New orchard

The new orchard is now completely re-planted. 14 new trees have replaced the old ones. We left one tree from the original orchard plus one new tree that we planted two years ago.

The new trees are all planted at least 5m apart providing plenty of space for them to grow as well as enabling us to be able to mow around them easily. It took a little while to work out the planting plan mainly taking into account the two existing trees!

We have planted the following:

  • Apple Ribston Pippin Whip (M25)
  • Apple Spartan Whip (M25)
  • Apple Yorkshire Aromatic Whip (M25)
  • Cherry Morello Whip (Avium F-12/1)
  • Cherry Stella Whip (Avium F-12/1)
  • Pear Conference Whip (seedling pear)
  • Pear Doyenne du Comice Whip (seedling pear)
  • Plum Victoria (Myrobalan B)
  • Apple Ashmeads Kernel Feathered (M25)
  • Apple Blenheim Orange Whip (M25)
  • Apple Newton Wonder Feathered (M25)
  • Apple Michaelmas Red Feathered (M25)
  • Damson Merryweather Whip (Myrobalan B)
  • Plum Anna Spath Whip (Myrobalan B)

These are in addition to two existing trees:

  • Quince tree planted 2 years ago
  • Plum Victoria – the only tree left from the original orchard.

All f the new new trees came from RV Roger’s nursery based in Pickering, North Yorkshire.

Stump grinder
There were 5 tree stumps left that we simply couldn’t dig out without demolishing the dry stone wall at the same time. There was no alternative, but to grind the stumps out.

Roadside conifers

There is a row of conifers alongside the road outside the property – they have been there ever since we moved in. Recently, these roadside conifers have become more and more of a problem as they take a lot of water out of the ground (impacting the vegetable plot) and produce a lot of shade (again impacting the vegetable plot). On the upside, they do provide a good wind break!

When you look at the before and after photos below, you begin to realise just how much they have grown in the last 8 years. Our local tree surgeon reckons that they will only last another 10-15 years at most. In fact, we have already lost some of them in the last couple of years.

Rather than leave them to the bitter end, we have decided it is high time that the roadside conifers are taken down. We are going to replace them with natural hedging that is more in keeping with this area. However, it does mean fell them and then digging out the roots! Hopefully, we will be able to digging out the roots without knocking down the dry stone wall at the front of the property!

The good news is that it will provide space for (yet) another row of fruit trees in the orchard.

Roadside Conifers in 2013
The conifers along the roadside in December 2013. This was the day Northern Power Grid installed our three phase electricity supply.
Roadside Conifers in 2021
This is taken almost 8 years to the day later than the previous picture. It is difficult to believe how much they have grown in that time.
It looks pretty bare now with them gone, but once a natural hedge takes it’s place it won’t look so bad.

Mowing incident

It has got to that time of the year where the mower is used on a weekly basis.  We leave the cuttings to rot down (with just over 2 acres of grass to cut, we don’t really have a choice), so the grass needs to be cut regularly to ensure that the clippings don’t get out of hand.  It is amazing what a difference a bit of sun and rain has on the grass!

Yesterday we had a minor incident as an old climbing rope (used for attaching our dog to a tree!) was left in the grass.  It didn’t take long for it to wrap itself around the blades of the mower deck and bring proceedings to a swift halt.  Fortunately, the dog wasn’t still attached to it!

It didn’t take too long to sort out this morning, but it meant taking the mower deck off the Z425 to cut the old rope away.  While I was at it, I thought I just as well give the underside of the deck a good clean as well as lubricating the spindles.  The problem with grass cuttings is that they are very alkaline and attack the paint and metal of the mower deck.  Although the underside gets a new coat of yellow Hammerite every year, it doesn’t do any harm to give it a bit of a clean every now and then.

This is what happens when someone leaves an old climbing rope in the grass.  The mower definitely wasn't happy!

This is what happens when someone leaves an old climbing rope in the grass. The mower definitely wasn’t happy!

