In order to use up some of the left over stone, we decided to build a “sheep pen” in the top field to house our dumper and other bits and pieces. Part of these walls have been built through the mountain of stone by building the wall a section at a time – we have been moving the stone from in front of us to build the wall. This in turn allows us to dig the footings for the next section and the process starts all over again. Laborious, but it works!
We had a real mountain of stone left over when we demolished the old barn. It was of little use when re-building the extension, but since it had been here for the last 200-300 years, we didn’t really want to get rid of it. So the big question is what do you do with around 250 tons of old stone?
Our first call was to build a “sheep pen” around the mountain of stone. This would give us somewhere to park various bits of machinery where it was out of site. In the short term, it would also be a good spot to store horse manure/compost. And who knows, eventually even some sheep!
The next step was to re-build the wall in the top field along the boundary with the lower field. There had been a wall here previously, but I suspect that it was built a little too close to the edge of the escarpment and it just end up as a pile of stones along the edge of the bottom field. This old wall can still be seen in places. The new wall is just a little back from the edge, so hopefully the same fate will not await our new wall.
I reckon by the time that we have finished this wall that most of the mountain of stone will have disappeared (or rather, been repurposed!).
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.
We put up an 8ft x 20ft polytunnel in May 2013. We put two 8ft x 4ft raised beds down one side and then racking on the other side – it was only 8ft wide so we couldn’t put raised beds on both sides. While it worked, it was the most efficient use of space and the raised beds were a little too wide to reach the back (while not standing in the raised bed itself).
We decided to make the existing raised beds slightly narrower (by cutting down the existing raised beds) and to put them on both sides of the polytunnel. While this gives us slightly less growing area, it is a better use of the overall space and it is much easier to reach the back of the beds (particularly if you have short arms!).
We (actually I mean Jo!) also seem to be a bit more organised this year in terms of sorting out what we want to grow and when it needs to be planted. Rather than deciding on what we want to grow about 2 months after it should have been sown.
One of the things you quickly realise when you digging around a property that used to be a farm is that, in the old days, they used to bury a lot of rubbish. I guess it would have been in the days before council rubbish collections. The organic stuff has rotted away, however, there is a lot of metal and glass left behind.
Jo decided to clear the nettle patch next to the new opening in the orchard. The area is around 3m x 2m. It took Jo the best part of half-day to dig this area over. The amount of metal that we came across is impressive and I suspect that there is a lot more to come (should we wish to dig any further).