Finally the rain has stopped, and the weather has warmed up enough to allow the patch to dry out and for us to get back to work. There has been quite a lengthy break from digging, but the upside of this is that it’s allowed us to rejuvenate our flagging spirits, and rediscover the passion for digging. Which is a good job, as there’s still a long way to go and a lot more rocks and rubbish to be removed, before any of the seedlings I have growing in the workshop, even get a look in at the plot.
We are now the proud owners of a wheelbarrow, and so our plan with it was to dig small trenches, put the mud in the barrow, chuck in the turf and follow this up with the earth in the barrow and so on and so forth forevermore. It soon became clear the barrow couldn’t hold all the soil and so we also had some soil on our particularly tattered tarpaulin, which was a pain, as every time we move the tarpaulin it becomes more tattered.
I got back to digging yesterday afternoon, and was happy for the welcome break when our friend came around to get the stable ready for a pony they have on trial, I was even more happy when her husband, our farmer friend, suggested he could quickly pickaxe the whole stretch of the trench to loosen the soil up for me. Happy to hand over the tools, and suggesting that if he’d work for cups of tea, he’d probably get the whole thing done in an afternoon if he put his mind to it, I wandered back to the stable. Unfortunately he didn’t take me up on my, rather generous, offer but did do the whole trench, filled the hole I’d dug, and also gave us a new trench digging model to work to. Apparently the way he would double dig, is pickaxe the trench, dig a hole, chuck the turf in, then pickaxe / dig a new hole, moving the soil from it into the previous hole – saving on removing the soil completely and then chucking it back in each time, something that was taking up a fair bit of time and which I found particularly tedious.
Today we put the new method to the test and by jove, I think he might be on to something; you’d think he did this sort of thing for a living. J did some digging this morning before he was at work this afternoon and, once he’d gone, I carried on from where he left off, and between us we have managed to get nearly the whole length of the trench done. If it wasn’t for some ridiculously large, and time consuming to move, pieces of concrete, I think we would have finished the whole stretch. Which is the fastest progress we’ve made on the patch to date. I came across one particularly stubborn bit of concrete relatively early on, I got my trusty pickaxe (well, not so trusty as it’s given me a bit of a dodgy shoulder) under it, and managed to get it upright (only falling on my bum once or twice) but then I was a bit stuck.
I tried tying some baler twine, that we’d previously dug up, around it and pulling it, but to be frank, I may as well have been trying to pull a double decker bus, and it didn’t budge at all. But with some more wiggling with the pickaxe and a bit of perseverance, I managed to roll it out of the hole and on top of the patch I’d already filled, where it sits waiting for J to move it.
Once that was out, I managed to get to the end of the trench but was halted by yet more ridiculous slabs of concrete (and the fact the kids had opened the gates and went onto the lane, which took at least 15 minutes of shouting and despair, as the boy assured me he wouldn’t be bothered if he, or his sister, got splatted by a car). Fortunately (both for the kids and myself) J got home at this point and so I handed over the reins, and let him have a go at clearing the slabs, whilst I provided hot drinks and biscuits, and muttered to myself about how annoying children are.
This new method has definitely made the end feel a bit more in sight than it had. Tomorrow, I plan to (tie the gates together) take the turf off the next section and start on the next trench, and I’m hoping I can make some decent progress over the next couple of days – the weather forecast has even changed in our favour which can only be a good omen.