Take This Job & Love It: Blueberry Harvesting 

If you have an idea for an upcoming “Take This Job & Love It” email Chelsey at [email protected] this edition of “Take This Job & Love It,” Chelsey Anderson heads back to her childhood roots. She went to Downeast Maine to help harvest blueberries.Chelsey: “That’s right, I’m no rookie to blueberry harvesting. I worked my way through high school and college raking out on the barrens of Deblois when I was on summer breaks, but it had been awhile since I picked up a hand rake, and I’d never used any type of harvester. So I accepted the challenges, and started with a refresher course in hand raking.”——————-Rebecca “You just have to slide your rake in under and pull back. And your mission is to get all the blueberries. Clean your rake a little and dump it in.”I thought to myself, “Hey, this is like riding a bike.” Until…..Rebecca- “You can’t fill your rake so full.” Chelsey- “I’m getting it too full?” “Yep.” “Am I losing berries that way?” “No you’re smooshing them.”So I worked harder to keep my rake clean and filling my box.Chelsey- “Then I’m going to go with Randy and go behind the walk behind harvester over there.”Timmy made the walk behind look as simple as pushing a grocery cart. I would soon find out it took a lot more finesse than that. Timmy- “So this turns your head and this one moves your wheels.” Chelsey- “Okay.”Timmy- “You just want to keep it in a straight line and put pressure up on it so you get all the berries.””Oh my gosh. Am I going fast enough?”Randy and Timmy seemed to think I was doing all right. They even trusted me to turn the walk behind around!Chelsey- “How was that?” Randy- “Good.”It didn’t take very long before my boxes were full, so I dropped them in place to be picked up later. Before I got to another turn, Timmy took over and I headed for the big harvesters where I’d be working with Rod.Rod- “Start your head. The point is to stay on the outside of the berries.”This piece of machinery is a beast. I watched Rod for awhile before I shifted gears. Then Rod and Randy told me it was time to take the wheel.Chelsey- “Ok. And just take my foot off the clutch.” Rod- “Yep. Go easy. Go easy.”Chelsey- “You hanging on?” Rod- “Yep, I’m all set.”There was concern when the voice on the radio spoke up.”I pray for you.”But I had a job to do.Chelsey- “So I’m watching this red wheel.” Rod- “Keep it this side of the…” Chelsey- “Uh-oh! I think I’m already in them!”I made some adjustments and kept on trucking, until a turn threw me for a loop.”Don’t cut it too much.” Chelsey- “Uh-oh! Wow!”After making it around, it was time for me to work the back of the harvester, and I would be busy. Eric says it’s been a good crop this year with a box filling every 1-3 minutes. And he says they are going for about thirty dollars a box.Eric wanted me to try and keep my boxes pretty clean of sticks and leaves but I wasn’t fast enough for that.Mark, photographer- “It’s getting ahead of you.” Chelsey- “Oh!”I had to pick up my pace.Chelsey- “So pretty soon?” Eric- “Yeah. That’s pretty good.” Chelsey- “Whoops. Uh-oh!” Eric- “That’s alright.”Chelsey- “This is crazy it is really fast. I mean that’s good because it’s good berries, but it’s busy.”It wasn’t long before Eric moved in and took over, and I moved along to see how this process finished. The harvesters dropped off their pallets of boxes and then they were loaded into the truck. Chelsey- “We’ve done a lot with blueberries today. I got to rake them, got to walk behind, got on the harvester, and even got to eat some. After everything we’ve done today would I be hired at this job?” Randy- “You sure would.” Chelsey- “Thanks a lot.” Randy- “All right.”