Thursday, 11 May 2017

Life of a Grape Picker

I made it through the grape picking season, well, 18 days of it. I have mixed feelings of it being done and over with. On one side my back is very very happy thats its not being put through its paces. I can't describe the pain my back has been in and when I've come home afterwards, the pain to just lie on my bed to get it straight is unreal. On the other side, my bank balance isn't looking forward to 6 weeks with no work. This will be a testing time and although i have applied for jobs, no one seems to want to hire anyone thats a backpacker. I am not surprised because they need long term people, but it is also just frustrating. This probably won't be a long post, but i just thought it would be a good idea to explain the typical day as a grape picker.

Okay, so, I worked with a farming agency down in Margaret River. For me, i wanted the security of not being screwed over at the end of the 88 days. Okay the pay isn't as good, but for me, its the trust and security of knowing I'm going to get my papers signed once I've finished. The typical day would all begin with a text. I have never known anything more annoying then having to wait for a text to say your working the next day. It would usually come around 4pm to 5pm, so you were basically waiting all day. It was even worse if you hadn't worked that day, as it made the days just drag on. Once I had received the text, i would get my bag ready for the next day. I would prepare some food, fill up my water bottles and make sure i had everything i would need. I normally left my snips and gloves in my car. Not sure why, but i just did. Once the early morning came, we usually started anywhere from 5.30am to 6.15am. I'd drive down to the office, park up and then just waited for my name to be called. It was like at school, waiting for the register to be done, except you got your tickets for the day and a piece of paper with directions and all that fun stuff on. We would then have to queue up in a line and the drivers would have to stand on a step. The non drivers would then be allocated cars to go in. I started off standing at the front, but i found myself slowly heading towards the back, just so i didn't have to make that awkward chat first thing in the morning. We then all met at a little spot down the road to follow our supervisor to site. I got lost. Twice. My little tin can just can't go fast, so he really struggled to keep up with everyone.

I forgot to say, the boss of the agency would give us a kangaroo briefing and what to do if we hit one. I only had that once and funnily enough on that day, we hit a kangaroo. Luckily, it wasn't my little car as i had a flat tyre, so i hoped in with another girl. I didn't even see it, but i felt it.

Anyway, once we were at the vineyard, we would get ready and then head of to the spot we were picking at. The supervisor would run through the usual spiel like don't pick disease or bird pecked grapes and fill your buckets up. Closer to the end of the season, i just zoned out at this point. Once you've heard that bit a million times, you know what your doing and its the same speech every time. We would then find our picking buddy and if you didn't have one you would get to pick on your own. I normally picked with people, but i did pick on my own a few times aswell, which i quite liked as i didn't feel like it was a competition, nor was i rushing to keep up with the other person. I think it was on my 2nd or 3rd day, i witnessed people running to the next vine panel. I think i laughed in my head and just thought why? Why would you run to a grapevine? Why would you run fullstop? But yeah, i slowly got used to it. I sometimes used to be really annoying and just walk really slow in front of people, but I'm a bit of a dick like that. 

I was expecting grape picking to be the hardest thing ever. Don't get my wrong, at times it was hard and other picks were easier, but its not as hard as i expected it to be. I think on m first day i picked  6 buckets and by the end i would at 78, so you do get quicker and you get a good routine and strategy of how to do it quickly. I wasn't the quickest person there by far and there were some people, who did 130 buckets. I don't know how anyone can pick that fast without taking something. There were also some good perks working on a vineyard. It was the Thursday before Good Friday and the manager and CEO of the vineyard came out and gave everyone a bottle of wine, which was so nice. As a t-totaller, i gave mine to my aunt and uncle. Towards the end, the owner of one of the vineyards supplied us breakfast. Oh. My. God. I am not a fan of salted caramel nor cream, but they had a selection between sweet pastries and donuts. Obviously i went for the salted caramel and cream donut and this thing was like heaven. It was so bloody delicious, words cant describe how amazing it was. Finally, on our last day, the same vineyard that supplied us breakfast, bought everyone a beer, which was so nice of them. I was the only one not to drink it, but it was still such a kind gesture. 

So thats pretty much the typical day in the life of a grape picker. Not very exciting, but it has been fun and I've met lots of different people from all across the world. I cant say I'm looking forward to the pruning, as 8 hours days in the rain, isn't my idea of fun, but i know that the 70 days i have left will be over in a flash. I hope. 

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