I got my practice on the mower this afternoon by going over the field that I hope to plough tomorrow ready to become my vegetable area (where the mower is). In the background is the new paddock area that looks lovely and green but in reality it is quite sparse and we could do with some rain – after I’ve finished ploughing of course.
Saturday, 16 February 2008
Friday, 15 February 2008
Instance 1. I’ve just got a document through from MSA, the agricultural assurance people whom I trying to get my health insurance through. As I said in a previous post, I can be a member but until I start cultivating my vegetables I don’t have enough land to qualify for health insurance. As it’s a new year, the new subs are due but when I looked at the document, they got my name wrong. I have a given name, two middle names and a double-barrelled surname. Somewhere along the line they have added a middle name to my surname giving me a triple-barrelled surname. I’m going to try just crossing the extra bit out and hope they change it to match my bank details, which I have to send them. If not it will be another trip to Villeneuve.
Instance 2. I’m still looking for tile for my kitchen, both for the worktop and the walls. I’m not doing to well on finding those I like at a price I’m willing to pay. I’m considering ivory for the worktops with ivory and some blue accent tiles on the wall. At present the ivory ones I like are in a shop 25 miles to the south of me, while the blue ones are in a shop 25 miles to the north of me. I now need to do a trip to both with one of the draw fronts (that I now have) to see if they go with the finish on the kitchen units. Then it’s order them, see if the both of the places can get them and find out how long I’ll have to wait for delivery from each shop. I was thinking of incorporating a border tile but I don’t like any of the border tiles in either of the two shops and I really can’t be bothered to deal with a third shop.
On a far more positive front, Regis called round tonight and had a look at the plough. As far as he can see there is nothing wrong with it. I think the problem I was having was twofold, threefold if you count the fact that I have no idea at all what I’m doing, I need to pull the release lever a bit harder to ensure it fully withdraws the locking pin and I must also raise the plough to the highest point I can to get it to flip. So I will be out sometime this weekend to try. I don’t think I’ll actually need to rotate the plough as Regis also advised me to plough down the slope only as it is much easier to do that. Once I’ve got the hang of ploughing then I can start being clever. I think the plough is already turning the furrow in the direction I need so it should be all systems go.
Thursday, 14 February 2008
Regis has had some of his mature oaks felled. The contractor only wants the trunks so all the branches remain. The deal is we clear it up and then 2/3 of the wood we prepare is for us, one third to Regis. An excellent deal I think and I get fit into the bargain.
When I got back from the prunery I decided to give the alpacas a treat. They have been living on hay for the last 3 months having eaten all the grass in their small paddock. Using some of the metal hurdles I have I made a tiny enclosure onto the grass outside their paddock. When I opened the gates they were there, in a line, heads down and munching. When I closed them back in the paddock three hours later the area was nearly bare. I think I can move the hurdles a little and include some more grass for tomorrow but after that they will be back on hay for a week to let this grass recover. I will be so glad when the new paddocks are well grown and the fencing done so they can have a large enough fields that they can’t graze them bare.
The weather was sunny and warm again and the wind of the last two days dropped so the tree planting and the kitchen were put aside as I tried to get on with reshaping the trees on the front lawn. It’s top priority as the buds are beginning to form and it will soon be to late to prune. I use prune very loosely there, decimate is probably closer as there is close to only ten percent of the trees remaining.
First tree picture is tree one before chain sawing. I’d removed most of last year’s new growth at the end of last year.
The weather is due to hold tomorrow, and for the next 4 days, so I will be continuing with the Rene Claude tree tomorrow.
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
To get the kitchen I set off for the shop with my trusty but tiny trailer. I will add now I have an Espace with all the seats taken out too. Did the warehouse people load the trailer first, did they h**k. I don’t know how but they got all but 4 pieces in the car including the 3 metre lengths (this is where having a passenger seat that can be turned 90 degrees helps). I suggested I came back and do it in two trips. “Non, non, pas de problem” was the reply. They did kindly point out before I departed that the rear wheel arch was only about a centimetre and a half above the wheel and that I should drive back slowly! (No pictures for obvious reasons). I set off for the half hour drive home, taking it steadily. I was worried that the front would be very light and I’d not have much steering but I think the Espace is built on the lines of the infamous 2CV. It’s road holding was fine but I did stick to 70 kph, about 45 mph, so corners and braking were well within the capacity of the car.
