Small Power Tools, Hard Work, and Motivation

In MY ARTICLES, My Farming Experiences by James5 Comments

It’s been a while since my last post and considering I had a new experience i figured it’s time to write something. This past Saturday I once again joined the WWOOF Korea team and headed out to Namyangju to spend the day at Hansol Farm. My girlfriend Anna invited one of her friends named Yu Kyeong this time and it would be her first farming experience. She had heard about our prior farming experiences at Hansol farm, and was particularly interested in the strawberries. Sadly for her however Strawberry season ended a few months ago, and what needed to be done most was some serious weeding. It was a hot and humid day on the farm, and everyone worked hard and had battle scars at the end. The main culprit delivering the battle wounds was a type of invasive vine weed that we needed to get rid of. It was covered in little spiky hairs which not only left scratches all over your arms, but left swollen and itchy scratches.

Hansol Farm

Anna showing off her Weed Blade

I was able to use two  small power tools I hadn’t used in years: A weed whacker, and a chainsaw. I have experience using both, but the last time I used them I was in high school. First I used the weed whacker and did some serious damage to those weeds. However, even though I’ve been working out pretty consistently in the gym using a heavy duty weed whacker for 2 hours straight with no breaks in mid summer will leave you with numb arms and hands. It’s mainly the heavy vibration that wears you down. This weed whacker was much more heavy duty than the ones I’d tried in the past. It had fixed blades, and a backpack style engine you had to wear – like a backpack.



About to get Serious with the Weed Whacker


Yu Kyeong Wanted To give it a Try









Everyone worked hard for a good three hours before it was time for lunch and a break from the heat. As usual we were served a delicious lunch including some of my favorite Korean dishes.


Spicy Tofu, Potatoes, and Kimichi

Takdoritang: Chicken, potatoes, carrots in a delicious sauce

Takdoritang: Chicken, potatoes, carrots in a delicious sauce









Post Lunch Siesta

Post Lunch Siesta

After lunch the 소나기 (So-Na-Gee) hit pretty hard. Sonagee is the word for sudden rain fall. While the rain fell we took a siesta for about an hour. It was nice lying in the open air hoop house listening to the rain and feeling the breeze rush back and forth across our tired and full bodies.

After our siesta we went back to work. We did more weeding and fed the weeds to the chickens who love them. Byung-Soo got out his electric powered chainsaw and asked if I’d like to try cutting some wood. Of course I did. As I mentioned earlier I had operated a chainsaw in high school so it wasn’t my first time with the dangerous power tool. This one was quite small compared to the one I used before and it was electric. I had used a gas powered one before, a quite powerful one – it was the saw my dad used for wood cutting, so using the mini electric version I felt quite confident. I enjoyed cutting the wood for a couple hours. Eventually our work day came to an end. We wrapped up the day like we usually do with everyone sitting down together and enjoying some drinks and some more food. Byung-Soo also gave everyone some of his fresh eggs for our hard work.


Cutting Logs with Electricity


Byung-Soo Sharing his Eggs


From Left to Right: Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Japan x 2

  Final Thoughts of a Wannabe Farmer

With every new farming experience I always hope to have some kind of take away I can reflect on. It’s still early in my journey and now is the time more than ever to be reflective and ask the tough questions always with the theme in mind, the theme being – is this the direction I want to go? The take away I got from this day’s experience was the value of hard and more importantly meaningful work. The day before I headed out to the farm I was in the classroom teaching a small group of students about the elements of story – story writing. On a whim I decided to show them a 10 minute segment from Daniel Pinker’s Ted talk on Motivation which comes from his book on Motivation. The gist is the research shows that people are not motivated by rewards like money as we may intuitively believe  to be the case. Rather there are three primary things which truly motivate people: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. The first one is one of the biggest reasons I’m interested in the farming lifestyle. To direct yourself is to be autonomous. What greater feeling than to live each day being your own master? It’s something most people only dream about. Sure, in a sense we are still directed by the need to produce, and survive, but it’s the freedom to produce the way you want to produce which leads to more efficiency and happiness that I’m after. While I was working at Hansol farm I chose to work hard. Probably too hard considering the heat and my sore muscles for the next couple of days, but I certainly didn’t have to do that. I wasn’t getting paid, everything I was doing was voluntary. But the harder I worked the better I felt. There was of course an exchange of value occurring. Byung-Soo was feeding us and giving us a unique experience and sharing his knowledge, in exchange for our hard work and enthusiasm, which everyone cheerfully gave. However, Byung-Soo didn’t micromanage us and watch our every move. He simply told us what needed to be done and left to take care of other business. We had to choose how hard we’d work, and with autonomy we all chose to work hard, and we all enjoyed it despite the pain that came with it. Mastery is doing something and doing it well. Nobody mastered anything that day on Hansol farm, but we took the first steps to mastery. The first steps for pursuing the farming lifestyle is actually spending working days on a farm. And finally Purpose. There was no doubt the work we did had purpose. Even though it was a simple task of weeding on the surface, when examined closer it was more than just cutting plants. We cleared the farm of overgrowth and allowed access to the chicken houses and provided fresh and healthy forage for the chickens to eat. Everything we took went back into the farm. As I continue this journey I’m always trying to be conscious of my experiences. Transitioning into this lifestyle will not be easy, but if I’m confident I’m doing what’s best to achieve a lifestyle I want, then that’s half the battle. If I’m filled with doubts I will surely fail. So even though this past Saturday could be looked upon as just a hard and hot work day where I didn’t necessarily learn a lot of new farming skills, I see it differently. I see it as further confirmation that I’m on the right path to achieve a lifestyle that motives. Most people are not motivated to get out of bed in the morning to face their job. That is what I’m trying so hard to avoid. Hopefully my journey into farming will continue to be a positive one. I’m officially at the 6 month mark of seriously exploring the idea of becoming a farmer and I’m happy to say the more I learn and experience the greater the desire to pursue this lifestyle grows. Until next time, thanks for reading.

Thanks to Yu Kyeong and Van Tran for the photos in this article.

Since I mentioned it I might as well include it. Below is the video on what motivates us humans. Enjoy!


  1. Addye Thole

    Thank you for this farming experience share!! It was great to see you & Anna & her friend, Yu Kyeong doing your thing & by choice!! Enjoyed the pics…nice hat. Enjoyed what you had to say about, autonomy, mastery, & purpose. By our own daily choices of what we say & do, we can give ourselves those 3 gifts on some level. 🙂 Hope everyone’s scratches & sore muscles are much better!! Great read, thank you.

  2. Hyemi

    Hi James, Lunch looks so delicious!
    It’s very nice to see Yu Kyeong on your post 🙂
    I have 9 to 5 job that I really enjoy getting out of my bed everyday,
    I’m very lucky that I feel this way about my work, because not alot of feel same way toward to their job.
    Hope you and Anna have good summer.

    1. Author

      Hi Hyemi! Yes, the lunch is always the best meal of day, especially at Hansol farm. And Takdoritang is one of my favorites, so that makes it even better. I think Yu Kyeong came to work on a very hard and hot work day… but maybe she’ll come back next year during the strawberry harvest. 🙂
      I’m happy to hear you’re motivated by your job, I think it’s the most important thing in life, that unfortunately too many people don’t experience – and it ends up making everything else in their life toxic on some level.
      Hope you’re enjoying your summer and congratulations on your engagement!

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