Saturday, March 6, 2010

Students arrive and the semester beings

The Week
What a hectic week this has been, with the arrival of the GMC students and working long days. Each day brought a new challenge and learning experience. As I was just getting settled in with my new situation, sixteen people show up and throw everything back up into the air. The students arrived around two on Monday and were given time to meet with Jane and settle in. We also had a communal dinner that night to welcome the students.

One of the first matters of the day was my room change. When I got to Brunnenburg I was sleeping in a room that was supposed to be for two people, now that the students have arrived, I had to vacate. But I am happy with my new room. I no longer have a personal bathroom but the room has a grape feeling to it. Nik used this room as a drying area and this batch of grapes still needed some more time. I get the pleasure of sleeping in the presence of these wonderful smelling grapes.

My bed

Nik has also started to show me how to use the tractor on the farm. I have never ridden a tractor but I was really excited to learn. I am nervous to use such an expensive and essential aspect of the farm but Nik is patient and I believe I will get the hang of it. The tractor can have a bucket as pictured below or a forklift attachment that can carry pallets around.

As the students caught up on their much-needed sleep, I worked on an addition to the goat fence. Julia has a habit of simply jumping over the fence when she wants to. I put up this barrier to hopefully deter her from continuing this practice, we can only wait and see if it works.
I also worked at the wood shed where all of the wood for the castle is chopped. Various sizes are needed depending on what stove they go to. Nik cut big logs into smaller pieces that I then made a pile with. George, a tenant of the castle, then took the wood and cut it up smaller for later use.
Nik and I then continued to prune more vines until the sun went down
Brunnenburg tries to raise rare breeds of animals to continue their historic and genetic value. Today we worked on shearing the sheep for spring and to rid them of those heavy coats. The species of sheep are called Zackelschaf and originate from Hungary. The breed itself is a timid one that has been around since the 1800's. Their horns have a spiral shape and point outwards. The wool was previously used in the garden but Nik and India plan to felt the wool. It can then be made into anything from slippers to a hat.
The sheep before we began to shear
Nik setting up the buzzer and shearing a sheep
After the sheep is sheared
We spent the rest of the day shearing the sheep and also fixing up some tools
A chestnut
Every week the students are to participate in a workday. This practice brings everyone together to work and help improve the farm. Usually these days will fall on Tuesday but for the first one was on Thursday. The students had other things to do on Tuesday. Nik started the day with a talk about the farm, what is grown, a bit of history of the area, and glass of white wine. White wine is sometimes drunk in the morning to prepare someone for the day, sorta of like coffee. The students sat around and listen to what was today's task. I was given the job to oversee two projects.
One of these projects was the digging of a trench on one of the green roofs. Below the one roof is another green roof that is made of wood and not cement, so when water gets onto the wood it starts to rot. This new trench will divert the water from the roof below. The trench was dug down to the cement and is about two feet wide. Alana and Elana were given the task to dig the trench. They did a really great job and also successfully removed two plants that will be replanted elsewhere.
The trench
Elena and Alana working
The other project that I oversaw was a weeding project by one of staircases. Ivy covered most of the top of a stone wall and needed to be cleared away. Katlyn and Kate were on this task and spent the day clearing away rubbish. They had to also clean off another set of stairs further down and complete a few other small tasks.
The wall
Another group working
After the day was over everyone got together and ate dinner to celebrate the hard work that was done.

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