The store is just off the Villeneuve bypass and I was about half way round the bypass when I spotted one of the Municipal Police cars on the roundabout ahead. No problem, foot off the accelerator, gently up to the roundabout and it should have had plenty of time to go on its way. I took my exit but couldn’t see the police car in front of me, you guessed; there it was, in my rear view mirror. Trying to concentrate on looking forwards was quite difficult, I was expecting blue flashing lights behind me but at the next junction back to Villeneuve, the police car turned off and I breathed a rather large sigh of relief. The journey after that was uneventful if a trifle slow. Ann came over in the afternoon and helped me unload the car into the garage and I will start work on the first unit tomorrow after working in the prunery.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
On the way I called in to pick up my defunct pump. Needless to say, it wasn’t there so I will be going back next week. On then to the kitchen store and yes that unit was there and it turned out so was all but one worktop. Turns out that there was a worktop in the warehouse but that had been assigned to someone who ordered his kitchen after me so it was switched back to my order. No, I couldn’t pick the kitchen up there and then as the warehouse needed time to collect together the order so I made the appointment to pick it up at 11 tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if the worktop, and any of the other units for that matter, has been switched back to the other person’s order.
That little fruitless trip took up the whole morning. After lunch I then went over to a local village where someone was selling a ride-on mower. While I don’t need one right this minute, I will require one before the grass gets into full swing. This was too good an offer to pass up so I am now the proud owner of 3 lawnmowers of various sizes and the tractor with its topper! No picture at the moment as it’s being delivered here at the weekend. This is going to be an expensive week.
This morning was back at the prunery and this afternoon I’ve been resting my back. Four hours bent over picking up wood has left it a bit strained but nowhere as bad as before so a great improvement there. This evening I’ve spent clearing out the kitchen in anticipation of getting some units made over the next few days. I’m really pleased I got all the bare rooted trees in, the others can go in as and when I need a change as they are all in pots. That said, I’d like to get them in quite quickly.
Over the last weekend, I’ve started watching my Christmas present to me. I’ve now watched the first 2 series of ‘Allo ‘Allo.* It very definitely would not get past the PC brigade today but some of it was so funny I was laughing until tears were running down my face. I am Officer Crabtree and I do so hope my accent improves soon.
Sunday, 10 February 2008
So today I only planted 8 trees, the eight remaining bare rooted ones and pottered for the rest of the day. Due to my back being bad, I’d skipped two day cleaning out the alpaca paddock. I got most of it cleared yesterday and it only took an extra 5 to 10 mins today to get it fully clear. It was no effort as again the sun was shining and it was warm. I then cleaned the water container. The water from the well here is very hard and leaves a calcium deposit on everything. The water also has a very fine silt in it that stains the deposit red brown. I’ve found that cleaning with a vinegar solution quickly cuts through the film on the side and also disinfects the container. I then refilled it with water and a tablespoon of cider vinegar.
Getting the alpacas water sorted inspired me to do the chickens water containers too. Both had a good scrub with the vinegar solution and then were rinsed and refilled. The smaller inside one got a dose of Poultry Drink in it while the large outside drinker got some cider vinegar. It’s so much nicer playing with water in the sunshine than in the frost :-D
I took my afternoon cuppa outside to sit in the sun but I find it far to difficult to sit and do nothing so I made a start on this year’s bamboo canes. I’d cut them back in October/November from the ditch where they grow on the other side of the cereal field.
Last year it was the first thing I did at the house here. It took me ages to clean the canes as I only had a small pocketknife. This year I have the serpe. In the time it took me to prepare one last year, I did three or four this year. The blade of the serpe just slices off the dried leaf covering of the canes with ease.
I did have to take care doing this not only to protect my fingers but also Snowy who decided it was a really good idea to sit underneath the blade. She didn’t seem to mind being covered in the leaf shavings either.
As you can see there is quite a lot of debris doing this but it did produce a nice nest for Snowy.