After a wet and stormy previous week, Monday 22nd May was bright and clear and hot! The children from Moretonhampstead Primary School were planting the trees that they had grown from seed in our newly felled area of Butterdon Wood.
Our day started off with a member of staff calling in sick, another caught up in a traffic jam, a van that needed to go in for an MOT and a shire horse who was feeling really lazy and didn’t want to walk up to the woods.
But after a frustrating start the team at Running Deer do what we do best… adapt, improvise and overcome.
Staff were briefed on duties and activities; Anna on green woodworking and charcoal, Fiona on her willow house, Julie in the forest garden, Sam was in charge of the den building and Jo would be working with Trelawny. Volunteer parents from the school took control of the tree planting and organised the forks, spades and shovels accordingly.
Trees and Trelawny
The trees were already on site; seventy 4- 5ft trees including hazel, rowan and birch, all having survived being potted up in the spring ready for replanting in their new home. We trailered them up to the site, along with the tools and ensured that everyone knew where to plant, and how close they needed to be to each other.
Trelawny arrived and was keen to tuck into the lush green grass by camp, and he needed to be harnessed up ready for the day. The sun came out and the temperatures rose.
At 10.30am seventy children arrived and came into our main camp for a break and a health and safety talk from staff. Split into groups, all the children would be tree planting and participating in the other activities throughout the day.
Trelawny settled into the routine of being long reined in harness up and down the track by eager faced children wanting to have a go with the shire horse. In groups of 4 the children would take it in turns to work with Trelawny, and were introduced to the basic commands of walk on and whoa.
Trelawny behaved beautifully and walked up and down the track all day long until all the trees were planted and it was time for the children to walk back to school.
Smiling faces and exhausted staff
We have never worked with such a lot of children before as the work we do is very specialised and high support for young people with additional needs. Although so many children in our woodland was daunting they behaved beautifully and all left with bigs smiles on their faces, as well as charcoal!
After an exhausting day Trelawny was keen to go home, and set off at a surprisingly fast pace back to his stable companions a mile down the road.
It was a fantastic day and we are delighted to have been able to provide a corner of our woodland for Moretonhampstead Primary School to plant their trees. We hope they keep in touch and come and visit us often to check on their trees, and maybe enjoy a picnic or two at our beautiful woodland on the edge of Dartmoor.