Northern California is a unique scene in the late summer and early fall. Trimmers from all over the world arrive to hand trim thousands of pounds of cannabis.
It’s a mixed crowd. Dreadlocked “wookies” sit by the side of the road flashing cardboard signs with hand-drawn scissors on them, hoping to find enough work to drift for another year.
Meanwhile, locally grown California babes with the fastest fingers on the West Coast compete to trim pounds of the densest tops per hour.
And it’s the underground. There is no weed trimmers union. Experienced folks have good connections with cozy accommodation, organic food, and old friends. Not to mention some of the finest sun-grown cannabis in the world and the opportunity to net thousands of dollars in a few weeks.
But if you're just starting out or are in between jobs, only rumours and guts can guide you, so taking any job is taking a risk.
Emilie had been travelling the world for years. Part of her yearly cycle was to arrive in California just in time for the harvest. A short, cute French Canadian with a shaved head, easy charm and quick fingers, she hasn’t ever had trouble finding work.
It’s not just her warmth or how everyone just opens up to her immediately. Emilie’s laser focus funded travel to India last year, where she studied reiki and yoga, doing her best to find ways to actually help people.
She had just finished up trim in the Kootney mountains of Canada, and her usual farm hadn’t started yet. She figured she might as well pick up a couple of weeks of work.
But the little mountain town she found herself in had a reputation. Everybody seemed to have a story about people not getting paid, going missing, and every kind of misfortune you can imagine.
Emilie was no rookie and knew the stories. Yet, she was motivated for this season. With dreams of travel and becoming a life coach on her mind, she started asking around.
After all, she had been lucky with work so far.
Several years back, when Emilie had just begun travelling in Australia, she found herself alone on her birthday. Long story short, she had just broken up with her boyfriend and was stranded in a strange town with no money or place to go.
Emilie resigned herself to finding a park and figuring it all out in the morning until a cool old hippie woman invited her to stay the night.
When the lady found out it was Emilie’s birthday, she threw her a party and introduced her to her friends. This was the kind of luck Emilie lived by, and the real gift that kept giving was the number of a grower the Aussie had met at Burning Man years ago. He treated people well and ran a chill but tight grow.
But he couldn’t harvest for another couple of weeks. That’s the way it is with plants, you just can’t rush them.
So when a traveller had intel that a farm needed someone experienced immediately, Emile jumped on the chance.
The operation was in town, a plus because most farms are hidden in the mountains and driving off into the midddle of nowhere with a stranger is never ideal.
Emilie’s luck seemed on point again, the situation seemed perfect. She was brought to a house that looked like any other, introduced a friendly crew of trimmers hustling away in the living room. Two of the girls were even from Canada.
The 6 of them sat working in a circle while a smiling old lady brought them sandwiches with the touch only a grandmother has. The crew became fast friends while sampling product, swapping stories, and filling up bins with bud.
The vibe was good. Except perhaps for the 300 pounds of muscle watching MTV on full blast in the next room. The dude was vaguely Middle Eastern, almost 7 feet tall, a shaved head, and was covered with tattoos of naked ladies.
But security wasn’t that uncommon, so nobody really thought twice about it.
Later that night, the owner of the farm returned. He was skinny, short, and pale with a Tupac shirt and gold chain. He talked a lot and was maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet.
He sat down with the crew, poured himself a drink, and started to ramble off conspiracies about how Beyonce was part of the Illuminati. You know, the international secret society that uses mind control to sell more records, eat babies, and rule planet earth.
Hearing a farm owner drop that kind of knowledge is pretty standard in the sheds, basements, and warehouses where product gets processed. The owner's ideas were not even the weirdest and the trim season is a short blast, so the crew sucked it up and worked into the night while the owner and his 12-year-old son shared drinks and joints.
Eventually, the owner revealed why the massive security guard was posted 24/7 too.
The year before, the exact house everyone was trimming in was invaded by a gang. A crew of thugs showed up and held everyone hostage for days while forcing the trimmers to finish the entire crop - for free. He spoke wide-eyed about how the home invaders had tied a girl to a tree outside for days to “motivate” the trimmers to finish faster so their friend could come back inside.