Sheep pen in the top field

Written by stephen gale

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!

It was a bit daunting when we started this job, but at least the stones didn't have to be moved far!

It was a bit daunting when we started this job, but at least the stones didn’t have to be moved far!

We came out about 4m from the existing wall (and at the same height).  Now it is time to turn the corner!  We built this wall about 1.5m at a time - each time digging the footings by hand and then taking the stones from in front of us to build this wall.  This way we managed to build the wall "through" the mountain of stone.

We came out about 4m from the existing wall (and at the same height). Now it is time to turn the corner! We built this wall about 1.5m at a time – each time digging the footings by hand and then taking the stones from in front of us to build this wall. This way we managed to build the wall “through” the mountain of stone.

The foundations of the wall are built on top of the subsoil - we dig a trench to remove all of the turf and top soil. This means that the foundations are out of sight - this is a good place to loose some of the old bits of concrete block and old bricks.  It provides a good solid base without using up good stone.  The footings are all dug by hand.

The foundations of the wall are built on top of the subsoil – we dig a trench to remove all of the turf and top soil. This means that the foundations are out of sight – this is a good place to loose some of the old bits of concrete block and old bricks. It provides a good solid base without using up good stone. The footings are all dug by hand.

 

The buckets are full of smaller stones that are used to "pack out" the middle of the wall.  You'll be amazed at how much stone can be used up doing this and how stable the smaller stones make the whole structure.  While I get to put the bigger stones in place, Jo gets to work fill the centre of the wall behind me.

The buckets are full of smaller stones that are used to “pack out” the middle of the wall. You’ll be amazed at how much stone can be used up doing this and how stable the smaller stones make the whole structure. While I get to put the bigger stones in place, Jo gets to work fill the centre of the wall behind me.

We progressively worked our way building through the mountain of stone.  You can see where the "mountain" used to be because there was no grass under the mountain.  We are now using some orange string to provide a guide for the top of the wall.  Our aim is to build this wall to the same height as the old wall behind.

We progressively worked our way building through the mountain of stone. You can see where the “mountain” used to be because there was no grass under the mountain. We are now using some orange string to provide a guide for the top of the wall. Our aim is to build this wall to the same height as the old wall behind.

We are going to stop building the sheep pen and turn our attention to building the wall along the top edge of the field.  If we have any stone left over, we may come back here and build out the pen a little more.  But for now, we are done here.  You can just see the top of the stone pile behind the wall.

We are going to stop building the sheep pen and turn our attention to building the wall along the top edge of the field. If we have any stone left over, we may come back here and build out the pen a little more. But for now, we are done here. You can just see the top of the stone pile behind the wall.

More dry stone walling

Written by stephen gale

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?

We are still "raiding" this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

We are still “raiding” this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

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!).

Mowing incident

Written by stephen gale

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.

Just a random photo

Written by stephen gale
Just a random from around the house.  We have slowly finishing things off - installing stair lights, hanging pictures etc.  It all makes a difference.

Just a random from around the house. We have slowly finishing things off – installing stair lights, hanging pictures etc. It all makes a difference.

Blinds for the lounge

Written by admin

We decided that we needed to put some blinds up in the lounge – partly to keep the sun out on really warm days and partly to keep a bit of privacy when it is dark outside and the lights are on inside the house.

We decided to go for vertical blinds – the sort that you regularly see in offices (which was one of our slight reservations).  They were relatively inexpensive (£90 for a very large window) and when open there is no material to get in the way and trip over (unlike curtains).  We also went for a very light colour to avoid any problems with the material fading – this is a real problem in the lounge.  We worked on the basis that if they were a total disaster, it was only £90 at stake!

The blinds are made to order and were ready in less than a week.  They were really easy to install and look great once in place. We have been really impressed with these blinds and I don’t think you can really argue about the price either.  It makes a huge difference to the room – during the day, it softens bright sunlight and during the evening, it makes it feel an awful lot cosier.  Although the photos of the blinds were taken in the last couple of days, they were in fact put up last September.  So you can tell that they are wearing well.

We bought the blinds from here – http://www.vertical-blinds-direct.co.uk/ – another local Yorkshire business!

Blinds in the lounge SAM_1662

Wall in the bottom field

Written by admin

It needs some coping stones, but the wall in the bottom field is done. We have been working on it for the past couple of weeks.  We have been using the opportunity to use up some of the stone left over from the renovation and although we have used 4-5 dumpers worth of stone, there still seems to be a lot of stone still left.

We aren’t sure what we are going to with this area, but now that it has been tidied up, it is a lot more accessible. The loose stones need sorting out, but we can’t make up our minds about whether we should do this by hand or hire a machine.  The ground is still too wet to get a machine in here.

