The New Batch of Volunteers

1 3 volunteersThe first couple of volunteers that I had were fantastic: they would not have quit working unless the chainsaw broke, and I rarely had to supervise; this new batch was close to the bottom of the scale.  It wasn’t because they were inexperienced – I expect that – but their attitude was really poor.  They were either very stupid or very lazy.  They were so much work for me, I have not had time to have a life, hence the long delay in writing these posts.  They did some work – because I pushed and pushed – but I could have done most of it myself, in  the same amount of time, with far less hassle – and cost: they were enormous eaters.

They simply were either unable to or refused to think.  I had to explain every detail.  When I left them for an hour, often as not, they sat around and did nothing.

They wanted to learn to use the chainsaw.  So they painfully slowly bucked up firewood.  Even with a measuring stick they could not get the size right.  This one actually had a knack for the tool – you could see by the way he held it when he was working.

3 falling treesBut otherwise he was was the one who stood around the most and he rarely smiled.  None of them had any enthusiasm for the work – they were obviously doing it only to have a holiday where someone fed them. Two were supposed to be studying English.  They would get marks at school for travelling in an English speaking country.  But among themselves they spoke only German.  I got the feeling they were counting the days until their plane took them home.

They half filled the woodshed in the first day, which was great.

2 woodshedHowever, despite being told repeatedly, they refused to fill the upper part: I will have to re-stack the wood before the next lot of volunteers arrive. From then on, it was downhill all the way.

It took 10 days to do the bit of wood and build two cold frames,

7 cold frame 1

8 cold frameOne day they collected rocks for the start of my long-awaited stone outdoor oven.  They had been arguing among themselves but for this task they actually worked well together and seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I thought my problems were over.

4 rock ramp

5 rock ramp 2This is simply the base: the top flat rock will be the baking stone.

6 stone ovenI no longer eat grain.  I provide home-made bread for the volunteers, but expect them to mix their own in the evening so that I can bake it early in the morning.  There is room for only two to work.  When I asked the three to choose who wanted to make the bread, one replied: “Only if I have to.”  This was typical.  Most volunteers love to make their own bread.

6a breadmakingI was constantly telling them to think.  But they never could.  Everything had to be spoon-fed.  It is scary to realize that these people will make world-changing decisions later in their lives.  One told me he had been in the army for a course during the last year of high school.  He loved it, but said that you had to really “switch off your brain,” as they tell you  do everything.  Obviously a good career choice for this young man.  I couldn’t resist saying: “Pity you never switched your brain back on again.”  He did have the grace to laugh.  (He was the best-natured of the three.)

On their time off, they never took a hike, they preferred to do nothing, or go on line.  One time we went to a neighbour’s south of Tatla Lake. Her place is a lot lower and the aspens had tiny new leaves.

9 sapeye lakeThe volunteers did a bit of gardening.  It was a calm day so they were able to use the owner’s canoe.  One belonged to a canoe club in Germany.    They at first refused lifejackets, sneering that they could swim well.  They seemed reluctant to do any canoeing at all, but went out for a bit anyway.

10 canoeI visited another lake nearby for a short time, and enjoyed the view from another friends’ house.

11 horn lakeOne volunteer left after a week because of arguments between the three of them.  The other two were supposed to stay another week.  But when I left them for an hour while I finished baking some bread, I found they had done 3 stupid, thoughtless things in a row and lost my temper with them.  They had their own vehicle and could leave.  As they were packing I found a huge bag of garbage – waste food (that the dogs could have eaten), unwashed cans of tuna that should have been cleaned and put in the recycling, and so on.  I had explained several times that rotting food stored in the cabin would attract bears.  They would pass the dump on their way out, so I gave it to them to take with them.  Later I found they had tossed it along my road.



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