Strathean Harvest weekend
27th March to 1st April 2017
John Druce, a well wisher who had spent time on the property with a hiring group, arrived on the Wednesday prior to the Harvest Weekend, with his partner Adrian. They felled two pine trees, with the help of Yvonne’s husband John, Leigh Corner, and nature-oriented film makers Briony and Mark, who were staying and working on the property. The two trees were part of a field boundary that had been planted by us for quite a different (and unfulfilled) purpose many years ago. The trees were used to top up the supply of wood for our greedy wood-burner stove used to heat the water supply.
The team felled the trees and cut them into rounds and then used a large and impressive hydraulic wood splitting machine to split them into usable sized pieces. This wood was then stacked on site for drying. Our new bathrooms provided these unpaid workers relief from aching muscles over three days of toil.
The apples were gathered on the Friday - in only about an hour of picking. The gathering team consisted of Briony, a Hindu monk - a flute player from a local ashram - and myself. What we collected proved more than sufficient for the bottling.
On the Saturday, WSG members came together after a day in which about fifteen people, including about 4 to 5 WSG members, made up the work team. Michael and Gillian Harris spent what time they could over several visits, and Terrence O’Neil Joyce came down from Auckland to help that day. The non-members mostly came from regular hirers of the property.
Mostly people peeled and prepared the fruit grown on site. Some did not even take away the free apples on offer, but were only supplied with a midday lunch. All were 'silent mediators' of one kind or another and appreciated the half hour we offered them to practice that activity at midday. Several spoke of how deep they seemed to take their meditation on this occasion.
As usual our caretaker Yvonne Norfolk had charge of the kitchen where the cooking and bottling of apples took place. It was necessary that she also controlled the preparation of meals as the two activities required to be coordinated by one hand. People helped Yvonne when they could; setting tables and washing up. Some 50 jars and about 20 pottles of apples were created.
The remaining unpeeled, picked apples were boxed for delivery to those who were unable to come for any of the weekend. These and our Wellington premises hirers would be offered these for a Koha (donation). The birds at Strathean would also share in the abundant crop without charge. The tuis made a great deal of music. Ducks, pukekos and even domestic hens all contributed.
Other work was in progress throughout WSG’s 3 day event. John Norfolk completed the building of a herb garden made from two of the baths removed from our old bathrooms. This project would enable people working in the Kitchen to have access to herbs in close proximity. The herb garden had been one of Yvonne’s long term goals, even if the property was soon to be sold.
I (Ron) undertook a seasonal task of dead-heading the large number of Agapantha bushes that circled the property. Laurie Corner provided significant help in this task. The heads I subsequently gathered and conveyed to a bonfire in our field, which awaits being lit.
On Sunday we set time aside to watch a short DVD shot by our film-makers on nature as a healer. This film included a talk and chant from a Maori lady who also saw much to be grateful for in the restorative effects of the plants and animals, with which we share the planet.
Three meditations a day were enjoyed by all. Material from The Record was presented in three sessions which included interesting discussions. Many also shared in a pre-meditation “sacred walk” through our trees.
The weather remained cloudy throughout the three days, but much of the rest of the country was subject to a deluge, at Strathean there was only occasional light rain ... “Strathean weather.”