I LOVE power tool gardening!!!!!

Sunday and Monday of the May Bank Holiday James and I spent the time using our wonderful gifts from both sets of our parents!!! POWER TOOLS!!!!!!!! And what a difference they have made!!!! We started with this….. Where we left off at Easter…..

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Then we used the hedge cutters and the strimmer and the chain saw and a lot of elbow grease and ….. Well I’ll let the pictures tell the tale!!

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We are now ready for phase two digging and rock rolling!!! To further clear the mess of the slurry pit so it can be our sunken vegetable garden!!!

I did go a bit crazy with the strimmer in the end and carried on in the field behind the hovel and down the path to orchard field!!!

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The little tin hut!

Lots of people have been asking to see what the hovel or the little tin hut looks like in more detail!! The previous owner lived here for about 10 years?!?! And this is where we are camping out while we finish the build she started and whilst we spend the weekends working the land!!

After returning to the farm and cleaning off the cow poo from the dogs, we decided to spend the few hours of pre dinner time getting the hovel somewhat habitable again. The previous owner had taken most of the pieces of furniture we had the “luxury” of using over the Easter weekend, as they had now completed on their property buy.

This left the hovel empty save for the old Rayburn, the bed, the sofa and a table and a couple of wobbly chairs!!

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I brought some old throws to a. Protect the sofa from the muddy toes and b. Cover up its particularly beautiful shade of bogey green!!

We had brought a small chiller fridge thing, and 2 ring electric hob….

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and then found a few bits in the barn for cleaning up and adding to our furnishing array!!! Like a dog bed and a bit of new work top and an old shelving unit from a kitchen install!!

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A few points to note…. Yes the toilet is that close to the bed!!! Actually now further away than when she moved out!!!

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The shower has corrugated plastic for walls… One of which has brambles growing against it and that’s all really to preserve the modesty of the showerer!!!

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Also a slug and a worm joined me in there on Sunday morning!!!

The insulation is either sheep wool or newspapers bits stuffed in crevices or large chunks of polystyrene….

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And all the windows are corrugated plastic….

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And despite all this I am definitely starting to love our little hovel!!!! Our shelter from the elements and our little home whilst we work the land and finish the barn conversion!!

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Return to the farm!

We managed to get back down to the barn on the Saturday of the May bank holiday, in the afternoon after I had finished at Roath craft market.

We took a short wander to check on the status of the barns. Both are now free of cows, but have yet to be cleaned out!! And then we wandered to the yard. The yard is mostly empty and hard based, bar the ever expanding pile of cow poo in the one end……

At this point both dogs decided they could run over the slurry pile that is in the yard awaiting spreading over the field!! The crust looked solid…….

It soooooooo was not!!! It collapsed under them, sending them butt deep in cow poo!! Ugh!!!! Silly dogs!!!

We ended up dunking them both in a water trough to clean them.

Polly stuck her feet out at every possible angle and then tried swimming in the trough.

Sookie the daft nut sunk like a small stone!!

Meanwhile back at home!

My wonderful friend went to the RHS show in Cardiff recently and she bought me some basketry willow to start to grow for the farm!!! As the banks of the streams we want to plant it down are not at all ready for the willow I have planted them in pots in the garden here at home!!

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I have also got some trees growing in pots in the garden ready to be moved down in the Autumn to repopulate hedgerow gaps. I have a elder, a blackthorn, a crabapple and a cherry.

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No rest for the wicked here!! James’ parents and my mother came back down to us on the Wonderwool weekend!! Mum came for Wonderwool and Dad filled the car with tools for us!! Hedge trimmer, etc etc and James’ parents brought a chainsaw, and some furnishings for the hovel among other things not sure how much we can fit into the car with ourselves and dogs for the May Bank holiday weekend!! But hey we have POWER tools for the clearing of brambles and trees!!!! Yay!!!

Day 4 and 5 in the Little Tin Hut!

The next two days I was alone at the smallholding with just Sookie for company. Sookie used this as an excuse to wedge herself into my armpit every time I sat down or to go absolutely bat shit crazy every time anyone approached the farm or if there was a noise!!!

We came to terms with our empty calf less barn!!

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Though I had to stop Sookie on a couple of occasions from trying to get in there and stop her from eating cow poo!!