Fortunately, there was no real damage done and it only took a few minutes to cut away the old rope.  It actually took longer to get the mowing deck off the mower!  I took the opportunity to clean out the grass and hose down the underside of the mower deck.

Fortunately, there was no real damage done and it only took a few minutes to cut away the old rope. It actually took longer to get the mowing deck off the mower! I took the opportunity to clean out the grass and hose down the underside of the mower deck.

I have never had to remove the belt completely from the mower deck.  I thought it might be a good idea to take a quick photo of the belt just in case it ever snaps and needs to be replaced.

I have never had to remove the belt completely from the mower deck. I thought it might be a good idea to take a quick photo of the belt just in case it ever snaps and needs to be replaced.

Wasp nest in the vegetable patch

Last year, we had a couple of wasp nests – one in the orchard and another in the bottom field.  We were lucky.  A very nice badger came along and dug both of them up and then ate the lavae.  This year we have a wasp nest in the vegetable patch.  Given that the have a couple of months to go before they reach the end of the season, we decided that we had to get rid of it.  Otherwise, someone (me, Jo or the dog) are going to get stung.  Jo got stung last year and she isn’t that keen to be stung again.

Given that it is a vegetable patch we weren’t that keen on using pesticides here, however, we are assured that the chemicals breakdown as soon as they are exposed to sunlight.  Even so, I don’t think that we will be planting anything at this end of the vegetable patch this year.

Jo's idea was to whack the wasp's nest with a mattock and then run as fast as you can!  I think the only thing that this approach would guarantee would be some pissed off wasps.  Alternatively, you can get someone suitably attired to spray them with chemicals.  I'll vote for the man with the can!

Jo’s idea was to whack the wasp’s nest with a mattock and then run as fast as you can! I think the only thing that this approach would guarantee would be some pissed off wasps. Alternatively, you can get someone suitably attired to spray them with chemicals. I’ll vote for the man with the can!

Not quite sure what is going on here, but it looks like the insecticide might being having an effect!

Not quite sure what is going on here, but it looks like the insecticide might being having an effect!

Pointing the patio

The flagstones went down on the new patio before Christmas, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t good enough to be able to point them at that time – it was either too cold or too wet. Well, the weather has started to turn (I did say “started”!) and we started pointing the flagstones this week.  We are using the same lime based pointing that we used on the house so that it all matches.  Even at this time of the year, there is a risk of rain or frost getting to the pointing before it cures.  The pointing is protected overnight with a large sheet of hessian.  So far this has worked well for us.

It has take a week or so to complete the pointing on the lower (and larger) of the two terraces.  I reckon that the pointing will be complete on the upper terrace too by the end of next week.  You wouldn’t think that it would make much of a difference, but it really has pulled the whole area together.

The lime pointing is being mixed to the same proportions as we used on the house:

1: 1: 5       1 portion  3.5 N /sqmm Hydraulic lime : 1 portion white cement : 5 portions Nosterfield River sand

The materials have all been acquired from Womersleys that specialise in materials for restoration projects.

Now the weather has improved we have started pointing the patio.  We are using the same lime based pointing that we used on the house.  The fresh pointing is protected from the rain and the frost overnight with a large sheet of hessian.

Now the weather has improved we have started pointing the patio. We are using the same lime based pointing that we used on the house. The fresh pointing is protected from the rain and the frost overnight with a large sheet of hessian.

It has taken the best part of a week, but now the lower terrace of the patio is pointed.  It makes a tremendous difference to the appearance of this space.

It has taken the best part of a week, but now the lower terrace of the patio is pointed. It makes a tremendous difference to the appearance of this space.

 

Winter 2014

We have just had the first dump of snow this winter and the views are amazing.  It is the time of year that you are glad of 4×4’s.

We had a fair amount of snow last night and this is what we woke up to this morning!  The views across the valley are amazing, now the sun is out.

We had a fair amount of snow last night and this is what we woke up to this morning! The views across the valley are amazing, now the sun is out.

