Odd Jobs #12: Rodeo Clowns to Soil Conservationists

Hi everyone!  I’m back with this week’s lineup of weird and wonderful jobs.  While each of these jobs is here for its own reasons, seamstress may seem like the least odd job – at least it’s one that we all know (if we are in the habit of wearing clothes) must exist out there in the world somewhere.  The last job on this list, soil conservationist, is actually quite important here in Switzerland; there are many villages in the Alps that owe their continued existence to being able to use the steep alpine pastures wisely.  Planting trees is integral to avoiding soil erosion, which helps prevent landslides, mudslides, and avalanches; another key component is placing barriers such as snow guards to help keep the soil, snow and debris where it should be.

Once again, I have personal experience with one of the jobs:  Silk tree designer.  If I had to find another job, that would be one I’d love to do again.  Enjoy perusing the list!


  • Rodeo Clown
  • Rubbish Detective
  • Safe Cracker: When combinations are lost or forgotten, safe crackers use their ears and fingers to open the safe.
  • Seamstress
  • Sewer Inspector
  • Silk Tree Designer: This is one I can give you the low-down on personally:  I was a tree designer back in the 80’s, making everything from bonsai trees for private homes to 30-foot trees for shopping malls.  Our storage warehouse had a few permanent silk trees, as birds had built nests in them, coming and going as if they owned the place… they’d found a sweet gig, with a weather-proof forest.  Tools of my trade were drill guns, glue guns, moss, paint, unformed branches of plastic-coated wire and silk leaves (which I had to shape into realistic branches), and the base:  A thick branch of a tree which had been treated and planted into a plaster-filled base pot.  I found out the hard way that Manzanita leaves can give off a narcotic-like aroma when heated, as with the friction caused by stripping off the leaves from a branch:  I was straddled atop a ladder working on stripping the leaves from a tall branch-base, when I got so dizzy that I had to grab hold of the ceiling’s piping and call for help.  My mother looked it up in her medical journals, and the result was that the leaves were in future removed by the plastering department.  It was one of my all-time favourite creative jobs, next to being a Pizza Hut lab assistant.
  • Snake Milkers: Extract venom from some of the world’s most dangerous snakes, like rattlesnakes and cobras. The extracted venom is often used to create anti-venom for hospital or laboratory use, and can be sold for up to $1,000 per gram.
  • Snowmaker
  • Snowmobile Guide
  • Soil Conservationist: Their main job is to come up with plans to prevent erosion and develop practices for sustainable land use, mostly by performing land-use surveys.




Filed under Articles, Lists, Research

6 responses to “Odd Jobs #12: Rodeo Clowns to Soil Conservationists

  1. Great reviews of these topics, especially the ones you know really well. I like to think of combining jobs. Say, a rodeo clown who performs soil conversation. Maybe seamstressing on the side. Thanks for sharing this series!

  2. Thank you, and you’re more than welcome!
    Your combo would be an interesting one! 🙂 The clown could use his horse to reach the steep slopes, and then mend his britches when he came sliding down the incline, butt-first. 😉

  3. Thoroughly enjoyable post, enjoyed checking out each job statement, you mentioned, Bonsai tree artistry sounds very creative, and Soil conservation in your part of the world must be challenging.

  4. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and the links – I had fun writing it. 🙂

  5. I followed the [Rubbish Detective] link and was amused by the excessive earnestness of the Swiss, but I would much prefer the Swiss kind of excess to the American kind that surrounds me, blighting the roadsides and sidewalks. Too many Americans act like they have been sniffing hot Manzanita leaves.

  6. We take our rubbish very seriously. 😉 There is a joke (and not that far from the truth, actually) that when a Swiss person drinks a tea, they dry out the tea bag and then separate it for recycling as follows: The contents into compost, the string into textiles, the tag into cardboard, the staple into metal, and the bag into paper.
    A few years ago there was a news report about a lake in the Alps in which the fish were dying; worried, scientists conducted extensive testing of the water, and found out that the lake was too clean – the fish were starving! They had to introduce algae to attract insects…

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