Islands just a short boat ride from Bali (or on one of the hundreds of secluded Islands that make up Indonesia). We did spend a couple days in Canggu but most of the time we stayed at our beautiful villa relaxing and tasting every exotic fruit we could get our hands on.
Salak Pondah = Snake Skin Fruit only available in Indonesia!