Friday, 4 March 2011

Tonnes and tonnes

Almost a month since the last blog post ! The time seems to have flown by and been  entirely spent shifting very heavy stuff. Tonnes and tonnes of it.The majority of it by hand as well !

First up was all that scrap metal pile - six tonnes  of mainly mild steel. Six thousand kilos sounds heavier I think ! At least I didnt have to unload it all by hand. The scrap man said it was the best pile of sorted scrap he'd ever seen and gave me a  lightweight wad of £20's in return !

Then I reclaimed the old welding plant from alien rock that we used to build climbing wall frames with a decade ago. After lugging it,  the gas bottle  and a load of old scrap into the shed  Dad set to work. A few days later the worlds most robust linkbox appeared ! It was rapidly loaded up with about 80 concrete slabs , that I'd chopped up into thirds. Thats a third of a slab on top below ! Only 239 others to pick up. Aaaargh !

All the concrete we are recovering goes out of the walled yard to the top of the hill for future crushing into hardcore for the track. Unfortunately the linkbox doesnt tip so we were having to unload all the pieces by hand as well. Exhausting stuff.

A huge pile of scrap wood  had accumulated  so we used that to celebrate Dads 65th birthday with a big burn up (about 12 foot high) Maybe we were celebrating finishing moving those slabs as well !

For a change from metal, concrete and wood, April suggested we start a small veg patch near the house for ease of watching the kids while working on it in future. Great idea, but first we had to dig all the turf off which nearly did me in. Obviously I had a terrible technique since April did the second patch in half the time !

This gave the opportunity to try the new rotavator, which of course was heavy and felt like it was going to pull my arms off (not to mention  chop my toes off!). Did the job though !

Next up in the heavy dangerous tools league was the new (eBay) hydraulic road breaker. There's so much concrete to break up I thought I'd get the proper tool for the job. Shame they dont sell an instant body building course to go with it (actually they probably do on eBay) because its a beast to work with for more than ten minutes.

 The worst tool to use for any length of time was the old Stihl saw, my hands were numb after about two minutes. The trench I'm opening up is for the services for the big caravan. I've just got this up on blocks and level at long last after our massive insulation efforts last month.

The caravan was originally going to be for Dads benefit, however a slightly smaller one appeared locally and after a short Sunday drive along the A7 main road at 10 mph it was ours. It has already been installed and connected up where the concrete stables were. The big caravan will be available for visitors or us when we need to do major work on the house. (Please form an orderly queue: gloves, tools and job sheet provided, sore arms and deep sleep guaranteed!)

In return for the caravan, we have lent some space out in the lower field , our first (visiting) big animals at the farm. It seemed appropriate that they were mules, a stubborn persistence will be what is required everywhere. The kids are a little wary of them (Mickey and Mary Doll) , in fact I even saw April make a hasty exit from the field at one point !

 April and the kids have been working hard as well. They have taken on the garden in front of the kitchen.

Its all been tidied up and parts lined with rocks to stop me driving the tractor over the flowers ! Various plants have appeared and hundreds of vegetables have been planted as plug plants ready for warmer weather- its still frosty regularly at the moment. However it has started drying out at last - its been a real mud fest at times, much to the kids amusement.

The dry weather has made it much easier for moving all the concrete floor from the old "silo" sheds where the big metal silo bins used to be. The ground had subsided considerably, thanks to very lightweight construction and the effects of rats ,which fed on the grain, burrowing under the floor edges. When I say "lightweight" ,its anything but "light" - its just not reinforced with metal rods !

 This made it easier to break up the slabs although every piece has to then be loaded by hand onto the tractor front loader which Dad then shuttles up the hill to dump on the huge pile that is appearing.

Yes, every single one of these bits of rock has been picked up by hand (several times) ,almost entirely over the last month. Not sure how many tonnes that would be but I can sure feel it on my back ! Dad's worn out -he is officially an OAP after all ! ;-)

Shifting it all has been a bit inefficient, as yet we have no tipping trailer, however we did recover the original farm trailer from the field - its in a right state, but will be restored at some point soon. Trouble is we'd then need to lift the concrete onto it !

I've been saving many of the 200 year old handmade bricks as they get uncovered. They probably came from the entrance archway area and had been used as hardcore. This really annoyed me until I remembered I'd done something equally misguided at our last house when I built the foundation for the garden wall with many hundreds of "old rubbish bricks" that turned out to be 120 year old handmade bricks (worth over £1 each!)   I also remember that I'd repointed the sandstone church wall at the back of alien rock in cement rather than lime mortar when we first got there- an absolute "NO NO NO!" in restoring old buildings. We learn by our mistakes I suppose !

The borrowed digger has proved most handy, I'd really like a bigger one at some point since there's so much to do, but this still has a load of power

We have almost managed to clear the concrete and hardcore underneath the "silo" slab area and have even found the original topsoil is still underneath some of it, which will be a real bonus for restoring plants and trees. One of the original sandstone walls (from an early melon house maybe) has just appeared today - about two feet under hardcore under the 12 inch thick concrete slab that was on top !

It looks as messy as ever but underneath all those tonnes and tonnes of dereliction something fantastic is waiting to appear.

I'll keep you posted as it does !

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