Of alcoholic voles and Linda’s magnificent buns

NB: As I was away in the Lake District over Easter weekend what follows is a report based on notes provided by Sam. Any errors or libelous content are entirely her fault and nothing to do with me.

Traditionally Easter weekend marks the start of the gardening year. For most people this means a trip to the garden centre to stock up on bedding plants, lawn feed and a pot of daffodils. At the community allotment it means digging, and more digging.

In a last push to get things ready for the planting season Easter weekend was designated ‘big dig’ weekend. Volunteers were urged to turn up on both Saturday and Monday from 11.30 onward to get all the remaining beds dug over and the manure and compost that has been sitting on them over winter dug in.

I’m writing this on Easter Monday, which has been a total wash out, with no chance of doing anything at the allotment, but happily Saturday did see some activity. It was another chilly day with an Easterly wind (no snow this time at least). Nevertheless, Spring was definitely in the air at last; the Primroses in the orchard were looking lovely and a pair of Great Tits were travelling busily back and forth preparing their nest in one of the boxes among the trees.

The scheduled start time for the big dig had come and gone by the time Sam made her appearance, having spent the previous two hours trying to get the fire going, past guidance on how this is best accomplished having failed to have the desired outcome. No matter, she arrived just in time for lunch (which is just as well, since failing to light fires can be a wearisome business). The highlights of the meal were Linda’s Hot Cross buns. These were greatly appreciated by everyone, but especially by Barney, whose comment on the magnificence of Linda’s buns provoked much sniggering and general ‘Carry On’.

After lunch work continued (or in Sam’s case, began). Most of the digging was done by Barney and Andrew while Sam and Linda worked on distributing the remaining weed compost. It was in the course of this latter activity that the alcoholic voles were discovered. Finding voles in the compost bins is not unusual – it’s a nice warm place to spend the winter, if you’re a vole. This year’s voles, however, have taken a liking to rotting, fermenting apples. Fermenting fruit, of course, develops an alcoholic content, so in the interests of public order and vole health Linda had already removed the apples from the voles’ compost bin. On re-opening it, however, it was clear that the voles had been busily re-establishing their stash. Linda removed the apples again but the clever money says the apples will be back by next week. The voles have clearly already developed a habit.

Apples temporarily re-located, Sam and Linda got on with compost distribution. Sam was allowed to dig the compost out of the bin and help spread it on the beds but Linda took charge of wheelbarrow pushing. Sam has been banned from the latter role on health and safety grounds since the time that she tried to tip some manure onto a raised bed and tipped herself onto it instead.

Compost spreading completed, Barney said that he thought one of the raised beds was over-full and needed lowering (see previous post). Sam decided it was time to go home and check that the fire was alright.

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