The Wild World of Weed Trimming

The Wild World of Weed Trimming

Amongst the backpacking community, there’s always plenty of buzz surrounding the highly fantasised life that is weed trimming. And the first rule of Trim Club is that you do not talk about Trim Club. Rumours abound that you’ll make bulk cash in a short amount of time, which gives every traveller a semi-chub as they think about the bifters they’ll smoke all day long while stacking enough cash to send them on that Central American swirl they’ve been dreaming of.

Sadly, the market for backpackers to come to the US and get work easily is drying up. Due to an oversaturated market and changing legal states, the ‘Greenrush’ is over, making existing crews more impenetrable than ever. I’m here to tell my personal story about the misconstrued glory that is weed trimming.


After landing in the States after a long and mentally straining European summer, a mate and I shook the cobwebs by taking a week to roadtrip from Southern California up to Oregon. A friend of ours had met a trim crew while hitchhiking the year prior, and vouched that we would be good workers for this year’s harvest.

Finding the property was a journey in itself: it was deep bush with no cell service for about 10 miles in either direction. The first thing we noticed was a broken-down cop car. Though it was collecting dust, it had the spirit that someone once had some great fun in this novelty vehicle. It was followed by another 20 cars, boats, RVs and auto parts, all broken down. I felt like I’d just entered the land of the lost.

The boss, Thad, was living in a trailer with a back wall that had been held together with a wedged-in broomstick for 30 years. Nonetheless, it had a sense of comfort.

Soon after we arrived, Thad deep fried us something he’d caught out of the sea and told us about his countless fishing competition victories and hunting tales. The stories continued as the moon rose, and I was feeling ready to sleep. It must have been about 10 o’clock when his phone rang.

After hanging up, Thad continued his tale and casually went to the door, waving at us to follow. He walked over to his car and locked in as the driver, so I jumped in the front seat with my buddy in the back. Then Thad reached behind him and grabbed his pistol, making sure it was loaded properly before placing it back where it was.

Oh fuck, I thought to myself.

Already, Thad was the craziest driver I’d ever sat beside. In future, I would intentionally try and avoid ever having to ride in his car, because my palms would get blistered holding on for dear life. But this night was extra wild.

Thad’s mother-in-law had called and said there was a car of people who had pulled up to her garden to try and steal her marijuana plants. The crowns of some of these plants can be worth up to $1000 each, and can be swiftly taken with one swing of a machete, so it’s often you have to keep watch on your crops.

After Thad explained the situation, and with us having no knowledge of the dirt roads we were swerving on, I thought we would surely crash and die on the way. Tokyo Drift meets the backwoods.

We pulled up in a cloud of dust, screeching alongside the house. Thad’s mother-in-law told us she had scared the trespassers off with a Taser, but had caught the plates. They were driving a California-registered vehicle and towing a trailer, and Thad was certain we could find them.

Now, I was coming fresh off a European summer filled with nothing but parties and friendship. The thought of sniffing out these bad guys with loaded guns had me feeling funky. But I was already too deep – where the hell was I gonna go, into the woods? I just wished I had chosen the back seat…

Thad explained there was a bar where all the local scum hang, so we would go check the plates in the parking lot. Though nothing fit the description, it didn’t stop Thad from doing a slow roll past everyone smoking ciggies in the carpark, giving them a full maddog. I didn’t know if I should maddog them too, or pretend to awkwardly look for something on the floor.

When we started to head back to the ranch, I thought the night was over. Just as I let out a sigh of relief, Thad spotted a truck with a trailer in a run-down self-service car wash. Fear washed over me as I imagined this wild shoot out.

While the truck had Oregon plates unfitting of his mother-in-law’s description, the driver did look suspicious, and Thad wanted to see what he was up to. This time, he pulled up with the passenger side first, so I was forced to maddog this guy. I sort of squinted my eyes and tried to act stern, but not too tough in case of confrontation. I saw my life flash.

We finally returned home, and since we didn’t have anything set up yet, we laid some blankets on Thad’s trailer floor. I was fast into the dream world when the sliding glass door burst open. This crazy looking hillbilly rushed in, gun in hand. He had matted hair, hadn’t showered for months and, with missing teeth, was yelling about how he had just caught some tweakers on the property. He urged that we go out there and tend to them, but the craze in his eye and gun in his hand told me I had better sit this one out.

The next morning, we were told that this gummy bloke was Thad’s garden security. Because coffee isn’t strong enough to keep him up all night anymore, he takes magic mushrooms to burn the midnight oils during his shifts.

Besides that quick description, nothing more was ever spoken about that first night. We were shown around the ranch the next morning, and Thad explained what type of work we would be doing. I wondered if the previous evening’s escapades would be a daily occurrence, but didn’t want to ask and show apprehensiveness to a new employer who was going to make my Central American travel dreams come true.

That’s kind of how the rest of the eight weeks went. Some mundane work with below average chat, then all of a sudden, a big shake-up of weird and wild hillbilly things: from shooting mortars at pedestrians on the street to hunting bears throughout the night. We ate bear sausages for 60 days straight.

All in all, I would describe it as the best experience you never want to do again. Every farm is different and every crew is different, but if you can, get in before the market evaporates just to see how whacky times while weed trimming can get. The rumours about fast cash are true as well, if you can endure the mental battle in the woods.

Photos provided by the author

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