The Famous Carrot-Picking Post

The Famous Carrot-Picking Post

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When I talk about my time in Wales, it’s usually the story about picking carrots that people want to hear. Not only is it kind of funny but it also marks a HUGE point in my life (a point that I didn’t even know it was marking at the time). It’s when my soon-to-be husband fell in love with me. At the time of this experience and in writing this post, we barely knew each other. That changed when THIS happened…


Originally posted: November 2005


I was in bad need of money so I took on a job as a carrot picker at a local organic farm.

What the HELL was I thinking?

The first day wasn’t awful… I must say, although I came back griping and freezing it was actually a pretty good day. We thought we were pretty well equipped as far as clothing went. I bought pants, boots, and two old shirts at the charity shop and Monika bought a new pair of boots. We packed our little lunches and prepared for rain, wind, and chilly weather. We were styling. We were ready.

We were wrong.

The woman who picked us up (Becky) looked at us when we first got in the car like, “Hmmmm….this might not work.” She was so sure that before we even arrived at the farm she told us that if we wanted to back out at lunch that was okay. I thought that was a little strange, but whatever. We knew it would be hard work. We were ready!

The drive to the farm was gorgeous. Not a cloud in the bright blue sky and everything as green as it could be. We ascended a large hill and the whole valley was spread out before us with a panorama view.

As soon as we hit the drive, however, we understood something that we had previously miscalculated: the mud. Okay, so it’s been raining almost nonstop for the past two weeks. But we didn’t think the mud would be nearly up to our knees! Obviously, our boots would not be good enough. This was immediately rectified by Becky when she found two extra sets for us. Of course, mine were four sizes too big for me and came up over my knees. She then gave us some waterproofed pants to put on over our regular pants. And then gave us big coats to put over all of THAT. My coat came three inches past my fingernails and reached my knees which meant you couldn’t see anything of my legs at all. Monika kept cracking up whenever she looked at me. Because the boots didn’t fit properly, I had to kind of drag my feet when I walked, and since the pants were also too big they drooped. I looked like a rapper. All I needed was some bling.

We were then deposited to the foreman, a gorgeous Welshman named Ruin. Or something like that. He said his parents had a sense of humor. He was tall with thick wavy black hair and big blue eyes. Reminded me a lot of David Farrar. Tomorrow I will try to take pictures of him and everyone else. But from here on our I will refer to him as “Hot Guy.” I say this because that is how I have since referred to him at home. We had to follow Hot Guy to the field and the first little bit was uphill. He walked really fast, and Monika is very tall, and with my boots by the time I got to top I was huffing and puffing. When Monika asked me what was wrong I told her that it was my asthma. She said I should have told him to slow down but I told her that it was okay if I complained to her but that I didn’t want to say anything to him. She was like, “Ah, you don’t want him to see your disability yet. I get it.”


So, Hot Guy took us to the “lower field”, whatever that meant since they were both on a hill, and showed us the rows. We were to work together. That’s right. We live together, eat together, drink together, and go out together. And now we are working together. We were the only girls. The other five people who were working were, ironically, Polish and did not speak a lot of English. Or maybe they didn’t want to. Anyway, Hot Guy asked Monika to translate. I told Monika that she should charge extra for this service and that I would even build her a website called


Hot Guy

At first they gave us huge gloves to work in but since I controlled my hands only a little better than a retarded monkey would in them I took them off. Monika did the same. We thought it was really beautiful up there on the hill and every once in awhile stopped to admire the view.

Picking the carrots wasn’t that bad. Since we had the end of the row as a goal the work went by quickly. We talked when we wanted to and were quiet when we wanted to be. We can do that with each other. The funny thing is, when you have all of that time to yourself your mind tends to wander. And It generally settled on stupid things. Monika kept looking at me and cracking up and I kept thinking that I had scratched my face and left mud on it. (I don’t quite think that’s what it was. I have been getting some very strange looks lately anyway. Must be the elephant again.) I, on the other hand, kept thinking of that line in “Star Wars” when Leia says, “I love you” and Hans Solo says, “I know.” Why that kept running around, I don’t know. But it was getting me tickled. The other people, most notably Hot Guy, must have thought we were strange because we kept laughing out loud and not sharing. At one point Monika pulled out a big carrot and splashed mud all over my face. It was funny but she felt kind of bad so she goes, “Throw mud on me!” right as Hot Guy walked by.

Time flew by and then we went to lunch. We had to walk back down the hill to the farmhouse to get my bag and Monika was concerned because Hot Guy said we had 30 minutes. She seemed to be afraid that with the way I was walking we would only have time to get there, grab the back, and come back up. Hot Guy then clarified that we had 30 minutes ONCE WE GOT THERE. This was good since it took me ten minutes just to get back to the road.

