We are still here!

I thought it was about time I updated our website and was surprised to find I was last here on April Fools Day 2018! Perhaps I haven’t been able to find anything good to say since then – the last couple of years do seem to have been a catalogue of disaster in so many ways. However, they have also been a reminder of how lucky many of us are to have been born when and where we were and that, whilst pandemics are new to us – tragedy and misery have long been commonplace for many other people. Here’s hoping that the current unhappy state of affairs improves soon and that we all take with us into the future new ideas and ways of being that will help to improve the chances for the earth and her inhabitants as we go forward.

So how has the pandemic affected life in Yomer Wood? Well I think its non human inhabitants reveled in the chance to have free rein during the first Lockdown. A Mallard was successful in hatching 12 ducklings on the pond – the first time we have known one to hatch and keep her ducklings – and then proceeded to commute between our pond and two others in the neighbourhood via the main Lee road without incident due to the lack of traffic. There was an amusing battle of proprietorship of said mallard amongst several pond owners in the village – ourselves included – but as she hatched the brood on our pond, I think we can safely claim her as our own.

The daily commute

With the children at home and time on our hands, we pressed the kids into service helping us plant apple trees. We had a space where we had cleared a number of larch trees and wanted to replace them with some native trees. Through a group called Orchards live https://www.orchardslive.org.uk which exists to promote and restore orchards of traditional Devon apples, I had learnt how to graft apple scions onto rootstock the previous February and had a dozen standard trees ready to plant. Each tree required the children to dig post holes so we could cage each tree in its own personal deer proof Alcatraz. The trees did well last summer and we are looking forward to this years blossom display. There are a number of sloe and damson trees in the hedgerow in this area of the woods and we also erected a poly tunnel we had been given and had a summer self-sufficient in tomatoes. So this part of the woods is beginning to morph into our kitchen garden. Like so many people this year, we discovered the joy of growing our own as, for once, we actually had the time to weed and water and often just sit and inhale the scent of tomatoes and basil. This years seeds are burning a hole in my palm as I wait for the right day to start planting.

Planting the Orchard at Home School

When lockdown lifted we had a busy summer with visitors quickly booking out the whole site in bubbles, keen to at last get away, but wanting to remain safely socially distanced. Yomer was perfect for this. As ever, our guests were brilliant – self sufficient, capable and very happy with the minimal facilities but the maximum peace that Yomer offers. Our campers always leave the site as they find it, generally the only evidence that there has been someone around is a few extra empties in the recycling bin. One group stood out this year – two young families with toddlers who had experienced a week of torrential rain. On their last day I cowered as they approached me, expecting to have to explain the unpredictable Devon climate, but they told me they’d had a brilliant time and asked to stay an extra night!

So we wrapped up the season in October 2020, and Angus has spent a winter of chopping, bagging and selling wood and managing the pigs and chickens that are busy rooting and scratching up the land. It is exceptionally muddy up there at the moment and as I look out now, the rain continues to fall incessantly. Last spring – and indeed most of the summer – was so warm and dry and we are looking forward to more of that in the hopefully not too distant future. We are now waiting to see when we can welcome guests for 2021. If you think you might like to bring a group to Yomer, get in touch. I’m happy to take provisional bookings whilst we wait to find out what we can and can’t do safely.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping for better times ahead for us and the other species we share this planet with.