Monday, 8 November 2010

Still in one piece

I'm trying to get the blog caught "up to date" so heres a quick rundown of some of the minor other jobs that have been done in the last 6 weeks or so. I've concentrated here on the ones that had the capacity to cause injury though there have been other ones as well.

My initial plan of attack - (and full frontal assault is sometimes what it needed !) was to focus on making the place safe for the kids, then keeping it warm and dry, then tidied up so April and I can enjoy it and eventually a Big Plan can be developed. Its sort of a practical application of  Maslows hierarchy of needs.

In the build up to our housewarming party I picked up an enormous amount of glass shards, literally thousands, scattered absolutely everywhere. There was also a plentiful supply of extremely dodgy electrics (some still live and at 450 Volts), old lightbulbs, rat poison, a few loose sheep syringes, a couple of hidden pitchforks, rusty propane gas cylinders and LOTS of broken asbestos cement .

This picture viewed from the glasshouse probably has most of the hazards demonstrated somewhere!

This has all been mixed with the most incredible amount of plastic rubbish - much of it mixed with well composted chicken shit, sheep shit and probably rat shit. Or just "MORE SHIT !" as I like to shout intemperately now and again.

The first pile took three days to shift, including stuffing thousands of old plastic bread bags into old plastic fertilizer bags that were buried alongside them! Almost exactly the right amount as well bizarrely. Now why didn't the bags go in the other bags 20 years ago ? I'll never know !

But this was all easy work really. The electrics were pretty scary by comparison,  I had to modify the main breaker and fuse board substantially including working on the 3 phase 450volts whilst live at one point- lucky I had my new 1000V insulated screwdriver and rubber pants on ! Once I'd disconnected that the other electric jobs were safer.... well sort of safer. Good thing I still have a head for heights

Nothing to a man with nerves of steel....

But by far the scariest thing that needed doing was insulating the roof of the house. Now thats not scary you say, however this one had two big wasp nests right at the back in a position that prevented me spraying them. I have vague recollections of my brother getting very badly stung by wasps so I was a bit concerned to say the least .I'd watched the wasps flying in and out for a few days so knew that one was still very active.
I decided to face my fears and surprise them early in the morning while it was still cold. The plan was to get all dressed up and hack out the nest with a handsaw, bag it and then spray insecticide into the bag which was then sealed.

OK, here I go...

It turned out to be a complete anti-climax, I didnt even see a wasp ! Not one ! Thats often the way with things you're afraid of. Once you confront them it turns out not so bad as feared !

The next day I emptied the bag out out and was tempted to keep the nest since it looked so beautiful...

Luckily I decided to set fire to it to be safe - turned out it still had a good few dozen groggy wasps still in it !

Another job I'd put off was the emptying the large chest freezer in the barn. Nothing wrong with that surely ! Well this one was probably more dangerous than the rubbish, electrics and wasps combined. It had defrosted about ten years ago apparently- half full of pig or venison  "or something". It had got so bad that no-one in the previous family dared open it - and it now smelled so bad since it was starting to rot its way out of the freezer. A major biological health hazard !

First of all I moved it away from the house with tractor and drained it on its side- thinking that would be OK after a month or so outside with the flies and maggots. The stench was unbelievable - enough to cause immediate vomiting at a dozen paces !

When I went back a month later the smell was just as bad . I got a respirator on and went for a proper look...

I can confirm now that if anyone out there is planning on disposing of any bodies, that hiding them in a freezer will not reduce them to a smell free pile of compost. Especially if they are wrapped in ....plastic bags. They would look a bit like this...

 And the smell Oh My God!!! I have never smelt anything as bad as that. NOT  EVER !

I buried it all in a shallow grave nearby after hand picking the leaking bags out of the "soup".

The smell from the freezer was so bad even after a few more weeks of rain that I eventually filled it with sawdust and  5 litres of petrol and torched it completely. And it still smelled awful! Incredible !

Apart from that I've done a lot of strimming to uncover more dumped rubbish , insulated the roof with 340mm deep of extra insulation, removed the inner big barn hanging ceiling (with my brother Sam) and got the tractor steering stripped down so it doesnt kill me when I next drive it. April, has had her hands full with the kids mainly, but has managed to clear out a load of weeds from the glasshouse (and, of course, loads of glass!).

Ironically the only near serious injury so far has been to Lundy (aged 18 months) who managed to stick three of her fingers into the kitchen door (hinge side) just as I was slowly closing it while fixing it the other side. I think I'd rather have had my own hand in there than see that again. Luckily for her they all still work. I havent felt that awful since I saw Willow trap her hand in the paper shredder (at about the same age as well)

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger"

 I wonder if Fredrich Nietzsche ever cleared up a farm, his quote certainly summed these last few weeks up accurately!

Lets hope it stays that way !


  1. I forgot to add that I also nearly fell through one of the skylights on the barn I was demolishing. It was well hidden with leaves and as I felt it go I dived sideways narrowly escaping a fall of about 15 feet straight through. I'd had a headache all day worrying about the roof collapsing as I demolished it and this happened right hear the end of day. Lucky !

  2. Was the farm thing just an excuse to dress up in lots of Kinky gear?

  3. So we can safely say the chest freezer smelled bad then?

  4. ERG! There is nothing worse than cleaning up other peoples messes, it's bad enough tidying up after myself. I have struggled for a while now, trying to find a happy compromise between perfect organisation and live-ability...where the latter is the necessity to leave things "on the go" and not spend the entire period of time dedicated to a task getting it out and putting it away again.

    I have taken a leaf out of your book and started a blog for a little joint project I have going.