We had three window companies out for quotes, a plumbing/electrician firm and I met the guy who is tackling the knotweed down in the woodland off the road!! I also rang a few other companies for quotes on damp proofing, bore holes, septic tanks etc etc etc!!!

Busy times

I also tried to contact the Rural Payments Wales people to register etc etc so we can start trying to get into the Glastir Programme and start off getting some payments in to help us manage the land…. But I realised quickly into the call that I had left the holding number back with the other paperwork at home!!! Doh!!!! So that’s a job for another day, probably May half term!!!

The only significant amusement during my time alone, other than quotes, was the arrival of new bedding for the remaining barn load of calves!! Our tenant fired up his bob cat in the barn and the whole tin hut shook wildly!!! I was just it ting down for dinner and managed to hurl a tomato in my surprise across the tin hut!!! Te he!!!

I did also manage to get out amidst the drizzle and continue clearing along the back slurry pit banking. I cut the Rowan branches that over hung the pit and hacked back about three metres of brambles using gloves secateurs
and a pitch fork!! And I have started a new bonfire pile!! When James and he parentals left, I was under strict instructions not to relight the fire or go into the woodland alone.

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I also managed to start clearing some brambles by the stream pipe in the rough pasture!! So a productive few days even though I was alone with the pup!!

Day 3 in the Little Tin Hut!

Easter Monday was spent doing a few small jobs due to the aching parentals from the exertions of the day before!! Doing things like fixing hinges, which then meant that front door of the tin hut didn’t close properly, which I only realised once everyone had abandoned me and it was dark!!! Thus meaning that I ended up wedging the door closed with a large chunk of wood for my first night alone!!

The biggest things that happened on Monday were…..

1. One barns worth of calf tenants have been moved out!!! Ahhh the quiet!!!!!

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2. Mum and Dad went home…… And drove James home too, with Polly dog! leaving Sookie and I at the little tin hut by ourselves!!!!

All bets were on that I’d be sleeping, come the morning, locked in the car with the puppy!!!

Ha!!!! I didn’t!!! I managed two whole nights on my own in the little tin hut and because of the manual clearing work and the quote getting process I was shattered each night and could have probably slept on a chicken’s lip!!!

The Slurry Pit

Yes… The old cattle farm’s slurry pit!!!

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This is behind the three barns with gaping gaps in the wall where all the muck and rubbish would have been swept out of the barns when the farm was last a fully functioning cattle farm (by local reports about 30 years ago)

We have decided to clear it and build our vegetable garden here. It is a walled area so should provide some protection from the wind for things like a poly tunnel etc eventually!!

We didn’t know when we started whether the top end was ramped into the pit or how deep the earth at the bottom was….. Dad found the base fairly quickly and mum started the hunt for a slope/ramp up by the gate entrance. We cleared a small area at the base and decided to start building a bonfire. Dad, James and I started using a bill hook and a pruning saw to hack out some of the many small goat willows (Salix Caprea) and after a fairly short time hacking and cutting the pile was sufficient for Dad and James to want to start lighting the Bonfire!! 2 hours, Yes, TWO hours later and half a can of petrol later and we had a fully burning fire in the middle of the pit!!

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During this time I joined Mum clearing the slope into the pit. We found rocks, building sands, old slates from the roof etc all dumped in the top corner, piles of rocks, both quartz and slate and rubble towards the bottom end as well as a good slope into the pit which was fabulous news in some ways and not though in respect of the water coming off the mountain in heavy rain…. As this is the direction it’s all headed. It means we will need to build a wall along the edge of the ramp into the pit and punch a hole out of the bank in the bottom to channel the water out into the drainage stream area. Eventually the rocks Mum and I were finding filled huge wheelbarrow and I started to make cairns. We have decided to use the rocks to start building up the bank in the hedgerow space with the double gate between orchard and big field, where we intend putting a stile. Some of the flatter rocks will be used for stonewalling and increasing the height of the slurry pit walls.

James had his first go using a petrol strimmer

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We ended up with this!

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And our first more gruesome discovery, which Mum has named Yorek!!

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And a partly cleared ramp area!!

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I am quite proud of the achievements here so far!! Suddenly the slurry pit is not so insurmountable. We have a long way to go, but we have found out so much!!!