MY sincere apologies in the delay between these things. Life still ain’t easy, and while there is definitely plenty fun out here, there’s a lot of work too. I’ve been trying to find a job in cannabis for the past couple of weeks, but alas no luck. Things are pretty fucked right now, but lemme jump back to October to really tell it:
If you’ll recall the previous account of my journey in the 2011 harvest I left you last when I had just arrived to my first scene of the season. It was either in South East Humboldt, or North East Mendocino. Tough to say which, and pressing for those kinds of facts is not exactly the best idea. There is a very familial and open element at most scenes, but that sentiment exists with some serious restrictions. Of course folks want you to feel comfortable posting up for weeks on end, and working in less than ideal conditions. So, the folks who run the scenes—who are usually not the same folks who were in charge of growing all the peace—are usually heavy with the motherly instincts, and they try to be as accommodating as possible.
They want you to feel like you can ask for what you need, and they want you to feel like you’re safe and comfortable. But, there is a kind of unspoken limit to that. Basically, facts, and numbers are taboo as you can probably imagine. And while I certainly could have asked someone if we were in Humboldt or Mendocino, I wasn’t really trying to start off as the dude pressin for facts. I was however, trying to start off trimming at least a pound a day.
Trimming a pound a day is the basic goal. It puts you at $200 per day which, even though those days are usually more than 10 hours long, is pretty good money considering the lack of expenses. The amount you trim in a day depends on you, but it also depends on what your’e working with. And this year, that second part of the equation, the variable part, was postin low low numbers. My first day was a half day and I probably trimmed around 200 grams. Which is a little less than a half pound. The peace we were working with wasn’t the greatest, but I wasn’t mad at it. But all I heard was “Oh my god this is so much better than the last stuff! This is the best stuff so far.”
That’s not what you wanna hear when you’re just showin up. But, you take it with a grain of salt too. Most people at trim scenes don’t work as hard as me, don’t know as much about peace as me, and generally seem to be on a different journey. I say this not to brag, but just to put it in perspective. So, while folks were talkin that bleak shit, I wasn’t really hearin it completely. But it registered, and in the first moments of my work for the 2011 season the seed for the theme was planted: no fuckin dice Mr. Moldof. There will be no incredible payout this season, only a reasonable payout (which I am grateful for, so don’t get it twisted) an incredible workload. But I didn’t know that yet.
The first day on a scene is always odd. You’re finding your way around, figuring out the workflow, figuring out where you’re trying to post, figuring out who you don’t wanna sit by, et cetera. It may sound dickish, but you figure this is endless contract work. If you’re surrounded by people or things that distract you your numbers for the day will reflect that. But it’s a choice. You can choose to work slow, and easy, and just not make a lot of money. But I don’t get with that, and that mentality makes me really uneasy, so I’m usually posted alone, with headphones, not tryin to do anything except trim peace. This was no different, and the impending doom of massive student loan debt, no job, credit card payments, and a life out of balance with the status quo was enough motivation to push me to stay bout those grams in my bag.
That’s how it goes, just grams at a time stackin up in a brown paper grocery bag. The big kind with handles. A pound is usually roughly half of the bag, and I was tryin to hit the half every day. You gotta be focused which means chiefin lots of peace, drinkin lots of tea. But you also gotta be human. So, of course, if you’re a real human with thoughts and feelings you’re not gonna be 100% work. You gotta socialize too. And this, Bloglin readers, is where we find ourselves in contradiction to the typical folks who make up a trim scene.
I guess some people are just good at sitting down with whoever, and feeling equally comfortable every time. Me? Not so much. And, as fate would have it young Zachg is very often out of place at a trim scene. On the surface it’s a bunch of young-middle aged folks with white skin. But for me—and likely for a lot of the other folks reading the Bloglin—the commonalities end there. Very few of these folks are Jewish, not that this is a huge deal for me (nor is it some defacto character of Bloglin readers), but it plays its part. There are a lot of hippies, and a lot of burners. Now, I don’t have anything against either of these lifeways, but I think they’re pretty divergent from my own. Very simply I’m a rap dude, and trim scenes are mostly hippy folks.
