Stranded in Oregon, Part 5: East Coast v. West Coast Expanded

in life •  3 years ago 

As time wore on at the "farm" in Oregon, our differences with the people there became more clear.  Originally, we identified it as an east coast versus west coast mentality, which was really just a big metaphor at the end of the day.  In situation after situation, we were reminded that we were capitalists stranded in a communist household.  There were disagreements about our share of things, despite the fact that we were doing a lot of the work. In everything we did, the terms were always vague, especially when it came to pay for our efforts.  There were conversations about money and how it's the cause of the worlds problems, although they couldn't clearly argue their point. 

We dove into life on that property in the hope that the work we were doing would be enough to cover our costs.  We knew right off the bat that these people were idealist communists, the "put in your fair share and you'll get it out" type.  We expected our efforts to be enough as we were getting more accomplished than most of the people on that property, but they never were. At the end of the day, partially due to difference in philosophy, nothing we ever did was enough. Living in that household was another reminder that communism doesn't work, as the ones providing value were treated as though they were burdens. 

The first two weeks we were there, despite the ridiculously low yield numbers, were focused on trimming.  Despite technically being overstaffed for trimming, it took 6 people two weeks to trim what ended up being less than ten pounds, probably closer to eight. They were incentivized to take their time, as none of them had to pay for room and board so long as the job was still going.  Considering the fact that most of them were traveling hippies, free room and board for a few weeks was welcome. To prove how slow those trimmers were going, John and I sat down for a just few hours to trim.  In just those couple of hours, we managed to out trim everyone that had been trimming so far that day.

After the job was finally done,  R asked David to weigh everything out into half pound bags so he could have an idea of what he ended up with, which was between 8-10 pounds.  Considering R said his last years harvest was over 100 pounds (although quite a lot was lost to mold, from my understanding), this was depressing.  He had been renting land to farm, as well as to live on, and through a series of shady and unfortunate events, he was forced to move mid-season.  The landlord said he could leave the plants on the property, but no longer trusting the man he chose to move them.  Anyone who knows anything about cannabis farming knows how disastrous a mid-season move can be, so it's not surprising the plants yielded so little. 

Their solution was to get approved for loans to buy their own house and that's what they did.  They lived in campgrounds for several months as things were getting arranged and had moved in literally days before we arrived in Oregon.  This meant that R had to start over on his farm, a big task.  He wanted to cut down trees for various uses around the property, as well as to allow more full sun area in the part of his property he intended to farm.  When John and I arrived, he noticed John's chainsaw and briefly mentioned needing his skills with that in the future.  People laughed at us for bringing our chainsaw all the way to Oregon, but at the end of the day it helped more than we even expected. 

So once the weed was all weighed out, he went through his procedures of paying people.  Beyond trimmers, he had people that had helped all season with the farm, waiting for pay.  He also had investors waiting on payout.  He invited anyone who didn't already live on the property over and one by one took them into the smoke room, where all of the bags were displayed.  He explained the situation and how much their cut would be, each person realistically got about a half pound at least. John and I honestly did not expect to be included in this, as we expected the trimming we had done to mean nothing in terms of pay, especially because he had told us he couldn't afford us.  We did the trimming more to prove a point, which we did. 

At a certain point, he called us into the room.  As payment for what trimming we had done, and pre-payment for chainsaw work by John, he told us to pick out one half pound bag for each of us.  At that point, while he had pointed out some of the target trees previously, we hadn't realized quite the extent of the tree work he wanted.  Realistically speaking, he got a huge deal for everything that got done on that property. 

Almost immediately after moving onto the property, I started working in the kitchen cleaning and cooking for the 15 person household.  The woman who owned the house was always at work, trying to pay for said house, so the house was a mess and still unpacked. In an attempt to reduce her stress level (which I understood was heightened by the two on the run people stranded at her house), I worked every day until the kitchen was clean.  The people that were there had no concept of the amount of work it took to clean up their messes as they'd never been expected to do so.  