You can see where we have used new stone from our pile, but give it 12-18 months and it will looks as if this wall will have been here for years.  We are constantly amazed as we look back at other bits of wall that we have repaired about how quickly they seem to age (just like me).

Just needs a bit of clearing up and the ground needs a bit of levelling, but when we first bought the property this was completely overgrown.

Just needs a bit of clearing up and the ground needs a bit of levelling, but when we first bought the property this was completely overgrown.

Well, almost done.  Just needed some coping stones along the top.

Well, almost done. Just needed some coping stones along the top.

We are still "raiding" this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

We are still “raiding” this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

Some of the bigger pieces here are going to require a machine to lift them.

Some of the bigger pieces here are going to require a machine to lift them.

Seedlings

Written by stephen gale

Well, this is a sure sign that summer is on the way – trays of seedlings that are going to be ready to go into the polytunnel in the next few weeks.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot, mange tout, and lots of flowers (including geraniums and sunflowers).

SAM_1644 SAM_1646 SAM_1645

Re-organising the polytunnel

Written by admin

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.

This is the original layout for the polytunnel.  Unfortunately, two raised beds side by side wouldn't have left enough space for a walkway.

This is the original layout for the polytunnel. Unfortunately, two raised beds side by side wouldn’t have left enough space for a walkway.

Rather than 4 wide beds, there are now 5 narrower beds.  This leaves room in the middle for a path and means that you can reach the back of the beds without having to stand on them.  The workbench now runs across the polytunnel rather than down all of one side.

And here’s the new layout. Rather than 4 wide beds, there are now 5 narrower beds. This leaves room in the middle for a path and means that you can reach the back of the beds without having to stand on them. The workbench now runs across the polytunnel rather than down all of one side.

It’s been a while….

Written by admin

Well, it has been a while since we have posted on the blog.  It doesn’t mean that we haven’t been busy, in fact, quite the opposite.  I’ll try and post some more updates this week.

The rain has eased up for the past week or so and the fields have started to dry out a bit.  This has meant that we have been able to restart working in the bottom field repairing the last of the dry stone walls.  We had to clear a reasonable amount of undergrowth before we could get to this area.  When we first bought the property, you couldn’t get in here at all.

We had to take a 3-4 medium sized trees to get access to this area, but it looks a lot better now that the area has been cleared.  It is amazing how many logs that we seem to get from so few trees.  They’ll need to dry out over the summer before we will be able to use them on the log stoves.  The main issue now is where to store them.

We believe that this is the boundary wall between the old quarry that was in the bottom field and Hagg Wood.  According to the old maps, this quarry was no longer used from about 1899.  Most of the stone for the wall was under the piles of leafs.

We believe that this is the boundary wall between the old quarry that was in the bottom field and Hagg Wood. According to the old maps, this quarry was no longer used from about 1899. Most of the stone for the wall was under the piles of leafs.

The area to the left of the wall was a small quarry in the mid 1800's.  I suspect that much of the stone that was used to build the house came from here.  A number of the guys in the local pub remember playing in the quarry as kids.  I believe that it was filled in during the 1960's when a modern property was built next door and the quarry was used for landfill.

The area to the left of the wall was a small quarry in the mid 1800’s. I suspect that much of the stone that was used to build the house came from here. A number of the guys in the local pub remember playing in the quarry as kids. I believe that it was filled in during the 1960’s when a modern property was built next door and the quarry was used for landfill.

 

Rather than starting the wall from scratch we have taken it back down to where we could find the foundation stones.  It makes repairing the wall a lot quicker!

Rather than starting the wall from scratch we have taken it back down to where we could find the foundation stones. It makes repairing the wall a lot quicker!

The dumper holds about 3/4 ton and this was just about on it's limit (considering that the brakes aren't all that good!).  There is probably amount the same amount again to be collected.  It'll take about a year before these are dry enough to burn, but they should be ready for next Winter.

The dumper holds about 3/4 ton and this was just about on it’s limit (considering that the brakes aren’t all that good!). There is probably amount the same amount again to be collected. It’ll take about a year before these are dry enough to burn, but they should be ready for next Winter.

Digging out the nettles

Written by stephen gale

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).

We sorted out this opening a few weeks ago and this area was covered with some old roof slates until recently.  It didn't take long before the ground was reclaimed with nettles.

We sorted out this opening a few weeks ago and this area was covered with some old roof slates until recently. It didn’t take long before the ground was reclaimed with nettles.

All of this metal work came out of this very small area of ground.  It gets to a point where you want to stop digging!

All of this metal work came out of this very small area of ground. It gets to a point where you want to stop digging!