Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Counting Down to Winter – part 2


The next major job to get done before winter is to seed the orchard area.  This is about 1200 m2 and before seeding, it needed to be raked to remove the troughs caused by the cultivator digging in and by the tractor wheels.  I was slightly hampered too…Jewel decided I wasn’t taking enough attention of her and when she realised that I was ignoring her climbing posts and chewing them she took a far more direct approach and attacked the rake.

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The soil was in perfect condition for raking but it still took a whole day to rake the area.  I was trying very hard to get it done before the rain we had been promised arrive. This was taken about half way through.

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Although the day stayed dry the wind was far too strong to allow me to seed which was probably jut as well since the rain we got was rather hard and might have washed all the seed to the bottom of the slope.  I now need to wait a couple more days until I can walk on the soil again and can then seed the area.

Since I couldn’t get on with the seeding that evening I took a stroll across my harvested field to pick a few more hazel nuts and rose hips.  On walking back my eye was caught by something in the harvesting debris.  My apologies for the lack of focus.

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Another sign that winter is approaching, a roe deer antler.  I think it is from a 3 year old, and it is 14 cm long.  I’ve always wanted to find antlers and have over the years spent time looking in woods but never finding any and then I find one when not looking, but that’s life isn’t it!

And a final sign for this post:

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Making use of a good drying day to wash the summer clothes before putting them away and bringing out the winter ones.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Counting Down to Winter – part 1

It’s been nearly a week since my last summer visitor, my son ‘A’ left but is seems so much longer. ‘A’ had been here for nearly 7 weeks and between us we got a couple of the more difficult/time-consuming jobs done.  The first one was the hay-loft floor. This is a long running saga and starts about 2 and a half years ago; that’s when my other son ‘G’ fell through the hayloft floor while helping me stack bales. We decided that on his return visit we would re-floor the loft.

He returned last summer for a long stay, by which time I had also had a go at falling through the floor but thankfully didn’t succeed anywhere near as well as ‘G’.  After a few days of searching we found a reasonably local building suppliers and collected twelve 4m long flooring planks.  They only had the 12 so the other 88 I needed had to be ordered.  Not too much of a problem or so I thought; I’d glanced at the order and saw that the date was only a couple of weeks away.  Silly me, I didn’t think to check the month as well, I just assumed that a national chain of building supplies wouldn’t need nearly 2 months to obtain 88 flooring planks!  So ‘G’ and I put up the dozen planks we had obtained and the remaining planks arrived 2 weeks after he had left.

I put another dozen or so in on my own, a long task due to having to keep going up and down the ladder between measuring, cutting and fixing the planks and put in about the same again with the help of other friends over the course of late spring and early summer.  With ‘A’s’ help we put in all the remaining boards that we could, (I still have 3 support beams to replace before I can re-floor), and also removed an old pigeon loft which was in the corner of the hay loft.  We were then able to move all remaining planks onto the hayloft floor so they don’t have to spend another year outside.

As well as the hayloft, ‘A’ and I had another project, the polytunnel.  The instructions said it was a 2 day job for 2 people……. I beg to differ.

It took us around 3 weeks – not every day and not all day but long enough each day.  Making sense of the instructions was the first challenge.  It wasn’t that the instructions were lacking it was just making sure we got them right.  It would have been a lot faster if we’d put up a polytunnel before and knew what we were doing, so I was paranoid about making a mistake and ruining it.  Added to that the days were very hot and it is difficult reading instructions with sweat running into your eyes.  ‘A’ was very patient with me.

The site I chosen look relatively level and I’d rotavated the ground and raked it too, however once we’d put the support post in; a small matter of digging fourteen 30cm square and 50cm deep holes for the anchor plates, it became very obvious that the ground sloped quite steeply.

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The picture above shows the basic frame and the top of the boarding to the right is on a level with ground level on the left.  A lot of earth shifting was and still is required.  Thankfully the rotavator did and excellent job of digging into the rock hard ground and generating earth to backfill but I think that I will still be shifting earth throughout this winter before it is fully levelled inside and out. However:-

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The first planting is in :-)