Monday, 19 September 2011

True Friends


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I am blessed with some really wonderful friends and words just seem so inadequate to express my gratitude to them last week.

In the background of the picture of the beautiful morning glories above you can just make out the two alpaca fields that are fenced.  There were two more where the posts were in but were still waiting to be fenced.  It’s been a while since the posts were put in and for various reasons the fields were never finished but I’d decided that they were going to be done this year. 

However when I went round the field to clear the growth from the fence line it quickly became obvious that the 60+ post along the boundary with my neighbour were going to have to be redone as they were falling into the ditch between us.  I think this is the result of clearing the ditch and the severe drought we had at the beginning of the year.  There was a deep crack in the soil running along the line of the posts, a bit like join the dots; some of the post were already falling into the ditch and the bank was crumbling in other places.

All my enthusiasm crumbled too, the though of resetting them all  50cm further into the field, digging into a clay soil that had set like concrete, was truly daunting.  I tried to buoy myself up by thinking how much harder it would be if the fencing had already been attached but even my positive attitude has a limit. 

Then I was told of a petrol post hole digger for hire so decided to ask if anyone would be able to give me and my son Al a hand with the posts. Ann H, Alex B, Chris A, Chris O, Eric S, Graham D, Jos O, Sandra A, Terry D, and Tricia S all said they would come for the day.

An early start for me (I’m not a morning person at all) meant I picked up the post holer and the bread first thing and everyone turned up for 10 am.  The post hole machine started without much of a problem but it couldn't dig more than a couple of inches into the ground.  The clay was hard and the auger was almost compressing it and forming a polished surface.  The digging team had a think and came up with a plan.  Between us we had not only the powered digger but also 2 chisel type posthole diggers and a hand auger.  Small holes were cut by Al using the hand auger, these were then filled with water and left to soak for a while after which the petrol auger could do its job.

While this was going on, other teams had been putting up the fencing on the posts that were OK on the other 2 sides of the field. By lunchtime nearly all of the posts had been re-set and we adjourned to the barn for lunch.

Suitably invigorated the teams set to and worked through to about 6pm putting up more fencing while I shuttled to and from the local farming supplies shop buying what ever we had run out of.

I was truly grateful for all the work they had put in and then they amazed me further.  All those that were available volunteered to return the next day to finish the rest of the fencing.

It’s at times like these when I realise just how lucky I am to have so many special people in my life.

All that remains now is to fit the gates and one extra strand of wire and/or some tape to discourage the alpacas from thinking of jumping over and to make the fence line visible which is a really easy job and to construct the field shelters, which is a bit longer.

DSCF0289 tinyAl and I spent most of last week buying the wood for the shelters.  Wood is heavy and even with my bigger trailer it’s taken a couple of trips to collect all that I need to make the two kits.

Collecting the bits is further complicated by trying to source everything which can be a bit of a nightmare.  When getting the extra bits for the fencing I bought out the local farming supplies place of the items I wanted.  They only held 2 rolls of sheep fencing, 2 rolls of the gauge of fencing wire I needed, 2 of the collars I use to secure the gates…  A big project need planning and a sustained effort to get everything.  Then add to that, finding it at a sensible price and your work is cut out.

I had been buying the metaposts over the year,  -whenever I got a 10% reduction voucher, - and had 14.  I need 18 so at the brico store where I was buying the first batch of wood I went to pick up 4 more posts.  The shop assistant I had just been talking to basically told me to put them back and then pointed to the price.  They were just under 25€ each.  He told me to go to the garden department next door where I paid 3€50 each for them!

All the wood needs to be painted with wood preserver – the picture shows some of the cross beams and some of the roofing planks.  I still need to cut the uprights to size and paint them and then we can head to the fields and attempt to get the metaposts in.  As if to help it’s finally rained which has stopped the painting but will hopefully soften the ground a bit.

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