Sunday, 4 April 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends

It was R's birthday last weekend.

Just like last year I had decided not to make a big thing about it, but some weeks ago his brother and sister-in-law arranged to come over. And asked if they could bring some friends. Trina is a garden designer and Simon can turn his hand to pretty much anything. They said they were coming here to work!

I have already moaned about how with all the snow and work and everything I have been unable to get the homestead knocked into shape this year. This time last year I was totally manic and full of adrenaline, which enabled me to get most things done. The fact that I haven't been able or haven't had the energy to do it this year has been getting me down so much.

So the bargain was that I would keep them stoked with food and ply them with beer in the evening. When they arrived on the Friday it was too late and too dark to do any work, so we had a leisurely meal and caught up with all the gossip from the last few months.

Saturday morning though, Simon was itching to get started.

The thing I really wanted to achieve from the weekend was to set up some chicken pens to stop my birds marauding all over the garden and digging up my seedlings. So while he was measuring up and seeing what materials I already had in the barn, the ladies got to work on the vegetable garden.

Driving down to the timber merchant with R's brother gave us a good opportunity to talk on our own. Jon has had a rough year for various reasons - he has lost a lot of weight and seems to have aged a lot. We talked about R, of course. I think we are both in a similar place - we are getting on with our lives, can cope with the day-to-day of his loss, but still feel it to be such an outrage that he is gone. After all the anguish and raw emotion of the previous months, what it all boils down to is that It. Is. Wrong.

He should be here pounding in fence posts with us, chatting about work and family, setting the table, opening a bottle of beer. He should just be here. That's all.
And he isn't.

But while we were away buying chicken wire and nails, Simon the Human Dynamo wasn't resting. No. He managed to get my Landrover working again. And performed the same miracle on the bench saw that wouldn't start for me. Relaid some wonky flagstones. Mended a couple of the chicken coops. When we returned with the pen-building supplies, he was off again.

As long as I kept him and the others fed with tea and cake, they kept working!

After two days of this, I had a pair of orderly chicken pens.

They will need some netting over the top to stop the hens flapping out, but otherwise the two pens will allow me to rotate the birds between the two and keep the ground sweet.

And I have an empty, washed and dug over greenhouse.

And a totally cleared vegetable garden, with hedge cut, beds dug over, cold frames washed, broad beans, onions and 1st early potatoes planted all ready for the spring frenzy.

I also seem to have acquired a new sawhorse and all the odd pieces of seasoned tree trunk lying in the barn are now neatly chainsawed to size (I was made to promise not to use the chainsaw on my own!).

On Saturday evening we all raised our glasses and wished R a happy birthday. Not too many tears, but a missed presence in the room.
He would have so loved the weekend.


  1. you have such a beautiful piece of land, and wonderful family and friends. i am sorry that all your help came from the fact that R was not there. you are in my thoughts.

  2. Isn't it always the kicker that when we have gatherings or work parties that our husbands would have loved, the reason behind the event is because they died and we need extra help or we're gathering in his honour? The irony of that always drives me crazy! But I'm so glad that you had such a productive weekend with the help of such great friends and family. Thank you for sharing the great pictures of your beautiful piece of Wales.

  3. Nice work! Such understanding friends, lucky you.
    You've been brave lately.