Goose grass, little trees and Helena & Hazel...

Emma Heseltine - 27 May 2012

The Goslings are crazy for goose grass. Not surprising given the name, it’s the weed with sticky buds on that caused so much hilarity when we were kids. If you go pick a bundle from the orchard (yes we have lots of weeds/random flowers/general undergrowth in our orchard, the chickens love it) and take it to them as a treat a feeding frenzy ensues. They love it, it’s like chocolate to them, and boy does it make them squeak in happiness.

There are a lot of little trees at Willowford. We planted them a few weeks back and they are all growing okay, now they need some mulch. I’m doing the steep bank-side so fill up the quad trailer with wood chip and park it up at the bottom of the hill. It’s just a matter of taking a couple of buckets full up each time and spreading it around the bottom of the tree. They need the mulch to help stop grass and weeds getting away and competing for resources with the new tree. It’s a very hot day, which I’m not complaining about at all, but up and down the hill is hard work, the river looks very tempting. Soon I’ve got most of the lower trees done, just another massive bank-side to do!

There are plenty of things to be planted and today I’m concentrating my efforts on the potatoes and tomatoes. The potato patch is full of little weeds so I set too preparing the bed for the main crop, it doesn’t take me too long. We have a great big planting ruler which is very useful when spacing out seeds or bulbs or whatever, I also have the veg gardener book to consult. I get four rows in then move onto re-potting the tomatoes. Its extremely hot in the greenhouse so I give everything a good hosing before I replant the stripy tomatoes in big pots, they are doing very well and I cant wait to see them bearing fruit.

We are having a jubilee beacon at the croft so a bonfire must be built. We have set Halo to the task and we are pulling up the turf where the bonfire is to be built. We started trying to do this a couple of weeks ago but didn’t have much success as it had been raining so it was like trying to dig trifle. Today it is hot and considerably better progress is made, we dig out a big square and relocate the turf to a bald area further up the field. The base is prepared, now to start construction!

Helena and Hazel are in Crab apple field at Houghton where we are building the beacon. They are both heifers and they are both extremely pregnant. Hazel is now 3 weeks overdue if we go by the vet’s estimation. She is looking huge and the hot weather cannot be nice for her. We are hoping they both get on and have their calves before next week when we are having the Jubilee party, but is seems like they are holding out for cooler weather. I’ve got bets on Helena being first.

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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