Monday, 20 October 2008

Winter Preparations

The tractor still isn’t back so I decided to make a start on some of the outdoor preparations for winter. First up was cutting back the mulberry trees. Last year I made the mistake of leaving it too late and there was a sharp frost. All the leaves dropped in one go and the rain and frost of the following couple of days turned them into a ghastly slime that coated the grass. I really didn’t want to have to deal with that again this year so out came the long handled loppers and the pruning saw and I set to work.

The trees have done what they were planted for all summer; they provided shade for the car and the washing line. Now that summer is over, the car doesn’t need the shade and the washing needs to be able to see the sun to have any chance of the washing drying. After a few hours of pruning (it always takes much longer than I think it will), voila –

One reason for the slowness today was the heat. It may be autumn, heading for winter and the overnight temperature may have been 5°C but by the afternoon the temperature in the shade was 25°C and in the sun it peaked at 44°C. Working outside requires two sets of work clothes, a winter type set for the mornings and a summer type set for the afternoons. Tomorrow however we’re forecast rain and a drop in temperature despite the lovely red sunset out there tonight.

Once I’d finished the trees and then dealt with the alpacas I turned my attention to the wooden garden furniture. A had very kindly painted it with a special hard wood oil when he was here back at the beginning of summer, looking at it after a summer in the dappled sunlight it hadn’t fared any better than the doors C and M painted with linseed oil for me and they spend a large part of the summer in direct sunlight. The special hard wood oil cost around 18€ for a litre, my linseed mix works out at about 2€30 a litre so guess what I will be using from now on.

The home-made oil is a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine (as a carrier). The book I got the recipe from states that for soft woods use 75% oil, 25% turps and for hard wood use a 50:50 mixture. Half the time I’ve no idea what sort of wood I’m treating so I make up a general mixture of two thirds linseed oil and one third turps and use it for everything. By the time the sun started to go down I managed to do the upper surface of the table and three of the five chairs.

The other two chairs will get done as and when and I will also be treating all the wooden handles of my gardening implements.


Georgina said...

Wow Deborah, it's amazing how quickly winter is approaching, and the nights drawing in. Weird however, how hot it's been and the flies still bugging the horses. I am going to try your wood mix when we get back to blighty. I hope winter is kind this year, although they are forecasting a cold one. As we both know though French Meteo really is bollox! Debs x

dND said...

Hi Debs, I think the linseed and the turps are much cheaper over here than in the UK - but then again I never bought them in the UK.

I do so love the smell of linseed oil too, it's a pleasure to paint the furniture with it.

French Meteo - well I've noticed that there is more than one site giving the forecast and quite often they say the opposite so one of them has to be right. I just wake up and see what it's actually doing, it's the only way to be sure.

VP said...

Crumbs that's quite a temperature differential!

Do you get fruit from your mulberry tree too?

dND said...

Hi VP. The trees do produce a few fruit at the beginning of the year. They are OK but nothing to rave about and certainly nowhere near enough to harvest - about half a dozen last year.