A few days ago I received a comment from someone in South Africa about a story that was posted in the Rapport in South Africa.  The story spoke of guys returning home from the US after working over here for various farmers.  The story talked about the South Africans being treated like slaves it talked of their long work hours.  I appreciate the email from South Africa as it forced me to sit down and talk to each of the guys a couple days ago regarding their experiences here at Olsen Custom Farms.   I asked each of the guys who will be going home sometime soon how they felt they were treated by us and how they felt their harvest season went for them.  Most of the guys would like to see the living quarters updated so that’s on the top of the list for us to do before next spring.  Here’s what else they had to say:

Dirk – “Many days there are long hours, but it’s not hard labor.  We still get treated good here.  This is my second year here and things just keep gettng better.  I enjoy the work and it’s like a hobby to me.  I would like to come back next year.”

Marcel – “It’s heaven here.  I don’t care about the  hours because the job has to get done.  We do work some long hours but we get to do nice things when we are done.  The trip to Moline, IL was nice and it is nice being included in the family gathering here at the farm.  I will be back in March of 2008 to work again.”

Gustav – “Everything here is hunky dory.  I don’t have a problem with anyone.  I’ve worked longer hours than this in South Africa harvesting grapes for wine.  We get days off when we need.  I’m here mostly for the experience and when I go home I am going to use my money for shooling but I’d like to come back here in 2009.  A happy worker is a hard worker.”

Mark – “I’ve been treated good here.  You guys have been good to work with.  The days with the long hours is part of the game.  I would also like to come back next year.”

Dan – “If you know you are coming here to harvest, you should know you are going to work hard.  Chad has been a great boss.  I think  some guys come over to the US to work and do work for some bad farmers and those are the stories they take home so then everyone thinks that is the way it is over here.  I’ve saved money and learned much.  I came here not knowing much about this work so I’ve gained much experience.”

Andre -“It was hard being here in the beginning.  I got here late and everyone else had already been working for a month.  For the first week and a half, all I could think about was going back home.  Finally, I started getting the hang of what to do in the trucks and combines and then started having fun with the rest of the guys.  Back home I didn’t work that hard and I never finished any of my projects.  The experience I’ve had with OCF has been a life changing experience in a really good way.  I now know that project started must be finished.  I worked in London before but from now on, I want to come to America to work.  I hope I can come back to work with Olsen Custom Farms next year.”

Will – “We were treated really good here and I met some really good people.  The experience has been very good.  Yes, there were long hours but work is work.  I want to come back again next year.”

Deon  – “I’m coming back next  year so hopefully that shows how I feel things went this year.  I knew it was going to be hard work before I came here.  There were long days but it wasn’t that way all the time.  I’ve had much fun and the people here have been very friendly to us.”

Burt – “I was treated very nice here.  I came over here to work for someone other than Chad (Olsen Custom Farms) but I was treated badly.  The other farmer made us pick rocks by hand in the middle of the night and other things.  I’m glad I found Olsen Custom Farms.  I would love to come back here to work again next year.”

Shawn -“Everything is good here and the people have been good.  Even bad days somehow turn out to be good.  We do sometimes get in trouble by Chad or Luke but sometimes we deserve it.  If we broke something and it was our fault, we should get in trouble.  I talked to Marcel in South Africa who had worked here before and he told me this would be a good place to come.  The pay is fair and I’d lke to come back next year, especially if you put in a pool table.”   (Hmmm.)

Paul – “I got along good with all the guys and have not had a bad experience in America.  I can’t recall any bad incidents here at all.  At first it was difficult to adapt because I didn’t understand some things at first and it was confusing.  My advice to others would be to make sure you understand instructions to prevent accidents.  I liked receiving compliments when I did good things.  That was more important to me sometimes than the money.  I liked being treated like a real person.  Even the guys like Jake who had worked here for years before didn’t make us first year guys feel any less important.  I can honestly say that OCF has been the best work experience of my life.  The variety of work is great and the equipment is new.  If there was ever a problem, it got attended to right away.  It was pleasing to me to see Chad (owner of OCF) in a truck or combine right next to the rest of us.  He never made us feel like he was any better than the rest of us.”

Johann – “I’ve had a good experience and the people are friendly.  I didn’t know what to expect but it made me feel very welcome when we spent Easter with your family in your home.  Chad is a good boss and easy to get along with.  He’s the best guys I’ve had to work with and Luke is as well.  I’ve worked other places but I’ve had the best experience in America.  I would like to come back again.”

AJ – “I had a bad experience last  year for a farmer in South Dakota.  He treated us badly.  I would come back to Olsen Custom Farms again and again.  I guarantee you, this is a place that will make you a man.  I’ve learned not to give up.  Keep trying until you get it right.  I would also like to come back here.”

Waldo – “I was treated well by you, Chad and Luke.  I don’t have a problem with the long hours.  People should know that before they get here.  I came here for the money and the experience and trucking was my favorite.  I like trucking very much.  People were very kind to us and no one could ever say anything rude about Olsen Custom Farms.  I would come back here again to work.”

Jake and Alex – I’ll track them down sometime soon to get some comments from them as well.

So, as you can tell from the guys, life here is pleasant.  There are some tough days on the tour and I’m not trying to hide that at all.  I think every job will have its good and bad days.  But at the end of the day, the guys know that they are working for a family that sincerly cares about them and their well being.


Travis Olsen