And what a great day it was! Ria, Chris and I were joined by Martin, Sonia, Gjergj and Sophie – all different backgrounds, but a shared passion for growing things, the outdoor life, getting things done together with good conversations and great food!
I realised as the work got underway, directed by Ria, that synchronicity had again been at play. One of the vital ingredients of our tree-planting exercise was large quantities of wood chips. It just so happened that another friend of Ria’s had moved house a few weeks previously, and as part of that exercise, she had had to dismantle about 50 metres worth of brushwood barriers. She hired a chipper and turned it into three large trailers full of wood chips that Ria and Chris hauled over to Ransberg and deposited at the bottom of the swales. They were perfectly placed to serve for the tree-planting.
We were really lucky with the weather and conditions, too. If we had done this work in the summer, the ground would have been rock hard. In any normal December, it would have been either boggy or frozen. But we had had no rain for a month, until the last two days, so the ground was quite soft to dig, and the temperature was quite mild, so our extremities didn’t get too cold, but we still felt really happy when Chris showed up at 12.30 with a thermos of tea and a tin of freshly-baked spekuloos biscuits (because it’s Sinterklaas…).
The procedure was: dig a hole, put in three fistfuls of compost, place the shrub, fill in the hole with soil, add a layer of wood chips, a layer of cardboard and another layer of woodchips.
There was lots of to-ing and fro-ing with wheelbarrows to feed the production line with compost and wood chips, lots of exercise for unaccustomed abdominal muscles, lots of standing around leaning on spades and pitchforks, having deep and involved conversations about life, the universe and everything. There was time for stories, laughter, friendship and concentrated work, a leisurely and delicious lunch (much of it grown on the land), rustled up by Chris – always a memorable part of our work days.
We even had time to do some other odd jobs around the land after lunch, before the rain drove us indoors for tea, apple tart, a look round the house and a closing circle. Gratitude to Sophie, Sonia, Gjergj and Martin for so generously giving of your time, energy and love.