Saturday 28 April 2018


Carsten is quickly adopted by Towser indoors
and our turkey 'tom' Excelsis out of doors.
Welcome aboard, then, latest Help-X student, Carsten. Carsten hails from SW Germany and the town of Dudenhofen which is, by all accounts, quite similar to our local market towns of Castlerea and Ballaghaderreen. It is in the Rhineland "Palatinate"; Mrs C loves that this expression is still in use. Plenty of her most recent history 'pods' have involved the Palatinate but she had thought that this was an old name, no longer in use. She is delighted that "they still have the Palatinate". Dudenhofen is also in the main asparagus growing area of Germany.

Adopted by the male turkey out of doors
Carsten, in his early 20s, is studying teaching of English and Sport and as part of the language chunk of this, he has to go and live in an English speaking area for 3 continuous months. He has chosen Help-X as his method of getting accommodation and Ireland as his destination. We have him for the first week of this 'tour', round till the middle of next week.

He is an excellent guest - all the good things you can say about Help-X volunteers - fit and strong, willing to work hard and try his hand at all manner of jobs, happy, friendly, relaxed, easy to talk to and thoroughly enjoys any food The Woman of the House puts in front of him.

By his own admission he is very new to this travelling thing and this is his first adventure alone, so he gets a bit wary around trying to connect up legs of the journey, changes of train and so on. He managed to mess up the journey here from Frankfurt airport (Ryan Air) and, in Dublin, managed to get on a bus which missed its train connection at Athlone.

Instead of him pitching up at Castlerea at 8pm for me to do a 15 minute taxi run to collect him, we got a series of phone messages ending up with him stranded in Athlone and needing us to drive the 2 hour round trip to rescue him. Never mind. No harm done and Carsten was safely under the roof by 10 pm where Elizabeth could feed him soup and pizza. Poor lad had not eaten since breakfast at the parents' house that morning.

All looking a bit Spring-like. Love those hot orange tulips.
After that late night, we took pity on him and decided we'd not start any work that next morning, taking the day, instead for us to get to know each other, for him to get a look round here and meet the livestock, plus we could go for a little drive around in the car shopping etc if he needed wellies or gloves.

Now, four days later, we are properly in the groove and have done some good, productive work. The weather has been dry and warm, so we have been able to get 'out there' and get long overdue garden tasks done. We have emptied two big compost bins and top-dressed three railway sleeper beds and one of the long beds in the polytunnel with a good 6-8" thick layer of the lovely rich stuff. We have cleared up all the wind-blown branches in the East Field onto a fire-pile for burning.

Food for baby ducklings. Chick-crumb (slightly wetted), finely
mashed hard-boiled egg (incl shell) and finely chopped lettuce
(which they will completely ignore, of course!)
We have chopped up quite a bit of the Storm Eleanor larch and spruce which had been seasoning in its round 'cakes' sliced out of the trunks. Then we crowned all that yesterday by mucking out a bullock barn for a friend. This latter involved me getting a 'fix' of tractor driving - I was hauling the mucked loads down to the dumping pile. Nearly an 'oops' for me there to match Carsten's Athlone mess-up.

It survived the winter!
That's only a 2 wheel drive tractor and with the link box full of muck it's so back heavy that the front is almost rearing up off the ground. In the destination field there was (unbeknownst to me) a very soft patch and I started to sink my left rear tyre in. I was sweating a bit, wallowing around there praying that I didn't need to make the embarrassing rescue phone call to get myself extracted. That would have taken some living down!

Plenty of bee activity in this warm weather.
That was a full day. We were already tired from the compost barrowing and the log splitting, so when we went down to clear "just a couple of boxes" and then fell in with the mission-creep to "the whole barn" (5 boxes), my aul' bones were definitely starting to creak.

A beautifully hearty neck-of-lamb stew. Our own lamb of course.
This morning, I am as stiff as a board and very glad it's the weekend. I was joking with Carsten that I love working with the Help-X lads and I get much more than twice as much done as I would on my own, 2-handed. This mainly because I get lazy and I don't actually do anything in between the Help-X-ers. I need them to motivate me of a morning. May not be 100% true but certainly seems that way sometimes. I find myself 'saving jobs up' for the next Help-X-er, which translates as "avoiding those jobs till I get help" :-) (smiley face)

I started doing these ten-packs with "all the colours" through
the honesty box. They sell very well.
All we have planned for today is a nice breakfast and bit of driving around. I am taking Carsten over to friends Sue and Rob for him to meet them and see their place. Also to look at some new baby kittens from which two may be of interest to 'Sparks' and his lady. We were going to select the two as Sparks was thinking that the lady would find them all equally cute and it did not matter much which they were given. However, I understand that she has now seen the pictures and chosen her kittens, so we are just going to say 'Hello' and admire them, presumably.

Pears coming into blossom.
I am on strict instructions not to slip up and fall in love with the other two. WE HAVE ENOUGH ANIMALS was how it was phrased. No arguing with that.

There's snout to see here. Move along.
I think that is probably enough for this one. More on Carsten and our adventures in Help-X-ing in the next post. Good luck now. Get out and enjoy that sunshine.

No comments: