Earth moving

Two barrows and a bucket

I’ve been hard at work moving soil down the hill to try and terrace the orchard area. There is a surplus of soil just below the barn where S. moved it from various locations, particularly from where the roadway now wraps around above the byre. Let’s just say the soil is of varying quality. I’m pretty sure that some of it is quite fertile. There was a quantity of nettles there, and they are an indicator of fertile soil. However as I’m digging it I am using two wheel barrows and a bucket. One wheelbarrow for the ‘good’ soil, one wheelbarrow for the pernicious weed roots (couch grass, creeping thistle, docken and nettles) and the bucket for larger bits of coal as I spot them. It seems that part of the area above the byre must have been the storage area for the house coal. There is also quite a bit of saw dust. Probably from more recent chainsawing by S. since the wood we have been using has been cut up in that sort of area in the recent past. As well as the above, there is also a sprinkling of the typical bits of glass, string, broken crockery and strange part burnt bits of possibly vehicle that we often find around the place. You must understand that until the 1970’s there was no rubbish collection in the area, so everything was disposed of locally. I have fantasies sometimes of being able to piece together ancient dinner services like a three dimensional jigsaw. In the meantime the bits get collected into piles and occasionally the ‘real’ rubbish thrown in the bin. I do love the archeological fringe of my gardening sometimes though. The best thing I’ve found was an flint arrowhead or speartip. Although I didn’t dig that up. It came to the surface when the drains for next door’s soakaway were dug just above the orchard. It makes me very humble about my significance when I think of the thousands of years that have passed since that item was made and lost. The land continues despite my little scratchings.

holmisdale flint 7 june 2012 CROP
Holmisdale Flint tool

Growing on the earth pile are several silverweed plants. One in particular has lovely long roots from last year. I’ve moved them down to where the soil has been moved to in the orchard. I’m pretty sure that I’ll have to dig it over to remove couch and other weeds, so I may as well have some goodies to dig up as well. The exposed soil after removing the top layers by the barn is nice and bare. I’ve planted out there a few skirret seedlings that have got a bit pot bound. I don’t want to get too close to the working area though, or they’ll get trampled. Although they looked tiny little plants, they seem to have little root thickenings developing anyway, poor little things! Still they should do a bit better with a bit of root room, if the slugs don’t get them.

Long root on Silverweed

This earth moving is slow work. I’m hopeful that I will have the left hand side of the path done, as you look down the hill, this year, but I’ve got a lot more soil to move. The weather more recently has been a bit wet too, which doesn’t really make for safe work. Not just working in the wet, which isn’t pleasant, but the extra weight of wet soil, and slippery steep slopes make it awkward….

More silverweed for orchard

MacPherson’s Covert.

Those with Tolkien expertise can now guess the origin of my username. We’re attempting to turn a sheep grazed, wind swept croft into a cornucopia of produce via the introduction of trees.  The name MacPherson’s Covert came from a story that was told to us by one whose family were previous residents and owners of this land.  He tells it much better than me, however…In harder times not so long ago the people of Glendale, for good and sufficient reason refused their rents to their landlord due to abuses they had undergone.  As a result the government sent a gunship and marines to put down their rebellion.  Hearing of the approach the lady of the croft, took her baby and hid in a cave on the land that they might be safe from any bloodshed.  As it happened, due to the bravery and good sense of the people, no blood was spilt but the leaders volunteered to be imprisoned such that their grievances could be properly heard.  As a result of this and other instances of  landlord abuses the crofting acts were implements in Scotland giving tenants rights and priviledges hitherto unknown.  Glendale itself became purchased by the government and sold back to its tenants as the first community buy out of a Scottish estate.

We had help to plant the trees from the Woodland Trust, in the form of discounted purchase of native trees and advice.  We then chose the name of the wood to be MacPherson’s Covert after that previous resident.