Well, after nearly three weeks, our first proper experience as Wwoofing hosts is over, and our volunteer (and now extended family member) Bettina has left to begin her journey home to Austria. Hers will be hard boots to fill, as we have achieved much in her time here, and she has become part of our lives. We’ve been so busy, in fact, that I’ve hardly had time to blog about all the works happening here, and now they are going to arrive all at once.
One of our biggest jobs was to dig and create a path connecting the house and polytunnel, crossing our growing field. After removing a couple of tonnes of turf and topsoil, we began the laborious job of carting nearly 6 tonne of what used to be the concrete floor in the house, to create a base.

The first 20 feet..

And then adding a further 5 tonnes of fine stone to the top to make it into a proper path….

and then stamping the surface down (with a little help from our hens) –

After only a few days we had a proper path, which makes life so much easier –

Our next task was to create the reedbeds that will clean the greywater from the house, and feed the large pond (that we had yet to make). We had at our disposal, an old bath, a water tank, some plastic pipe, and a load of gravel, dug from under our old bathroom.

It’s a basic horizontal reedbed, with a surge tank above it. The first bed then feeds a second before the outflow reaches the pond.

At some stage we paused for breath, before moving the hen house, and building them a new enclosure  to keep out the local cat and dog population which seem to have developed a taste for chicken.

Our attention then turned to the polytunnel, which had until then been home to the hens.  We dug beds and created paths using old bricks to edge them.

and here it is ready for some planting!

Our last task wasn’t one I intended to start. If we were to have a pond, it should be a big one – the sort that you dig with a machine. However, patience isn’t a virtue I posess in any great quantity, so we set to work..

at our GIY meeting, we had met Eugene, who very kindly came over once again and helped us to dig –

I couldn’t let a volunteer go home without building some sort of structure, so we decided to put an island in the middle of the pond for the ducks that we don’t have yet to live on, and to create them somewhere to nest. Hence, I give you – the Duck House…

The ground here is very rocky, so as well as some enormous stepping stones, we have gathered a huge amount of path edging.

Add in all the wood gathering, hen feeding and other day to day jobs that we do, and it has been a truly productive few weeks. We are so glad to have met Bettina, and hopefully she will come back to visit us in warmer weather, when all the digging is finished.. Here’s a couple more shots of the work –

Looking down the field, with the pond on the right, and the fruit bushes on the left.

Oh and we retensioned the polytunnel cover too, and dug a drain around it. I nearly forgot.

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