We started our coffee harvest in August.
Before we started picking, we talked to our picking crew man and found out that he didn’t have any seasonal pickers from mainland this year, he wouldn’t be able to help us very much. We decided picking the first round by ourselves, hoped to find some pickers later.
Kathy, our friend, is the first committed helper. Nick and Kathy are our very good friends, they had been married over 40 years and had a happy marriage. Nick past away this April, we worried about Kathy at beginning, didn’t know how she would handle her life to be alone. But she showed us all of our worries were not necessary, with all of their happy life memories, she faces the future life with such positive attitude. A very good example for anyone who lose their life companion, I’ll remember this.
One day, after we quit picking, we loaded up our truck with coffee bags, drove home. Kathy’s truck was parked outside of our drive way, it’s a new truck which Nick had chosen and bought for Kathy a few years ago, so she wouldn’t have a vehicle problem for years. When we were slowly approaching our drive way, Kathy, sat next to me, said:” I always shocked to see my truck parked there, the first instinct thinking is, Oh, Nick is here? ” When we were passing her truck, she said with a little cheery voice,” Love you, darling.” There is no sadness, see the truck like seeing Nick in person. I realize how wonderful and deep their love is !
She and Nick used to take care a coffee farm over 15 years, they enjoyed their farming life very much. Later years, with Nick’s health issues, they had to give up farming. Now she is alone, she was looking forward to help us picking coffee before we even started our harvesting season.
We usually start to pick around 7:30am, 50 minutes lunch break, work until 5pm. I was worrying about she works too long and might fall on our rocky land. On second day picking, it was very hot in the afternoon. After 3pm, I asked her a few times, was she tired, did she want to quit? Her answers were always no. At 4pm, I told her the time, she said,” we still can pick another hour, right ?” Of course, we worked to 5 o’clock. She is a hard working lady, I can see how much she enjoys working in the farm. I’m so grateful that Kathy stayed with us and picked coffee beside me, helped us getting through the first round.
Terry’s wrists pain bothered him too much after a couple of hours picking, a result of long years hard working with hands. I told him to stop picking, since I had Kathy picking with me. He could be the cook, so he cooked lunch and delivered the meal to us in the field. At weekend, Sonny and Cal helped too.
There usually are not many ripe coffee at first round picking, but with more and more coffee cherry getting ripe in the farm, I knew only me and Kathy couldn’t handle the whole farm. We kept asking around, checked on Craig’s list, called every coffee picker we used before, but there seems had no hope to find any pickers.
One day, I was waiting for Sonny in car at his school’s parking lot, engine was off, radio was on. I was leaning on steering wheel, looked out my right side window, listening to the music on NPR. A vehicle pulled up and parked right next to my left side, I didn’t turn around right away, was feeling a little down because we couldn’t find any picker. When the school bell rang, I turned off the car, saw a young woman standing outside of my door, getting her child out from her car’s back seat. I didn’t know her, but I had seen her before on mango pickle-ling days. I guessed she is a local, words came out from me without filtering through my brain. “Hi, by any chance, you have a coffee farm and use coffee picker too?” I don’t remember what she said, but I said:” If you know any coffee pickers, please let me know, we could use some help.”
She told me that her husband is a Mexican, he knows some coffee pickers, she could ask him then call me back. I wrote down our phone number on a piece of paper, and told her, my husband’s name is Terry, and I’m Susan. She asked,” Are you the Dakine Coffee Bean?” I said,” Yes. How do you know it?” She said:” Oh, I’m Barry’s daughter, Christi.” Barry helped us two years ago and house-sat our place when we went to mainland last summer.
That evening, Christi phoned and told us that they couldn’t find any available pickers right then, but she and her best friend Mari could come to help. That is how I met Christi and Mari, two strong young women, the best helpers I could ever dream of.
Christi and Mari both have three daughters, elder two girls go to Honaunau school, youngest one stays with them. At weekend, they had the girls came to pick coffee with them. Sonny is elder than them, but they all knew him since he was in student council last year. Now they had the chance to play with him, became his friends, the big boy from higher grade. Christi told me how excited the girls were, after their first day’s picking with Sonny.
Sonny is the eldest one, he carried a hook to bring down coffee branch, so the younger ones can reach, they picked from same tree. They talked, laughed, made a lot of happy noise, sounds like a big flock of chirping birds, made the farm so alive.
We don’t really want the kids picking a long hours, so we set a goal for them, five school kids filled up three buckets together, then they can quit and go to our house play and watch TV. They finished their goal before noon on the first day, each one made $9.00.
I remember how horrible thing coffee picking was to Sonny last year. Now he likes it as long as he picks with his friends, and he can make some money. He looked forward the weekend coffee picking time with his friends, I like this change of him very much too.
Kathy and I amazed by Christi and Mari, they always picked more coffee than us, even they each have one toddler to take care while they picking.
They both are very caring moms. They put a water proof blanket on the ground; big umbrella to protect the girls from sun or rain; toys, food and iPad keep the girls content. They set up the place where the girls can see them, move the site along as they picking. Every time when the girls are crying for mom, they go to them, pick them up, hug them and tell them mom love you. Their kids must have the security with mom’s love, they are very easy become happy and content again. Many times, they just need a couple of minutes attention from their mom, and they always get it.
With Kathy, Christi and Mari’s help, we got through our second and third round of picking. At the end of the day, I drove our truck to pick up coffee bags. Christi and Mari are younger than me, they tried to stop me when I tried to pick up a small bag by myself, not even one third of a bag. They are not bigger than me, but saw how they could pick up the bags, I know they are definitely stronger than me. Together, we loaded and unloaded the truck, nobody was just standing around, not helping. We are similar type of women, not shame to work hard like this, actually enjoy it. So we worked very well together, our picking were clean, very comfortable energy. With these three wonderful women working with me, I had good energy to work and happy every day. they inspired me, made me realize I can do more things if I have to, or If I want to.
We just finished our fourth round of picking last Saturday. Our regular picking crew family came to help since they had some time. I called Christi, she was happy we had some helpers, she had her farm to take care. She told me to call her whenever we need help. How lucky I am to meet a such nice person.
Christi and Mari came to pick coffee, were not because they had lots of time, they both are very busy with their own life. They came is because we needed help, they just wanted to lend a hand, even we just met. I’m so fortunate to know them and Kathy, they are so generous and kind, and they showed me how strong a woman could be.