The mini digger and very boggy ground – it’s April alright

Well, it’s April still, just, and the weather is a bit better at last. It has finally shifted from relentless rain to “changeable”. There were even a few wonderful days of bright, warm sun – a most welcome development. The expected spring growth spurt has been delayed this year, which is certainly a blessing. The last couple of years we’ve looked over the garden and the wood where things were just starting to emerge. Then a week later the grass, brambles, bindweed, thistles et al were up over our knees. Terrifying and very, very dispiriting.

Well, this year we were more prepared. The orchard is growing a carpet of soft green grass, mixed with some determined intruders. We are equally determined and were planning to use the lighter electric mower on it but then we had a bit of an incident with the mini digger. We’ve been hoping to try this out for some time and finally managed to book it for a week. A very dinky thing, it weighs just (!) a ton and is very small. It rolled up the new ramp into the top of the orchard and we prepared to shift some of the feral buttercups. Alas, within a few minutes it began to sink into the ground. After some nifty maneuvering we got it out again but the top of the land was badly churned up and we had to abandon that job.

Later we tried to change the bucket as we hoped to get it around a very tight corner to clear a space for the polytunnel greenhouse. I’ve always found this very difficult and after a number of attempts the damn thing coughed, jerked violently and stopped. Unwilling to be dissed by a tiny digger we let it settle and tried again, with the same result. A quick consultation with youtube and we had to drive to the nearest garage (4 kilometres), buy a new can and get some diesel. It started but kept jerking and cutting out. It got so bad it was like trying to ride a bucking bronco so we waited for the next day and rang the Hire Company. They sent out a mechanic who got it running and we were able to maneuver round the corner and start some digging. Three scoops later it coughed and died. Overall a bit of a bust.

After that we decided the land was still too soft, even for the flymower, so we are heading to the hardware store to get a pair of long handled shears. That should see to the determined intruders until we can start some regular mowing. It being April, we were watching the new planting and every tree, in the orchard or wood, is now putting out leaves. A number of them have also sprung into life and have sprays of blossom. Irish trees seem particularly hardy. I remember my father cursing the wind in Essex as it stripped the flowers from the apple trees. Here we’ve had some very high wings but the trees cling to their blossom despite the storms.

It has been a rather busy month. In fact we are close to the end of April and we’ve almost finished the jobs we need to enlist men for. As we didn’t manage to get the corner cleared and neither of us can cope with the heavy digging or move the blocks by hand we have called on Donal for help. We’ve been looking at ways to make life easier, especially over winter, and one big issue is the woodpile. We finally got Bill, the amazing fence man out. He spent a couple of days putting up a lean-to in the corner of the wood so now the tarps are off and the remaining wood is drying nicely. It will be so much easier, not having to drag the covers around and sort through for dryish logs, often in hail or snow. We won’t have damp logs drying inside either, which will reduce condensation and danger of mould. Bill even moved a couple of chunks of wood round our primroses to protect them for machinery and boots.

It is finally April proper as yesterday I saw the first swifts flying madly over the wood. They are a beautiful sight and catch so many midges too, an added bonus. We have birds nesting in our hedge and up by the orchard as well as in the Juniper tree outside the kitchen window. I was outside calling the dogs last week and could hear them rustling and tweeting softly. The next night a small group of bats did a quick fly past, about half a dozen. Remembering the bat that flew into the house last year I hurriedly closed all the doors. It is nice to see all the life around us though the downside is the birds and bats do keep setting off the security lights!

We are doing okay here and are looking forward to a quieter summer and autumn as so much of the work is already done. We are just waiting for the long anticipated visit from the plumber, a species slightly more rare than the unicorn over here. With some fine weather we can relax a bit, sit outside and enjoy the garden and indulge in a bit of gardening. And use the mower on our new grass of course.

Thank you for reading. I hope we all get some decent weather and a summer to remember for the right reasons!