Zep running in the snow

View from our house

View across the valley with Holme Moss in the background.

View across the valley with Holme Moss in the background.

back of the house SAM_1224 Front of the house in the winter snow SAM_1225

Before and after in the sunken garden

These photos are courtesy of Paddy Martin who did the work in the garden.  These before and after shots just show how much work has gone into sorting out the sunken garden.

Courtesy of Paddy Martin

Here is the before and after for the sunken garden. All in all, it took about 8 weeks to sort this out.

Courtesy of Paddy Martin

Another before and after shot. You can also see the impact that the telehandler has had on the grass in the background.

Courtesy of Paddy Martin

After we moved in, we had an old pallet for a door step. It is great to see that it has been sorted out. It still needs to be pointed, but it is a vast improvement.

Progress in the sunken garden

At last all of the ashlar is in place and all of the flagstones are down.  There is still pointing to do, but that is going to have to wait a bit until the weather improves – it can’t be too wet or too cold when doing the pointing.

Three sets of steps and 160 square meters of flagstones.  The pointing is still to be done between the flagstones, but we are going to have to wait for some better weather.  The lights are still to be installed (although the holes and wiring have been put in place).

Three sets of steps and 160 square meters of flagstones. The pointing is still to be done between the flagstones, but we are going to have to wait for some better weather. The lights are still to be installed (although the holes and wiring have been put in place).

We still have to point the flagstones.  This will be done using lime pointing (just like the main house), however, this is going to have to wait for better weather.

We still have to point the flagstones. This will be done using lime pointing (just like the main house), however, this is going to have to wait for better weather.

The ashlar slabs have been installed outside the master bedroom.  We haven't moved in here yet, but in the summer it will be possible to step out into the sunken garden from the bedroom.  The floor inside is the same level as the ashlar slabs outside.

The ashlar slabs have been installed outside the master bedroom. We haven’t moved in here yet, but in the summer it will be possible to step out into the sunken garden from the bedroom. The floor inside is the same level as the ashlar slabs outside.

The new steps from the lounge and a step of steps to the upper terrace.

The new steps from the lounge and a step of steps to the upper terrace.

It would have been easy just to have put 1200mm wide steps in here, but it looks so much better with the bottom steps extended outwards.  The reclaimed walls could do with being pressure washed to remove some of the old paint and dirt but they contrast with the new stone steps.

It would have been easy just to have put 1200mm wide steps in here, but it looks so much better with the bottom steps extended outwards. The reclaimed walls could do with being pressure washed to remove some of the old paint and dirt but they contrast with the new stone steps.

The final stone steps are in!

There was major relief today when the final set of stone steps were installed in the garden.  Installing these steps has been a monumental effort on behalf of Paddy and Jonny.  Most of the stones are well over safe working loads for two men, so that have had to use the ingenuity to get these in without any major incidents.

Once the step is roughly in position (but still resting on the slabs of insulation), the stone step is lifted up (the sides are protected by some thin blue foam) and the insulation removed (very quickly).  If it all works out properly, the stone step ends up in the right spot!

Once the step is roughly in position (but still resting on the slabs of insulation), the stone step is lifted up (the sides are protected by some thin blue foam) and the insulation removed (very quickly). If it all works out properly, the stone step ends up in the right spot!

Pulling out the installation.  It looks a bit like a sequence from a game show, but you need to be quick to make sure your fingers aren't underneath the stone step when it is lowered!

Pulling out the installation. It looks a bit like a sequence from a game show, but you need to be quick to make sure your fingers aren’t underneath the stone step when it is lowered!

Once the step is in position, the blue foam is pulled out.  This protects the sides of the step as it is lowered into position.  The flagstones will cover the bottom half of the first step which is why it is a taller than the other steps - half of it will be buried.

Once the step is in position, the blue foam is pulled out. This protects the sides of the step as it is lowered into position. The flagstones will cover the bottom half of the first step which is why it is a taller than the other steps – half of it will be buried.