The hardest we’ve worked in a long, long time…
Alright so we dont have to pay for food or accommodation during our time as volunteers, but for us it’s about much more than that. Farming is so completely different to what we usually do back at home, but there’s a first time for everything, right?
Day 116 – Saturday 16th September 2016
Our alarms went off at 07:00 for our first day of work since Friday 13th May 2016. That’s a whole eighteen weeks to be exact, but this time around the idea of work was actualy quite exciting!
We each had a shower and then headed to the kitchen for breakfast. They have a tradition here that breakfast for volunteers on their first day is always Weet-Bix, so thats what we had, and then we got going. Our first job of the day was to let Mo (the family labrador) out of his kennel, which was easy enough. Next we fed the chickens, collected their eggs, and cleaned their hutch, which wasn’t so bad either. Then we were assigned our first project, which we were told would take us at least two or three days – mulching.
We knew that this job was coming because it was brought up in an email before we arrived, and being the amazing volunteers that we are we even watched a tutorial video on YouTube of how to do the job well.
Mulches are materials that you place over soil surfaces to maintain moisture and improve soil conditions. Mulching is recognised as one of the most beneficial acts a homeowner can do for the health of a tree, however improper mulching can actually have a negative impact. In short, we had to do the job right.
We made a plan and stuck to it so that we could track progress, and felt a real sense of achievement as sections were completed. It’s the kind of work that sounds easy in theory, but turns out to be pretty difficult when you’re getting stuck in. We worked for about three hours and then went in for a tea break, before cracking on for another two hours which brought us to lunch time.
After eating we carried on working without hesitation, only to be told that after lunch we can usually have the afternoon to ourselves (after roughly five hours of work). Not only did we look good because we carried on working without paying attention to the time, but it was nice being told that we’d done more than we should have.
It was overcast all day long, with occasional breaks in the clouds, so pretty perfect working conditions. Had there been too much sun or even a bit of rain everything would have seemed much harder. We showered again, then headed back to our room where we both slept for a coupe of hours. The early start and hard work definitely caught up on us, and it wasnt until around 16:30 that we decided to show our faces. We helped with dinner by making potato and pumpkin mash (which we had with chicken and salad), then sat down together to eat and watch another movie.
We got to bed just before midnight with alarms set for 07:00 again. Both of us were pretty shattered from our first day of work, but equally ready for the next.
Day 117 – Sunday 17th September 2016
Today was pretty similar to yesterday in the fact that we were up and ready for work by about 08:00, fed Mo and then done the chickens, and carried on with the mulching straight after. Instead of following the same plan as yesterday which was to focus on the plants and worry about filling in the gaps later, this time we were asked to focus on covering pipes instead. For those of you that this makes absolutely no sense to, I’ll explain with photographs when I can!
On one hand it was good to be following a different plan, almost as though chapter one was complete and we’d started chapter two, but on the other hand it meant that it was all a bit random. We carried on for another few hours until around 11:30 when the skies turned black and the rain started. For a while we braved it and worked in our rain coats, but in the end our hosts told us to give up on hoping that the weather might clear and take the afternoon off.
We didn’t know if taking the afternoon off like they’d suggested would make us look a little lazy, and we certainly didn’t want that, so carried on working on something else without instruction. One of our hosts mentioned when we arrived that the decking outside our room needed replacing, so we took it upon ourselves to get that started by removing all of the old nails, and then let everyone know what we’d been up to. Alright so it was a bit of a stunt to find our way into the good books, but it was definitely appreciated.
We sat down for dinner together and then (you guessed it) watched a movie before bed. I think by the time we got to sleep it was still only around 10:30 which was early in comparison to the past couple of evenings, and very much needed after another fairly non-stop day. We made a master plan to finish all of the mulching tomorrow because it was getting tedious and we didn’t want to suffer more than another day of it, but needed some well earned rest before we could get back to it!