Becky met us at the farmhouse and offered to fix us some tea. She then said that she was going to pick up her son at 3:00 and that we could bail out then if we wanted to. Apparently a lot of people do that. Strange. But no, we were fine.

Every time we went back to the house Hot Guy loaded us all up in the tractor and drove us across the muddy field. This was a great amount of fun. Kind of like being on a hay ride. At lunch I taught everyone how to say ya’ll properly (what is it with Brits and this word anyway?) and by the end of the day Geran could even say, “Can I come to your house and sit on your veranda and eat Kentucky Fried Chicken?” in a passable Kentucky accent.

As soon as we got settled back in, the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, and the rain started. Lovely. Luckily, I had remembered my hat. Hot Guy worked near us for a little while and he and I talked. Monika had her head wrapped up in her hoodie and was somewhere off in what I can only imagine to be a warm dry place.

It’s still hard work. Your hands get numb and chapped, your feet get cold, your back aches from all of the bending over, and you’re knee deep in mud all day. And my face even got a little sun burnt. But the money is really good. I have made in two days what I made at the Boys and Girls Club in almost one week. With the weather so nice, it was good to be outside too. It’s amazingly beautiful up there. At one point, with mud on her face, her fingertips bleeding, and a noticeable slower pace going on Monika said with absolutely no trace of irony, “We are really lucky to be here.”

After several hours of increasingly sinister mud, even more sinister clouds, and ungodly amounts of rain, it got dark and we were able to quit. It got really dark. Was it 8, 9 o’clock maybe? Nope. 4:30. It was time to go.

I began walking back to the tractor but I’d taken just two steps when suddenly-SPLAT. My feet had moved, but my boots had not. I was face down in the mud. And, oh God, was it cold. Covered, head to toe, with muck. Not only that, but I was stuck.

Hot Guy had to literally dig me out, pick me up, and carry me to the tractor. I was mortified.

They wrapped me in plastic for the car ride home. 
Back at the dorm everything hurt. I wanted a shower, or possibly Nicky’s bathtub, and to eat. And I wanted to slip away before anyone saw me. Alas, this was not to be. I had locked myself out of the room. I gave reception a call and then sat down in the kitchen to wait it out.

“Please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me,” I kept chanting silently to myself. I had mud my ears, up my nose-in places I didn’t even want to THINK about.

Of course, Pete came in and saw me right away. “Yeah, we thought about you all when it started to rain. And maybe we chuckled a bit,” he laughed.

Yeah, no doubt.

Thankfully, he offered me use of his shower and I didn’t think twice about it. It was so good to shower in a bathroom that didn’t flood as soon as the water was turned on! I didn’t have anything to wear when I got out and although Megan said that I was “working the towel” I ended up wearing Nick’s pajama pants and Pete’s shirt. I still wasn’t warm from the rain though and bundled up on Nick’s bed with his bear rug around me and Pete’s coat over my head. Rachel rubbed life back into my fingers.

I can’t believe that the best-looking guy in my building saw me covered head to toe in mud. He says that he offered me the use of his shower because I was smelling up the kitchen. Nice. 

You know, though, Pete doesn’t get enough screen time here. I should throw something in for him. Despite the insults, disses, and patronizing tones he throws out on me he did do something nice while I was thawing out. He got hungry and walked down to the store. When he came back he had bought me a candy bar. Before handing it to me, he looked at Rachel and said, “You don’t get anything. You look healthy.” So maybe that’s not the best anecdote.

Hmmm…something else. Okay! After I finally got my room open and got dressed, I returned to Nick’s room and was reading the paper. Pete walked in and told me I looked nice. I was in my red flannel pajamas, had wet hair, and no makeup. I told Rachel and Monika that if there was any truth in that whatsoever I have no reason to fix myself up for the rest of the year. I’ll just start walking around like that. Much less effort. Wait, I kind of do that anyway. Never mind.

Nicky and Andrew entertained me during dinner while I devoured a whole package of pasta. Nicky also lent me her boots (my size) to wear tomorrow.

Ahhh….I am now a professional carrot picker. And you thought I came here just to study!



** Pete and I began dating several weeks later. Up until this day, we’d barely exchanged 10 words. He later admitted, to my mom (no less) that he offered me the use of his shower because he liked the idea of me being in his dorm room. We’ve been married for 10 years.

Rebecca & Pete on my birthday
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2 Replies to “The Famous Carrot-Picking Post”

  1. A really cute story. If your husband fell in love with you looking your worst. Then he saw something deeper in you than physical appearance. That’s a very good thing !!

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