At last. It’s started! After several years of dreaming, drawing and planning applications, the builders arrived at the start of the half-term break and began digging the foundation trenches. To say it became a mudbath really would be an understatement, and if I told you the whole thing coincided with a (thankfully kids-only) vomiting bug and a broken washing machine, you probably wouldn’t believe me. So we’ll pretend that last bit didn’t happen (because its best forgotten anyway).
Our builders are a lovely bunch. Friendly and hardworking. They arrived at 8am in the pouring rain and began clearing the areas we hadn’t managed to get to. I went out to help shift the last few plants and pots. I managed to break the builder’s Chad (a very useful long, thin spade) – perhaps not the best start to our working relationship and clearly, I am stronger than I thought. We made some space in the Annexe for the builders to sit in the dry and have a cup of tea. They call this their ‘office’ – though we have an understanding about me having free access to the (newly replaced) washing machine.
The area for the extension has tricky access so the builders brought a small digger and a small dumper truck. I wanted all the topsoil they were digging out for the garden so they carefully made piles in what used to be the chicken field, until the piles were too tall for the little dumper truck to reach from this side.
Trying to tip the soil further up the slope of the field, the dumper got stuck in the mud. Once we got it out, we knew we needed to tackle the piles differently. My farmer friend knows a great diggerman and the next day a huge and beautiful digger arrived on our driveway, along with a driver who can make the digger dance and the bucket look like an extension of his hands. So much skill in fact, I’m sure he could lift an egg without it breaking.
My garden designer friend-up–the-lane and I have worked out a rough plan for the new garden area, based on the mapping out plans she drew up earlier in the summer. This came about because our little garden area will get taken over by the extension and also because my vegetable garden is too far up the field to get the attention it really needs. We realised that just because the field has been laid out this way by the original owner doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. The borehole digging in the summer required some fence removal and it’s interesting how once the changes start, it becomes easier to see how things could develop with a new purpose. I hope add to our little orchard and to make a dye-plant garden lower down.
I showed the diggerman the drawings and suddenly, we were landscaping the chicken field into a garden which was something I had thought we would do after the build.
At the same time, it finally hit home that after 10 years of slogging through the mud from November to April every year (and for all of this last year apart from a couple of weeks in June) we needed to make a track. My trailer has been stuck in the field for three months now, full of firewood and in its current state we had no way of getting the yurt down the field, through the mud, to set it up. And the prospect of getting the kids out to school, from the yurt to the car via some mudtastic nightmare, was not a happy one.
Our Diggerman began making a track.
The track is nearly finished. Thwarted by the incessant monsoon-like downpours, the last of the dug-out soil is to be levelled over our lumpy field once we’ve had a few dry days.
Meantime, my Ewes are missing Big Bert who visited in October, hopefully making for a late February lambing. They are watching through the fence, eyeing up the potential for dry feet and somewhere firm and warm to sit when the sun comes out and warms the stone.