I spent between 6-8 hours a day cleaning and cooking in that kitchen just for day to day maintenance.  The intention, in my mind at least, was to try and pay for our room and board as we had no money to contribute.  Considering we were living on a communist property, going off of the ideals of communism alone (and not the ass backwards reality), this should have sufficed. I was appreciated at first, but it quickly became something that I was expected to do no matter what. I was easily contributing more of my time than just about everyone else who was living on the property off of their dime, yet we quickly became the heaviest burden in their eyes. 

This came largely from the fact that we were the only adults on the property that didn't have food stamps.  There were repeated conversations where they suggested we get on food stamps, as we didn't have enough money to pay for our own food at the time.  Apparently, 8 hours a day of work was not enough to cover the food costs of two people. We repeatedly expressed that we were unwilling to do so, considering the fact that we were on the run.  We weren't interested in risking bringing government around after us, despite them saying that Oregon's system would keep us safe. 

At the same time, once the papers on the house had been signed, John was spending similar amounts of time outside doing chainsaw work.  By the end of it he cut down 25 trees, four of them considered highly risky drops.  His chainsaw work ended when his chainsaw broke, which we later found out was due to Oregon rock dust ending up in a piston, making the chainsaw useless.  Had he been paid on the east coast for the same work, he would have been paid between 800 dollars (that being the homie best friend hookup) all the way up to 3500 dollars (professionally speaking).  Considering the low prices of weed in Oregon at that time, the whole pound didn't even cover the costs of the work that was actually done, broken chainsaw not considered.  

Dabs were always an issue, as there were never enough to go around.  For the most part in the first several weeks we were there, John and I were making the majority of the dabs with help from David and the others who were really just trying to learn his method.  When we do dab jobs normally, the terms of our cut are always discussed before the job started.  We tried to do the same with this place and met resistance, as they weren't interested in looking at dabs like they were money.  We were repeatedly encouraged to go with the flow and work hard, what we needed would be provided.  There was always scarcity on the property though, with everything from toilet paper to food. 

The way they the dabs was that people would just do whatever dabs were in the smoke room, until they were gone, regardless of who paid for the butane and put in the work. There was some control when we first got there, but by the time the other three trimmers left, it became a free for all. For us to get any cut at all, we just did whatever sized dab we wanted, with complete disregard for anyone else.  If we didn't, someone else would, and it was generally someone who had nothing to do with making them.  

These differences came to a bit of a head in a conversation John had with several of the men on the property.  R and Carl were expressing the belief that money is the root of all the problems in the world.  There were others involved, albeit more passively.  John asked them questions, trying to determine at which point money became evil. 

They believed in barter and trade, but when it came to actual money they had a huge problem with it.  They couldn't see the connection that things of value, like water or chicken, could be considered money.  Their true enemy was government fiat currency, although they wouldn't necessarily admit that.  They had the viewpoint that interest on loans is evil as well, but when confronted with real life farming examples they agreed with us.  It was extremely clear by the end of the conversation that they had some heavy cognitive dissonance.  It was like the stoner hippy version of the money conversation many ancaps know so well from Rand's Atlas Shrugged. 

Despite our best efforts to live as we were advised to by David and other friends on the property, we were treated like shit.  They talked about us as if we were freeloaders when we were the one's spending our days working on the property.  The only people who were respected for what they contributed were those on food stamps, who were required to turn their food stamps over to the house once received.  It quickly became clear that it was not what you did that made a difference there, it was who you sucked up to.  As we disagreed with people and stood our ground on our beliefs, people got more hostile with us.  Things came to a head when we almost got kicked out, something I'll share in the next post.  As soon as it became clear that our physical efforts would not be enough, we started working on providing our own needs.  Our goal was to get off that property as soon as possible, to leave them to their communist mess while we searched for greener, more capitalist pastures in Acapulco, Mexico. 

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An enjoyable read. Upvoted and followed. Thank you.

I'm glad you enjoyed it, it was a crazy situation to live in. Thanks for reading and following :)