Thursday, 18 August 2011

Team effort

 Over the years I've done quite a bit of building work in my not inconsiderable spare time. A substantial part of how I have done it (especially in recent years) is summed up nicely in this photo.

Which part ?

Bricklaying? No, I'm rubbish at it, in fact I've probably only laid 100 bricks in my life.

Masonry work? No,  although I've done quite a bit of that, usually very slowly (methodically !)

Sitting about in the sun? Nope, I like to consider it as a short rest before the next  rushing about phase.

The slightly pained expression? Getting closer now...

April taking photo's of you? Ah ha ,you're nearly there...

On your own ? Indeed ! On my own. While various people have been involved occasionally , in recent years (maybe since 2005 just before the kids were born) I've spent a lot of time working on my own.

I rather enjoy this for most of the time.
I don't have to start at the same time as anyone else or hang about for them.
I can do what I need to do, when I need to do it, based on my work priorities.
I can change plans and skills in mid job often without needing anyone elses advice or assistance.
I can go fast when I'm manic, slow when I'm tired, stop when I have to.

I often end up looking like this...

Its a work style that clearly suits

However with a project this big , it became increasingly obvious that I need to 'step out of my comfort zone' and ask other people to be involved . Strangely enough, about the time I realised this ,other people started to appear.

First volunteer to the cause at the start of the year was my Dad, who now lives here as well. He's now my right hand man outside, since April usually has the kids to organise or various gardening related projects that she can do around that. Quite different to how we worked together building our previous  house in 2003/4.

Scenes like this...

...are nowadays of course entirely posed for the camera ! (the proof is April's footwear -soft  rubber Crocs !)

Of course, other family members are a good place to start when looking for volunteers!  My brother Sam helps out when he can...

(This was last week as he has just learned to drive the tractor- took about ten minutes!)
 But less obvious people have become helpfully involved recently. My neighbours Chris and Milly (who have the mules and ponies in field) have been using bits of the fields and as a result they are slowly getting them tidied up. The initial work the mules did in eating  the lower field flat again and the fire we had afterwards meant we could relatively easily mow them. This led to the field being available for camping by kids and staff from Venchie at the start of August. All thanks to another friend "Big Dave" suggesting it to them as a possible venue.

(photo from Venchie website)

(photo from Venchie website)
The lower field almost looked like a 'proper' campsite (at a certain angle at any rate!)

There were nightly campfires, mudslides, bug-discovering, and many other activities devised by the staff.  The kids were also kept entertained during the inclement weather by Chris and Savvi the pony - both most obligingly  giving many of the kids a pony ride -probably a first for most !

 Even I had a go for the first time- fortunately the look of fear on my face as I careered directly towards the watching crowds without Chris was not captured for posterity ! (Or was it !?)

Something about Grove Farm seems to bring out the best in people. A few weeks ago, a walker on the public footpath stopped and talked to me for a while. I showed him around for half an hour or so, since it was a nice evening and he was genuinely interested in the place. Then he volunteered to come and help ! I was rather overwhelmed by this generous offer from a complete stranger and wondered what to do. Several days later he came back, to remind me to ask him for help if I needed it ! . So I did !
Michael came along  and helped me with the start of  a job I'd been avoiding since I first got here, killing off the Japanese Knotweed using herbicide injection. A perfect first job given his professional gardening background. It was actually  good fun despite the rain, the weeds and the likelihood of stabbing myself or him with a blunt needle full of neat Glyphosate weedkiller or sawing our numb fingers off with a breadknife !

And you really do not want to stick this in yourself !

Another fortuitous meeting happened as well. A team of tree fellers / surgeons/ arborists recently found us and we have managed to help them out a little bit in recycling all their tree waste - the woodchips for slackline pit and now more elsewhere.  They had a LOT to get rid of - this is just one load of many !

However they also had lots of wood they couldn't take back home with them and generously helped us by adding to our quickly growing fuel pile.

This photo doesnt do justice to the amount thats been cut up my myself, Dad and Sam !
 They had just finished a big job in town and they  supplied us with some 'offcuts' before heading home at the end. I think I might need to upgrade my chainsaw ! Thats about seven or eight tonnes worth apparently !

Its been quite fun meeting Dougie (above) and his team of enthusiastic loggers, one day a huge Unimog vehicle turned up - the yard looked like a real farm with proper machines! If you need lots of trees shifted anywhere between here and Dumfries I'll pass on their details !

Who else has been helping...hmm....sure I've missed someone....

Nope, not the flies.....

Oh yes , it was April and .....

 ...of course ,the kids ! Here seen helping with the terribly-exciting-when-you-are-small greengage harvest and when I say 'helping' I really mean ...

...eating them of course. Although April could always go one greengage higher...

Willow managed to take this entirely by herself.
The entire uneaten stock has been turned into an extremely tasty, tart, jam  - (so now you know what you might be getting for Christmas !) Unfortunately the one tree ,despite its huge size, has only yielded less than ten kilos of fruit - fruit tree pruning is a new skill to learn yet.

Unlike the courgette / marrow plants which have turned out more than we can possibly eat so we've been giving them away by the trug full ...

 ... as well as impersonating elephants...

...and I've just started brewing two gallons of marrow ,sultana and ginger wine (which looks 'interesting')

Whatever it tastes like, I'd like to raise a virtual, metaphorical glass of wine  to all the people who have helped in so many different ways. Even if its just been as encouragement from afar, your input has been appreciated whether I have mentioned you directly or no.

I still like working away on my own at times but I'm sincerely thankful to everyone who has helped make Grove Farm a really fun place to live and work . Its becoming a real team effort.  Thank you team !

1 comment:

  1. Good Stuff! Looking forward to coming and lending a hand myself. See you soon :)