The Bloody Ploughman

The tree planting squad

Snow, frozen ground, rain, no volunteers, apple trees not turning up on time or lost in transit, a shortage of food and the list goes on. It could have been a complete disaster. But on Saturday 23rd February, with the invaluable help of around 40 kind volunteers, we managed to successfully plant 104 Bloody Ploughman and ten other Scottish rare variety apple trees. The sun shone, the mulled cider flowed, the organically reared barbecue food was munched and we met many lovely new neighbours for the first time. After almost 90 days of flat out work, work that been pretty much only about 'steadying the decrepit ship, it was our first feeling of progress, doing something new for ourselves, making our own mark.

I was incredibly anxious beforehand. A nightmare to live with, I have been told. Well, even more of a nightmare than usual.While used to ploughing my own furrow and standing on my own two feet as a self employed handyman, I am no stranger to isolation and solitary work. From the 114 holes that had to be prepared in advance (OCD meant I wanted nice straight avenues) this was however my first insight into the real isolation of the life of a farmer. It's not just the petty officials of Big State, health or finances that can hinder but the uncertainty of weather adds a whole new dimension. To that end we asked for a small contribution from attendees in aid of the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution. Some maybe felt it was supporting the gentlemen farmers in their Range Rovers but there are many more small families out there who work harder than many will ever understand and where depression and suicide is not uncommon; the farmer may be alone in his tractor for much of the day with nobody to chat to until evening, let alone sick pay or a finance department to whom he submits his unquestioned expenses. We believe it is a good cause. So thank you for your donations.

A huge thank you to all who helped, particularly those travelling from the likes of England, Glasgow and Edinburgh. And at a time when rugby was on. Your support was invaluable. Until next time I shall leave you with a snapshot of the day in photos.


Clear skies - a hopeful start to the day

Bundles of ten bareroot apple trees heeled in in advance of the proper planting

114 bare root apple trees, stakes, rabbit guards plus ten blueberry plants all contained on one pallet

Nigel, one of the tree planting stars of the day

All ages hard at work

A real community affair

Steve and Sophie - teamwork with style

Local beekeepers, Tom and Dorothy, chat with apple expert, John Hancox

Watering in - a great spectator sport

Emma Hay - the life and soul of the party

Barbecue, mulled cider and a bit of socialising

A day out for all ages

The new orchard

Now for the next challenge; pollination! Jack of all trades, master of none.

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