The craziness of the weather has given us a fair few false starts to progress this year on Croft 3 but thanks to some incredibly hardy volunteers we are now making good inroads into things.

We had two volunteers here with us for the last week of April and one has stayed on to be joined by another. I had forgotten how volunteers change the dynamic here and mean that Ady and I are so much more productive too. It’s great to share stories, tell people about our journey and adventure, our plans and hopes for the croft, see our lives through the eyes of others. It’s also fabulous to meet new people, learn about them and from them. Our first volunteer of the year was a regular blog reader rather than a WWOOFer and having spent a week in her company is now a real life friend too. We’re looking forward to her coming back again soon and having less distractions during her next visit to enable us to spend more time and get to know each other better.

Our current two volunteers are both WWOOFers, an organisation so close to our hearts having been the catalyst for our current life path. One is French, a young man travelling the UK improving his English, learning new life skills and having a fantastic adventure – the like of which I hope both Davies and Scarlett experience once they are ready to spread their wings. The second is a Brit, from our own original neck of the woods, with relevant building skills and a desire to learn more about our sort of lifestyle. With each volunteer and visitor who comes a form new relationships, realise the massive value in this way of sharing labour, skills, ideas, stories, space and food.

We participated in a workshop this weekend from a visiting artist. It was interesting but the shared collaboration element to the project felt false, contrived, unnatural. Such a direct contrast to the sharing that is happening here on the croft where we have opened our homes, our family time and space, our precious food resources and some of the control of the various projects here on the croft. The difference is this feels natural, easy, liberating and not something we want to resist. An interesting comparison.

I managed to leave my box of seeds outside last week and the box proved not waterproof in heavy rain 0 my entire stash of seeds, sodden. Some are in waterproof packs, some have foil packets within so I spent time this morning sorting them out and drying out the packaging. Some were past saving though so I have now planted up four of the raised beds with carrots, parsnips, leeks and salad, along with several seed trays of radishes, celeriac, cabbages and broccoli. To protect from weather and chickens I have covered the beds with some of the rescued plastic from the polytunnel. Not how I planned to sow but better than letting the seeds go to waste. I have some peas and various other things to do the same with tomorrow.

Meanwhile the cob project digging continues apace with so much volunteer assistance. With some of the donations we have invested in more tools which should arrive soon, so rest assured if you have helped out with a paypal contribution your touch is just as felt as those who are here in person – thankyou!

The piglets are growing steadily and remain at 6 – they are now all running about, experimenting with solid food and full of mischief. Our previous failsafe method of sexing them proved wrong this time so some hasty renaming has been in order! It turns out we have two boys and four girls. We will be keeping one of the little girls if we can get her to a good weight to take through the first winter and she settles in well with Tom and Barbara once she is fully grown but that will be a consideration to ponder on later in the year.

The hatching has finally started for this season. The broody duck who was sitting on a huge clutch of eggs started hatching them bang on time yesterday morning. We had built a pen around her so she is safe and secure from hoodies and ravens. She has so far hatched 10 eggs – two were dead, not hatched fully or deformed, one sadly drowned. Two of them were looking as though they may struggle so we have brought them into the caravan and Davies and Scarlett are doing a fine job of surrogate parenting them, to be honest Scarlett has been desperate to do just that since we moved here so fingers crossed they cope without a brooder lamp or warm mother duck. The first goose to go broody has at least three hatched goslings under her, she is too feisty to get closer to check for more. We will construct a pen around her too now she has hatched them. There are two more broody geese who are a bit behind her so hopefully more to come in the next few weeks. We are definitely missing a few of the chickens too so are fully expecting them to reappear with a row of chicks following them. When they free range as our birds do you are always lucky to work out just where they are nesting.

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