Evil, thy name is rhododendron

20 Feb

I swear, it is evil

 

It’s WWOOFing time! After a month of being a tourist and lazing about, I was more than ready to get my hands dirty again. It was pure luck that landed me and Bridget at Craichlaw Estate in Southern Scotland. When it comes to WWOOFing you never really know what you are going to get. Every new host is completely different. Perhaps they are different for the better or perhaps it is for the worst, but you can never truly know what it is going to be like.

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The house, or should I say mansion?

Craichlaw turned out to be a large estate and our hosts were Andrew and Mary who ran the huge operation and graciously welcomed us into their museum status home. Bridget and I were fortunate enough to be given the best possible digs. We had our own apartment complete with separate bedrooms and individual bathrooms: it doesn’t get much better than that!

For the two and a half weeks Bridget and I worked our little tushies off. Our primary task was clearing the surrounding wood of that little rascal rhododendron. If you were to take a quick glance at our work you would think we were merely moving large bushes over about 50 feet, and sure sometimes it felt like that was all we were doing, but at the end of the day we managed to ride the land of a whole lot of nasty, invasive plants.

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Our trees will look like this one day

In addition to plant hacking we helped plant over a thousand trees on top of a hill. It was rough work, but the view of the sunset from atop the hill made it all worth it. The sky was a different color in every direction and where ever you looked you could see for mile upon gorgeous mile.

Most mornings were were lucky enough to get to feed the animals. There were 2 horses, 5 sheep and a whole mass of piglets. Plus, we could coo over the neighbor’s super cute calves (as in cows, not legs).

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Ruby, the 7/8 thoroughbred horse

The pigs were the most entertaining. Whenever you entered the pen the piglets would crowd you and nibble your boots and the HUGE sows would nudge you rather roughly with their massive heads. There were several occasions where I barely escaped falling face first into the puddle of feces and urine that was ever present. Being around animals can have a very calming effect, but I don’t recommend it if you don’t like getting a bit dirty.

During the many wet and rainy days we would sit inside chatting or listening to music while we polished the large collection of old leather bound books. We found one that was printed in 1642! If we weren’t outside or polishing books we helped make bread or uncatalogued furniture. It might sound like we worked a lot (and we did), but it was great fun and it felt amazing to spend so much time out doors in such a beautiful place. We were also spoiled with delicious food and great company.

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An afternoon walk with Daisy

I want to sincerely thank Andrew and Mary for giving us such an amazing experience. I came away with more new knowledge than I ever expected. The whole point of this whole experience is to get out there and experience new things and meet knew people. Sometimes things don’t work out, but in this instance they could not have been better. The bar has been set high.

Next up: Have you ever been in the same room as 2,000 chickens? Well, I have!

**I apologize for all errors, if it annoys you that much, don’t read it!**

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2 Responses to “Evil, thy name is rhododendron”

  1. anniespence February 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    Amazing handling a book from 1642, I’m so happy you are writing in a journal for all of us to read.

  2. Andrew Gladstone February 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Sophie,

    We really appreciated your help and it was great fun having you and Bridget to stay. I hope the rest of your trip goes well.

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