Harvest Moon

Moving on from one of my favorite songs to one of my favorite game titles, I ended up spending over a month on the farm.  I was going to leave after the first week, after I celebrated Thanksgiving with my American hosts.  However my credit card got stolen the day before I was planning to leave and I found myself waiting three weeks for it to arrive.  So what does one do on a farm that long?

The view from the far was stunning on clear days.  It was particularly beautiful at dawn and dusk.  You wake up early on a farm.

The view from the far was stunning on clear days. It was particularly beautiful at dawn and dusk. You wake up early on a farm.

You explore the beautiful natural surroundings.

We visited the deserted half finished hotel of a friend of the farm's.  It had a beautiful view of what I think is Cotacachi Lake.  We later returned for a hike around here.

We visited the deserted half finished hotel of a friend of the farm’s. It had a beautiful view of what I think is Cotacachi Lake. We later returned for a hike around here.

You explore the nearby towns full of retired Americans.

Hilarious Latin American stereotypes means there are Barbies that are too young to have babies in the stores.

Hilarious Latin American stereotypes means there are Barbies that are too young to have babies in the stores.

Otavalo is more known for its Saturday market, but seeing as how I went more than once, I also checked out a cockfight.  It's full of drunken Ecuadorian men at 1 pm.

Otavalo is more known for its Saturday artisan market, but seeing as how I went more than once, I also checked out a cockfight. It’s full of drunken Ecuadorian men at 1 pm.

You do some work as well.  I was on a chicken farm, full of 15,000 chickens.  They butchered them the day before I got there but at least I got to see the new batch.

Chicks are adorable, fuzzy and need to be kept very warm.

Chicks are adorable, fuzzy and need to be kept very warm.

Not all birds are good though, as some nice song birds were eating all the seeding plants before we could collect them.

This is the scarecrow I made, we named it Pip after we learned that seeds are called pips in Ireland and England.  Also their most famous brand of orange juice is called Juicy Bits.  The garden is lovely and Pip is lucky I didn't name him Juicy Bits.

This is the scarecrow I made, we named it Pip after we learned that seeds are called pips in Ireland and England. Also their most famous brand of orange juice is called Juicy Bits. The garden is lovely and Pip is lucky I didn’t name him Juicy Bits.

After we were sure birds weren’t eating all the seeds we continued weeding and seeding.

I had no idea beet seeds looked this interesting.

I had no idea beet seeds looked this interesting.

You hang out with the various animals.

Tigger, the orange kitty, is a garden kitty that follows you and stands at your feet while you try to do anything.

Tigger, the orange kitty, is a garden kitty that follows you and stands at your feet while you try to do anything.

The big project that happened near the end of my trip was an earth house cellar so that the host could expand his prosciutto and sausage smoking operations by having a cool shed to store them in to age.

The earth bodega is made of chicken feed sacks full of lovingly hand shoveled dirt.

The earth bodega is made of chicken feed sacks full of lovingly hand shoveled dirt.

I came to the farm to learn butchering and smoking but it was mostly nonexistent or only handled by the hosts.  However he had to leave due to a family emergency and I stayed a few extra days to try my hand at smoking a ham.

My female host was afraid of the flamethrower and I was more than happy to oblige.  What could be more fun than lighting a barrel full of charcoal with a giant flamethrower?

My female host was afraid of the flamethrower and I was more than happy to oblige. What could be more fun than lighting a barrel full of charcoal with a giant flamethrower?

It turns out you still don’t need too many people to make hams and I’m terrible at heavy lifting so I was only useful in the beginning of the day.

My first tied ham.  Further proof you can just about learn how to do anything on YouTube.

My first tied ham. Further proof you can just about learn how to do anything on YouTube.

The hams sure did look nice at the end of the day though.

The hams sure did look nice at the end of the day though.

My cooking duties continued as well.

Although the pigs, dogs and kitties will all eat leftovers I still feel bad leaving them.  So instead I made leftover oatmeal cookies.  Interestingly, all the blogs with leftover oatmeal recipes for cookies involved huge 10+ children families, the very religious, or people who were gluten free.

Although the pigs, dogs and kitties will all eat leftovers I still feel bad leaving them. So instead I made leftover oatmeal cookies. Interestingly, all the blogs with leftover oatmeal recipes for cookies involved huge 10+ children families, the very religious, or people who were gluten free.

While most of my requests were American or things commonly found in America, left to my own devices, most things I eat are ethnic, heavily spiced, and saucy.

Chilaquiles made with red salsa and Doritos.  You do what you can.

Chilaquiles made with red salsa and Doritos. You do what you can.

And once I got done with all the pies and cookies, I got around to things I haven’t made in a while.

Secretly, I'm a five year old and like yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.  If only I had funfetti.

Secretly, I’m a five year old and like yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. If only I had funfetti.

On my way out the other female volunteer and I got our homesick female host some Christmas ornaments.

Christmas in Ecuador means we get a Charlie Brown like Christmas tree wrapped in a leopard skin blanket.

Christmas in Ecuador means we get a Charlie Brown like Christmas tree wrapped in a leopard skin blanket.

And for myself, I fixed a Christmas present I wanted last year that was sold out.

Why buy a travel spice kit online when you can fashion one in your retiree town with a daily medicine holder?

Why buy a travel spice kit online when you can fashion one in your retiree town with a daily medicine holder?

After a month settled in, it felt weird to pack up again.  However after that break I’m ready to be moving again, to stop working and to explore.  Onwards to more adventure!

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