Adventures in Weed Trimming

The familiar smell of marijuana greeted us as soon as we stepped from the car. "This is definitely the place", I said. After 6 hours of traveling from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles to the sleepy, quiet dirt roads of Lake County, we were tired, aching, and ready to be immersed in a world of weed. Over the next two days, Phoenix Askani and I trimmed a collective (8 + 6) (10 + 10) (2 + 2) 38 ounces of Northern California’s finest outdoor cannabis, just over a pound each. And we learned a few things about the local growing community in the process.

                                  "she was actually the one to teach me that little nugget of information"


The house itself was modest in style and furnishings, basically four walls and a roof, and a couple of old couches. Even the utilities were minimal, to prevent unwanted service calls. Robberies are not uncommon in the marijuana growing business, and the grow house is not used as a residence, just business. A few days before we arrived someone had attempted to breach the fence on a scouting mission, and yet another house in the area had been successfully hit the week before. Whoa. Our hosts, one of whom had been growing since the 1970’s, told us that even though they could grow year round, they follow a six-months-on / six-months-off schedule "for their own sanity." I can’t say I blame them. There is a lot of stress at this level of the marijuana business. Growers work for months to produce their crop, if something happens to it they are screwed. Marijuana crops are worth a lot of money, and grow houses are essentially sitting ducks.



We made our way in to the house and stepped in to a scene from a movie. The couch and matching loveseat were already occupied by groomers who quickly and meticulously snipped away at the trays full of ganja that sat in their laps. An older gentleman had a large storage bin at his feet that was filled five inches deep with fresh trimmed buds. Watching over the house and grounds was Max, our 120 lb guard dog. Friendly and ferocious, the massive fur beast spends his days roaming the property, sleeping on the couch, and getting yelled at by trimmers who don’t want his fur getting in their weed. "Go away, sack ruiner!!" one trimmer barked with only a hint of play.


Although Phoenix had previous experience with trimming weed, this was my first time. Fortunately I had years of experience buying and looking at weed, so I had a fairly good idea of what the end result was supposed to look like. As Phoenix told me, "I try to make it look like nugs that I would want to buy." I was given 2 empty trays, a nice sharp pair of brand new pruning shears, and a quick demonstration of how and what to trim. I picked a few branches from the bin and took a deep breath. And then slowly, carefully, with much anxiety and trepidation, I made the first cut.


It almost feels wrong to take a pair of clippers to a giant bud. I’ve always been afforded the luxury of never having to think too much about what it takes to get a bag in my hand, or what to look for really, other than THC crystals and density. The bigger the bud, the more impressive it is, right?? Well not necessarily. A bud may look nice and fat on the outside, but if you start breaking in to it and realize it’s several smaller buds, aka ‘popcorn’ on a thick stem, you’re not going to be too happy about it. Our growers like their trim tight and clean, and I can appreciate that. I like to keep my business tight and clean too. "No lumber" was the term they used over and over when giving direction or feedback. We were working the ‘big trim’, which is the first trim. We removed all of the buds from the branches, then sorted them in to popcorn sized and bigger-than-a-thumb-knuckle sized. The popcorn went in to a bin to be trimmed during the ‘final trim’. The knuckle-sized buds were groomed for immediate sale.


The grooming process is a tedious one, very monotonous and repetitive. Your hands are going to cramp, and it’s going to suck. Unless you’re a chronic masturbator, in which case you might be fine. You’ll definitely improve your grip strength. Spring loaded trimming shears are best, as you can waste a lot of energy trying to work without the recoil assistance. Basically you lay the scissors flat against the bud, and trim off all of the long curly leaves that are sticking out until it is a nice neat dense little cone of happiness just waiting to be ground up and inhaled. We were paid by weight, so I quickly learned to select my branches from the full bins instead of the ones that had already been picked through, and to look for branches that had nice fat clusters of buds near the top. I learned that the airy buds were going to fall apart in to popcorn as soon as I started trimming so don’t waste time on those, just break them apart and move on. The weed we were trimming was already dried which made it easier, but even dry weed is mad sticky, and my fingers would quickly be caked in black hash. After a few hours the buildup would be so thick that I could not feel anything with my fingertips. This of course made touching anything difficult, and dirty. Once it got to the point where it started to bother me I would simply peel it off and roll it up in to a ball to be smoked later. Phoenix and I each had a few hash balls in our trays, she was actually the one to teach me that little nugget of information.



I also learned that when you’re paid by weight, time is money. And when time is money, no one wants to stop working to roll another blunt. Yet still there were many blunts smoked, after much arguing about who’s turn it was to roll. I really don’t like blunts, they’re foul and harsh and tobacco smoke sucks and makes me sick. Ugh. Oh how I longed for a Volcano to save my burning eyes and throat from all of the heavy putrid smoke! If I never smoke another blunt again in my life I will be totally OK with that. But the reality is that you need to be stoned in order to sit there for hours on end, staring and cutting, cutting and staring, so even if you hate it you’re gonna do what needs to be done and suck on that nasty blunt when it gets passed your way. My lungs hurt just thinking about it. Gross. By the time we wrapped each night we were exhausted and more than happy to go back to our little cabin on the lake to vape a bowl of the Blue Dream we were grooming before crawling in bed. We slept like babies and, big surprise, we didn’t quite manage to fulfill our early start ambitions once morning came.


Of course I couldn’t visit a weed farm without spending some time in the garden. The day we arrived Phoenix and I spent about half an hour goofing off and taking selfies among the plants, like a couple of kids let loose in a candy store. Even though we had arrived at the very end of harvest season, it was still unlike anything I had seen before. A giant backyard, full of marijuana plants. The majority of the plants were Blue Dream plants, but there were also a few bright green OG as well as plants with dark purple leaves. I was told these purple plants were Lemon Kush. Had we arrived just a few weeks earlier it would have been so full that we wouldn’t have been able to walk through, and so tall that you could see the plants from the highway. I most definitely want to see that someday. But I didn’t care. I was happy to walk among the plants and spent a large part of my last day there wandering in the garden of earthly delights. Everywhere I turned baby buds were blooming and those glorious green leaves were reaching for the heavens. Maybe I was already in heaven?


Alas, I was not in heaven, and eventually it was time for the mad dash back to the Sacramento airport. Thank the ganja goddess for rental cars that accelerate, because we arrived at the airport with just over half an hour to get to our terminal. Although we had set aside travel clothes that didn’t get worn while we were trimming, we were still covered in weed dust and THC residue and a few rogue leaves here and there. It was even in our hair. I have a hard time believing we weren’t glowing green and reeking of skunk, yet somehow airport security said nothing. I guess they’re familiar with harvest season. We boarded our plane and ordered our cocktails and settled in for the quick flight home, exhausted but our wallets slightly thicker than when we began. And that’s never a bad thing.


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