Last month I told you the sad news of how two of our fruit trees didn’t survive the harsh winter we had. Well, both have now been cut down, nothing left except a big, empty space. But they won’t have died in vain as the wood will be burned in our stove during the next winter.

Farewell dear Helga
July 2021

The other sad news is that Helga aka ‘The Explorer’ sadly passed away and is now off exploring realms she could only ever have dreamed of. She died peacefully on the longest day, June 21st, and in the evening we lit a fire to celebrate the Summer Solstice and the [helga2021] embers gently carried her away on the wind to fields undiscovered and pastures unexplored. At least, that’s what I choose to believe.

She hadn’t quite been herself for over a week, but she was still eating and wandering off as she normally does. On the longest day, however, she had gone out as usual, only for our neighbour to bring her home to us because Helga was unable to walk.

We believe that Helga was quite a bit older than the rest of the brood we adopted and we’ve invented this story that the farmer accidently gave away his daughter’s devoted pet chicken when we came to ‘rescue’ The Club. Now the little girl (let’s say her name is Ellie), is very sad and her heart aches for the return of her precious little feathered friend, whom she adoringly calls ‘White Princess’. Every day Ellie sits at her window, her eyes wet with tears, hoping, longing for ‘White Princess’ to come home... Of course this is all pure fantasy, still, Helga was extremely affectionate towards humans and a while back we had a little get-together with the neighbours and she just wandered amongst us ‘mingling’ as if she was one of the revellers. Don’t remember her name on the guest list!

This picture showing Helga in the foreground was taken just 3 days before she passed away and she was still misbehaving right to the end, refusing to have her picture taken, just like a real diva.

Farewell dear Helga, “may you explore the everlasting green fields and get lots of attention from the angels!”

A couple of months ago we bought a new apple tree (never imagining the other one was going to perish) and I found a half-sprouted acorn at the bottom of the pot the tree came in. So, I put it in a separate pot, not really expecting it would grow, but guess what? It grew! To my utter astonishment we now have a tiny, wee oak tree! I am over the moon as I’ve been trying to grow oaks from acorns for years with the intention of planting them out in the field dedicated to becoming a forest. So, there you go: 2 trees for the price of one. Bargain!

This tiny, survivalist oak will hopefully join this rowan tree in some years time to create a small, wooded area which will then become home to red squirrels (Glendevon miraculously has no grey squirrels, just a small population of reds), even more woodland birds (we’ve already got lots of tits, which are really a woodland species but thrive in towns and cities too), various fungi, woodpeckers and who knows, we might even attract a ‘richness’ of pine martens. Yep, that’s what a group of them are called. I think!

Our neighbour has very kindly given his permission to plant trees on an unused piece of his land; this will benefit all of us as the trees will give some protection against drifting snow and our trees will soak up excess rainwater which reduces flooding further downstream in the village.

I have been growing trees for several years now, but we’ve only planted out rowans and goat willow. Mind you, the goat willow will claim that it wasn’t grown by us; it is a rather well-adapted tree species for this area as it has been self-seeding everywhere and we’ve only relocated some of them to more suitable locations, I hope it likes its new home!
I’ve got a whole variety of different trees waiting to be planted in the ‘woodland-to-be’, there are 4 chestnut trees (sown in 2018 by our nieces), more rowan trees, another small oak, elder trees, a sycamore, a beech tree and pine trees. We planted brambles around the little rowans to protect them from any peckish stray sheep that wander into our garden, but mainly to prevent roe deer nibbling the leaves off the young trees. Although, I just checked and one rowan tree shows signs of being munched, it still has a few tattered leaves left, so hopefully it will survive.
I can’t wait to see how our ‘woodland-to-be’ will grow. To see it mature into a proper woodland would be a dream come true. You know, that’s perhaps my only regret in life... that I can’t add 100 years to my life to watch this tiny baby oak grow into a tall, majestic oak tree. Sigh... maybe next month’s blog will be a little bit more upbeat and positive!

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