Strollings, Pootlings and Musings

Strollings, Pootlings and Musings
Season 8 – Summer 2021
Series 8 – New Starts Always Start At The Start!
Wednesday 28th July 2021
“l just want to be busy!”

My second time volunteering at the reserve was this morning – bit of a difference weather wise to last Wednesday. For starters thankfully it wasn’t a direct heat atop my head slowly turning me into a liquidised human puddle! This time however in some ways it was worse … it was wet tropical weather – muggy and humid with the occasional shower – the very nature of this week. I had hoped for something a little different in the tasks for the day – however once more it was netting duckweed off the surface of the pond. Luckily l didn’t have to hold secure the boat and be the second rope man, but l was for much of the time ‘not actually doing anything productive’. The pond ‘support crew’ seemed to enjoy just chatting which drove me nuts!

I have said to the Head Warden – Todd – that there needs to be some kind of formal work schedules for the volunteers. I don’t mind giving my time away, after all l do have time to spare hence why l am a volunteer in the first place, but l don’t like wasting my time, l like to be productive. I like to be busy. I am not a social party animal; sure the occasional bit of banter is fine – but we can talk and work at the same time and that is what l want to do and if l am to talk [although even better is just work and not talk]. I would rather do so with a tool of some kind in my hands. I am a hard worker, for years people have referred to me as a donkey or a work horse – l like hard work.

In truth l really do well in the most boring of tasks, those jobs that no one wants because it is so damn banal – well l excel in that kind of work because l switch off and knuckle down. Also, l do really well by myself, mostly on account of 1] not talking for no reason and 2] l just get on and work straight.

Today however, the morning was spent watching two others in the rowboat netting duckweed. Which is not productive – not to me, but also, l don’t think it is overly productive for the volunteers. Two people in a rowboat rowing around the pond to remove the ever-closing time consuming weed from the lilies only to not see any real progress – where is the efficiency in that?

There was talk of various contraptions some of which are solar powered that might be able to clear the duckweed off the pond. These solar machines will aerate the water and if enough movement is awarded to the water, the duck weed will not form so well … apparently – but l think that what is truly needed is either a pump vacuum to extract the weed itself in an automated fashion but this could damage the other microscopic wildlife including the slowly growing fish populations we have, or wait hopefully for the winter frosts or even introduce an organic predator to the weed that is NOT a predator to all other life. But if we introduce a beetle as has been suggested, this will become a snack to increasing duck populations!

Who knows, but something needs to happen – because rowing around in a boat with nets is not making a huge impact.

I am also there this coming Friday with a couple of the others to start clearing pathways in the overgrown shrubbery – ‘it’s a jungle out there ‘ is an understatement for some of the areas in the reserve. It had been – l heard today, before the renovation works started last January – left neglected for between five to seven years by the last warden before Todd arrived fresh this year.

He believes it’ll take teams of volunteers a good five years alone to get the reserve back into the conservation status it used to hold before it was left to its own devices. I don’t doubt that time period although l think it could be much longer if 1] we don’t get more than 8 people a time helping and 2] if we keep rowing around the pond endeavouring to net the pondweed!

I have said l will start the compost pile this winter, and l will start gathering the materials needed from the pathway clearings and the duckweed scoop offs. I think an active compost heap created and turned using their own resources will be a great way to help the reserve. i also learned today that as it is a Trust, they are allowed to generate a profit – so if the compost was viable, maybe we could generate enough for them to be able to sell some of the bags off to even just the volunteers or visitors to the reserve and generate some additional funds that way.

It is of course early days and l am happy to spend between 1 – 3 days a week helping out as a volunteer – as long as they keep me busy and l feel that my time is being used productively l’ll be fine.

Thanks for reading …. catch you next time.

15 thoughts on “Strollings, Pootlings and Musings

  1. Sounds frustrating. I am like you. I don’t mind chatting but we can work and chat at the same time no? And why continue to do the same thing over and over? If not working after three tries it is time to move on and try something new. 🙂

    1. Hey Sadje, well l hope they will start utilising the volunteers more and start to look at other tasks otherwise as l said to Grace. I’ll just find tasks to do by myself and crack on.

  2. Ah, that can be a problem with volunteering – some folks consider it social time and for the ones who would rather actually be doing something – heads bump. I was once offered a job as Volunteer Coordinator – I rejected that right quick – I believe I referred to it as akin to herding cats…

    1. I have volunteered before also, and one of the biggest flaws is the ‘social side’ which has never interested me in the slightest.

      I think l will have to sit down with them and get a separate list of jobs so l can just get on with things.

  3. Why don’t they use drag nets along the surface and then release any critters that accidentally get caught up?

    I read that Koi eat duck weed but introducing non-native species can be a serious recipe for trouble!

    Yeah, if I’m gonna volunteer, I wanna be useful. I’ve done beach clean ups, and chatting as you walk along picking up trash is at least productive🙄

    1. Well yesterday we started working with a boom and if you look closely at the first photograph and about 8 – 10 feet behind the boat you can see something white just on the surface behind the reeds.

      But it wasn’t being used properly. Ideally, these boom bars are meant to curb ‘slicks in water’ like oil. But these booms came from the EA – Environmental Agency and they are not meant to be dragged behind a rowboat.

      I suggested that we use them as they are supposed to be used and that is to use them to block off an area then net it out and progress like that at one small section at a time.

      The other alternative l think might be to make some protection for the lilies rather than trying to tackle duckweed once a week.

      Netting is one way to go, but that is usually only really effective with smaller ponds, water pumps could work, but again best and better in smaller areas, an idea might be a generated water pump vacuum, but they are worried about critters …. l think sometimes things have to be a bit brutal before they improve. Failing that tackle the jobs that can make an impact and it means volunteers feel good about giving up their free time.

  4. I think the word “volunteer” means different things to different folks! Sime don’t take the tasks seriously. Have a great day, Rory!

    1. Hey Eugenia, here’s wishing you a truly lovely Thursday afternoon. I have been pretty unwell today and am about to retire for the night.

      You are quite right … to some it’s just some time away from the house.

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