More Greenhouse Progress – Dead Sheep Only Sleeping!

As I said in my last post, the greenhouse build is bit two steps forward, one step back. I also mentioned that I needed to move the coldframes and fix the greenhouse to the base.

Greenhouse & Coldframes

Greenhouse & Coldframes – Note the bag of sand holding down the free side.

Well overnight we had some wind and although it appeared OK, the greenhouse had moved a bit and the wind had shaken some of the pieces apart. Now the one thing I have learned here is to respect the wind and not put off fixing things down that need it.

So despite it being really cold with a biting wind, I got on with re-connecting various struts and bars, tightening up nuts an bolts etc. before fixing the corner plates. Once again the greenhouse felt stable.

Then the coldframes, which are also screwed down onto the base, were unscrewed, moved and new holes drilled into the base to enable them to be re-screwed down. One tool I invested in a few years back was an SDS drill. They are brilliant for drilling into brick, concrete and rock etc.

SDS Drill

My old electric hammer drill would go into concrete or brick but granite defeated it. Our house and some outbuildings are stone built. The SDS is the only drill that will go into the stone. It goes through the concrete slabs like a hot knife through butter.

After a break for a hot soup, far more warming than tea, I positioned the greenhouse on the base with enough space on either side to easily stand when fitting the glass. Just one side is bolted down for now, which is enough to hold it firmly. The wind pressure on the frame is minor compared to when it is glazed.

Before I fix the other corners I need to ensure it is absolutely square and level. Otherwise the glass won’t sit properly and it will not have structural integrity. To check it’s square is easy enough with two people. You just measure the diagonals which need to be equal. Vertical is easy to do on your own with a spirit level.

Dead Sheep?

Texel Ewes & Lambs

Texel Ewes & Lambs

The chap across the road keeps his sheep on our back field. They’re Texels and they’ve lambed recently. Now I find it hard to describe Texels as an attractive breed, I think they look like a sheep crossed with a bulldog. They’re big sheep that always look as if they’re pregnant.

All they seem to do is slowly lumber around eating the grass and making weird grunting noises. On the other hand, they don’t jump over the fence to demolish a veg patch. That makes them the best breed in my book.

Texel Cross Ewe Triplets

Texel Cross Ewe with Triplets

Well, after fixing the greenhouse I looked up the field and one was just lying there on her side without moving. I thought she was dead and was thinking about what would happen to her lambs – even Texel lambs are very cute.

So I called the farmer who came across and went to her. He took one of her back legs and rolled her over whereupon she jumped up and ran off!!

Basically she’d gone to sleep, rolled over and couldn’t get back up. So she was just lying there waiting to die. I reckon sheep are the most morose, suicidal creatures in creation after lemmings! Flipping her over onto her other side, which was downhill, made it easy for her to manoeuvre her big belly. You learn something every day.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
6 comments on “More Greenhouse Progress – Dead Sheep Only Sleeping!
  1. Christine Featherstone says:

    It’s a well known fact in the animal kingdom that a sheep’s ambition is to be the first one dead in the morning! Glad the ewe was ok!
    Re Greenhouses, could I please ask whether you have any ideas how to prevent securely fixed glass panes from being ‘sucked out’ by the wind, as I believe that is what keeps happening to ours! We live on the slopes of a Welsh mountain and the wind whistles through on many an occasion. During 3 major storms this winter, despite being situated in a relatively sheltered spot, one side of our greenhouse has repeatedly lost many panes of a glass that we have to continually replace. The glass is never blown into the greenhouse but is flung far and wide, on the leeward side from the wind. We’ve renewed and replaced the clips and are wondering whether we could tape the panels together somehow,… but then that might cause the whole side to disappear at once. Dilemma! Suggestions on how to resolve the situation will be very welcome and much appreciated! Thanks!

    • John Harrison says:

      I sympathise, Christine. We’re using toughened glass which is heavier than 2×2 horticultural glass but even those panes will fly when they come out.
      The problem in a storm is that the whole frame moves and distorts, nuts weirdly unscrew and so the gap around some glass increases.
      So, make sure everything is in the right place, verticals are vertical etc. with a spirit level. Tighten all the nuts. Then strengthen the frame. If you can find a dead greenhouse, use the bits to make additional struts both angled and vertical.
      You can use half-nuts to slide into the existing channels without pulling it all apart. They rotate and grab when tightened.
      The more you reinforce the frame, the better.
      Make sure the rubber stripping that the glass sits on is still there – it’s easy enough to buy more if needed.
      You can get bar-capping for some models but I’m not convinced they’re that much better than W spring clips. Buy a bag or ten of those and add extra clips. As many as you can.
      Since re-glazing with toughened glass is a very expensive job if you’re using horticultural glass and all the above doesn’t work, then I’m afraid it’s replace the greenhouse.
      People speak well of Rhino but they’re pretty expensive. An alternative would be to replace with a polytunnel. A proper one – not an ebay cheap job. The first tunnels range are excellent. Proper polytunnels are a lot tougher in a storm.
      For some things a greenhouse is better but not a lot – and if you’re spending a load on repairs every year definitely not worth it.

      • Christine Featherstone says:

        Thanks. Will check and reinforce everything again! We do have a tiny First Tunnels Polytunnel, next to the green house, and it has been great, no matter how dreadful the weather! The greenhouse was here when we arrived so may be quite old now, and as you suggest, may perhaps be twisted after years of withstanding gales up here in the mountains!

  2. Rowland Wells says:

    We look out of our lounge window to see a flock of Texel sheep grazing with their lambs running and jumping about. They seem to know when my farmer friend David is coming to feed them as the stand by the gate bleating.

    When a sheep gets on its back and can’t get up, we call it sheep cast. Round here most of the lambs have been born around two months now and growing very quickly.

    Lucky we haven’t got the winds you talking about and I use old glass that I’ve saved and cut my own. Its not the best of jobs I have to say but what I did was I left the UV net I put on in the summer on the greenhouse all winter and it seems to have held things in place. Haven’t had a broken pain of glass so far, fingers crossed!

    • John Harrison says:

      Strange creatures, sheep. They come trotting up when I go in the field but don’t get too close. When the farmer walks in they run right up to him. So they obviously recognise people.

      Lambing has just finished here (apart from a few who didn’t catch first couple of times) – as I said to the farmer, at least I’m not out in my shed at 3 in the morning (unless I’ve really upset Val!!)

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