This was to be our first woofing experience ever!
We were excited, the farm sounded lovely: nestled in a valley in the volcanic landscape of the Catalan region around Olot, known as La Garrotxa. The online description spoke of the traditional restored farm house from the 15th century, inhabited by a Scottish-Catalan couple and their two cats and golden retriever Brigid (sometimes aka Brigitte Bardot or Brigid Jones).
Our room was absolutely grandiose, huge. It took up the whole upstairs side of the rather big structure and had a big carved Catalan king sized bed. Oak beams and white wash completed the picture. The ancient church was just opposite and we had the view of the snow-topped peaks of the Pyrenees to admire (and the grave yard).
The market garden was well organised, with neat rows of 55.70 m length and irrigation pipes laid out. We arrived at a perfect time to rescue the onions and garlic from being smothered with weeds. Well, this is what you have in an organic system, it takes a lot of basic hand-weeding to keep the herbage under control, if you don’t mulch or employ plastic as ground cover.
So for the next 5 days I was basically on my knees getting to grips with the chickweed, fat hen, grass and other common garden weeds – five hours at a stretch.
Thankfully the sun was warming up the air and at eleven o’clock I took off my jacket and put on my straw hat. There is something meditative about being close to Mother Nature and hear bird song (and unfortunately the ever-present sound of the rendering factory nearby). The cuckoo also gave a guest appearance and Nigel was drafted into setting up a badger fence. Apparently, this ubiquitous animal has a habit of pulling the squash out of the garden and mauling them. Of course there are also the wild black pigs, plentiful in the oak forests of Catalonia and the Pyrenees.
We came across a herd of brown porkers, albeit fenced in as part of a business, ham factory on our walks in the immediate area. They were a lively bunch and a bit easily scared, but full of fun & games.
On the Sunday I needed to get the urge out of my system to cycle to Olot onto the Greenway, the old railway track from Olot to Girona, the ‘Via Verde del Carrilet Olot-Girona’ while Nigel put in some overtime to finish the rustic timber fence with Joan.
Unfortunately Nigel spread the McWilliams ‘flu and our host Joan succumbed first and then me. So exploring was hampered somewhat, but one day we went to have a look at the local villages of Castellfollit de la Roca, a village hanging from a rock, Argelaguer , Besalu, and Banyoles, famous for the huge reservoir lake bordering the town.
Argelaguer (with cat-feeding station)
Castellfollit de la Roca
On the last day Nigel was put to the task of first rotavating an area of overgrown vegetable plots and then collecting the bits of grass sods to use as transplants for the driveway. It ended up looking like a hair transplant ….. .
After 6 days tending to their garden, Judith and Joan took us out for dinner as a thank you.