That’s reductive, but it’s true, and it’s the most efficient way to cover an otherwise tenuous explanation of two things that are different in ways that don’t need to be addressed in words (trust me, I typed and un-typed that several times). It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but let’s just say I can’t be my full and true self at a trim scene because many of my comments, habits, and actions are not taken kindly. So, while the social aspect is there, it is strangely detached for me because I know that I am surrounded by people with whom I have very little in common. Aside from trimming world peace.
Hit the Jump for the rest!
But all that being said, the shit doesn’t really bother me because I’m there to work, not make friends. I woke up on the second day, and made my way over to the kitchen area. The scene was made up of one clearing where the majority of sleeping tents, and working tents were. There was another area right past the main working one where the kitchen tent, trailer (for the scene bosses and cook), outhouse, and sink were. And slightly past that was the clearing where with the hoop house where I had set up my tent. You gotta remember this is all on the side of a mountain, so each area was slightly elevated from the previous. Walking down to the kitchen area before everyone was up and takin in the scenery was awesome. It’s just a vista of mountains followed by mountains, all of it blanketed with trees. I set about fixing myself a pupusa from the harina mix I had seasoned (with cumin seeds, salt, and pimenton) and brought with me. Along with some smoked mozzarella to stuff it with. There were coolers and a steady supply of ice, so we did have the means to maintain refrigerated goods. I grabbed a pan (supplied by the house), and washed it in the sink. The drain simply emptied right out the bottom and spilled onto the ground then flowed down the mountain past the trimming area. It was only cold water, so I said a prayer to protect myself from bacterial infections. I grabbed some of the house’s oil, and fried my breakfast on a propane powered stove. I wasn’t thinking, and in my absent-mindedness I burned the pupusas because propane burns hotter than whatever powers a stove in a kitchen normally. Oh well.
And as the season would continue to unfold I found that I’d be cooking for myself a lot more than in the previous year. Just like every other industry in the nation, cannabis too is going through changes. The revenue stream is changing. Whereas growers used to have a lot more cash on hand, in recent years the price of a pound of cannabis has fallen by roughly 50%. That means that they can’t afford to just run a lodge for people who come to trim peace at a leisurely pace. “You’re on your own for breakfast,” or “You’re on your own for breakfast and lunch,” was the word this past season. It’s understandable. This isn’t a business with such a clear path to success anymore. The game don changed. A lot. But with all the changes that have come about, one thing has remained: the weather.
Believe it or not, the growing conditions in the Emerald Triangle are not ideal. It’s the attitude of the locals that adrew the industry here. It’s actually far too wet in the Winter to run an optimal operation. HOwever, this hasn’t stopped anyone, and many folks continue to produce excellent results in spite of this. But, that being said, even the most skilled growers are fighting an uphill battle every year when it comes to combatting mold. Because of the way that cannabis flowers grow they are especially prone to mold, and powdery mildew (PM). PM can be combatted, or at least minimized, and even a fullblown outbreak won’t necessarily ruin a crop. Mold however, is a death knell. Once flowers are infected with mold they’re no good. Some unethical growers will still pass off moldy flowers, but smoking moldy peace is very dangerous. Especially if you already have a compromised immune system (as many patients do). If the rains come early it can be detrimental to the crop, as it was for the 2011 season.
Heavy early rains caused growers to bring the crop down early. So, in the last weeks when the flowers should have been filling out and ripening to perfection (yes, cannabis flowers do turn ripe, and you can harvest too early) they were being cut down. This presented two challenges for those of us working as trimmers: mold, and LARF. Mold you know, and if you’ll recall last year’s article on the trim scene LARF stands for Light, Airy, Really, Fluffy. LARF is underdeveloped buds, and they were an epidemic this season. Big beautiful branches of cannabis that seemed to hold a bountiful load of pristine colas would produce only a few small nugs. A branch that looked like it would yield a whole ounce (28 grams) of fully-trimmed peace wound up yeilding something closer to 7. But, unlike some other forms of work, the drop in payout did not correspond to a drop in workload. There were still just as many leaves to be trimmed away, just as many branches to be broken down. And to make it even worse, you had to devote extra time to inspecting for mold. Compared to last season, this season’s payout was roughly 1/3 while the workload remained the same.
But what the fuck, no one winds up doin this shit because they think it’s the most efficient means of getting paid. And while it may no have been a great year for my bank account, it’s not like it ends at that. Stay tuned for the wrapup in part 3.- Zachg