It’s been a bit of a “good news – bad news” time over last few days here. Or two steps forward, one back if you prefer. The first bit of good news is that we’ve finally got the veg plot field fenced off from the sheep.
Fencing The Field
Fencing is a job I could have tried to do myself but I don’t think I could have done as good a job of it or as economically. The chap who did the job has the right tools, for a start, and he knows how to use them. His hammer was like something you’d expect to be wielded by the Mighty Thor! A sledgehammer but the head was a large, silvery cotton-reel shape. Then he’d various bits like a ratchet strainer so the wire would be taught.
I thought he might have a post hole auger but no, just a long iron bar to lever a starter hole before banging in the posts. The difference between experience and book-learning I suppose! Anyway, it took him less time to do the job than it would have taken me to get the materials. And it’s going to last.
Rain and Rain
The bad news, now we’ve got the sheep out of the way and can finally get started, it decides to rain.. and rain.. and rain. Meanwhile, the south east of England remains much warmer and dry. Of course, there ‘dry’ is the problem. I’ve always felt that the exhortations to save water we get were more a devious way for the utility companies to save money than any real supply issue. I think I might feel differently if I lived in the south east though.
Of course I’ve not ever been in favour of wasting water (I’m too mean for that!) but spending out on new toilets to save a few litres per flush has never struck me as good use of cash. Perhaps it’s time some wiser heads than me got together and tried to come up with a plan to keep those in the dry areas wet without demanding we spend a packet to save water as the rain pours down in the wet west.
Fitting out the Shed
Building Works Again!
Another good news, bad news story is our outside loo and tap. It was pretty grotty to say the least. A low roof of corrugated asbestos board and pitch black when the rotten wooden door was shut. Anyway, builders finally arrived to sort it out, which is the good news. The toilet is attached to the gable end of the house which is rendered. (For my N American friends, I think you call it stucco finish). It turns out that the render hasn’t been done properly and is coming away from the wall. Water has got in between, been trapped and is coming through to the house.
So I’m writing to the sound of electric chisel drills removing the bits of concrete left on as they prepare the wall for the new render. Apparently it’s not just plastered on in one coat but put on in a number of thin coats. What is a surprise is that the stonework underneath hasn’t been done as well as the cowshed was. Perhaps this, the oldest section of the house, was done first or perhaps the builders felt the cattle were more important than the humans!
House Martin Update
You may recall I was a bit upset at inadvertently flying into the cow shed and attempting to leave through the window. Well there was a couple of these beautiful little birds who had started building a nest in there. They were happily perching on an electric cable in between bringing bits of mud for their nest. Our cats were watching with great interest and trying to work out a way to get up to them.
Anyway, the door curtain went up and the somewhat annoyed birds have moved on. I think they may have been alright but we couldn’t stand and watch them raise a brood only for the cats to get them. The cats are back on rodent duty now.
Nothing like the fencing you have been doing John but after planting cabbages, sprouts, broccoli (is that how you spell it), my trusty allotment veterans said, now net them… else the pigeons will eat them. It’s true our plots are adorned with cages, and contraptions to keep out unwanted guests, even humans.
So last week it was a trip to my friendly builders yard to buy orange barrier mesh, pig tails (spikes) and a visit to Amazon for an amazing deal on green mesh netting.
What I have realised about this allotment obsession is, it’s a mission. It requires wisdom from on high, unflinching zeal to beat the bugs below and the pests above. Not only do you need to prepare the soil, feed it and weed it (constantly) but you need to be an engineer skilled at building barriers from recycled junk whilst being watched and filmed by the bird world who seem to enjoy scrutinizing your labours ready to fly in when you’ve gone home shattered.
Then there’s the foxes… who seem to like beans. Any ideas?
John, I really miss the old format that was a photo of each thing you were discussing. Please, more pictures of the farm and your work on it. I’m interested to see what you are going to do to block the wind on the veggie patch. Did Santa Clause bring you a green house like he promised? If so, where did you set it up?
Mike – never heard of foxes going for beans before, badgers and sweetcorn seems to be common.
Mary – Will try to take more photographs!! Held back on the greenhouse as we’ve had a lot of expense we didn’t expect.
John – yes, don’t know the variety but they nosed around them and nibbled the roots. I asked the plot holder and he said, ‘it might have been the fertiliser they were smelling before the nibbled through about a dozen.
We have been warned about putting chicken pellets down as well as the foxes think they are in for a treat.
I agree… can we have some more pics John.
The sledge hammer like a cotton reel is a maul.
Living in the South East, I wish we did get more rain and I am sympathetic to your situation. (We finally got a good soaking rain yesterday—first one this year according to my weather journal.) But one thing to consider when the water companies exhort us not to waste (which I know you are careful not to do with or without exhortation) is that water is quite expensive to treat, deliver and then take away once used. Every five years the water companies across GB are benchmarked against one another, and the one that is most efficient DOES get rewarded (as you suspect) … but then that level of performance also sets the bar for the other companies to meet. The Consumer Council for Water estimates that our bills are £100 cheaper (per annum) than they would have been if the companies hadn’t been privatised. And in the meantime they have invested (across GB) £80B in system upgrades and in keeping water clean (which is ever more difficult to do in a throwaway society like ours). I don’t work for a water company or the regulator (and I am definitely no fan of Thames Water) but I do think privatisation was ultimately a good thing (with its bad points, like everything has) and I thought you might be interested in the further information.