Sunday, 17 November 2013

Snapshot November 2013

I've rather got out of the blogging habit recently due to the Facebook page and laziness. So I've decide that rather than try a complete roundup I'd just do a snapshot of the farm today.

It was such a glorious autumnal day that I was inspired to  share a little bit of just how lovely it was with a few photos. Maybe I'll add some photos of what happened over the summer in another post. Enjoy...

View to the lower field from yard
 In the kitchen, the rest of the family in relaxed Sunday morning mode...


In the former 'egg shed', various projects are underway using an assortment of worn out old tools and relatives   :)

Dad wondering how anyone can work in such a congested mess.

 In the yard , looking East, no sign of all those big sheds anymore and much of the concrete lifted, topsoil brought in, grass appearing, veg plot manured, pond outline apparent...

 ...shallow graves dug.... oops , actually they are raspberry cane trenches awaiting delivery this week. An impromptu football game happened shortly afterwards with the 'neighbours' in the caravan.

Look at the colour of thoes trees - fabulous!

Looking back up the yard, treehouse and 'new' hill visible in distance. I don't stand up on top of the wall very often so it makes for an unusual perspective.

The pond will be an ongoing side project

As does looking down into the glasshouse, which has been neglected by me(except for the grapes) since I've been far too busy to temporarily repair it and now leaks even more than ever...

The glasshouse is 45meters long and looks a lot like this all the way !

... which has not been good for the vines (second disasterous year in a row). A tactical error in spraying with dilute milk as an organic anti-fungal experiment worked initially but ended up slightly staining the grapes brown and altering their flavour. As a result I gave up on them and lost the lot to mould - several hundred bunches. Doh ! Quite pleased with the results up to that point - when the glasshouse is eventually repaired I'll be an expert...maybe !

April has had substantially more success earlier in year with her strawberries - several hundred plants now, all looking fabulous in the Autumnal light .

Down in the lower field the Grumpy caravan is getting a pre-winter makeover...

And in the upper field, the neighbours horses have munched everything down and are well wrapped for the impending cold weather...

The woods are just the perfect balance of leafless and colourful to allow the sunshine deep into the valley

More interesting fungus have popped up , not sure what these ones are yet...

I haven't managed a treehouse blogpost as intended, but it was finished externally , and we did sleep in it for a month over the summer. I might even decorate inside eventually. Mainly I just enjoy looking at it from a distance, the Grove Farm equivalent to a Gothic folly !

..and looking to the right , the recently rebuilt wall (to immediate  right of doorway) still awaits its crowning copestones but is already blending in perfectly...

I got 'distracted' onto completely rebuilding the entire master bedroom before we finished the wall (and its got a bit cold for lime mortar work now) and I'm pleased to say that, after sporadically working on the bedroom for much of the last three months, we 'moved in' yesterday and the light fitting went up three  hours ago...

(please excuse the terrible photo - its hot off the camera!)
So maybe thats why I managed a blogpost after so long - suddenly the workload seems to have reduced massively for a short while, all thats left to do today is ...




Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Spring 2013

The early spring 2013 at Grove Farm,  can be neatly summed up by this photo...

Occasionally it dried up enough to progress the treehouse , but it was slow, sporadic going. I will write a separate 'treehouse'  blogpost when its all done (its not quite done yet!) so will keep details in this post brief.

In March it stopped raining and snowed instead!  A year earlier it had been 24 degrees Celcius  and local kids had been swimming in the river ! The digger stopped digging and started snow-ploughing instead, much to the childrens amusment on the way to school !

Towing the car up the hill on school run.

It all looked very scenic...

Looking towards the ruin in lower field

...but made outside work almost impossible at times

Well I may have done a bit today, it looks so lovely !

When the spring warmth arrived the treehouse responded by shooting up rapidly- somewhat larger than I'd initially expected, like some unknown plant from a garden centre sale !

The main reason for this was the high calibre plans I was using (or was I drawing them as I built it, I cant quite remember !). Spot the deliberate mistake on these, the only, 'plans'....

I never could be that bothered with accurate plans.

 Correct - they dont have any measurements on them ! Since most of the materials are  reclaimed I just used everything I had available - which turned out to be quite a bit ! I'm quite pleased with how it looks - more a tree 'mansion' than tree 'house' !

Or, as a friend on the Grove Farm Facebook page put it,  "Make Awesome as they say!""

"Make Awesome!"

The treehouse has progressed considerably from there - but more in next post.

Other things that have been happening - regular archery by local students - shooting accurately at up to 100 yards !
THUD ! Bullseye !

 Possible ideas for future eco-grass management were looked into. aaaaaah !

"Alpaca my warm clothes"

A different perspective on the farm was gained from the view of a remote controlled R10 Quadrotor  courtesy of cousin Henry Fletcher.  The ongoing turning area and treehouse can be seen on the left. There is a video of the flight on YouTube . The lane I have dug out runs along behind the wall behind the two static caravans in yard.

The farm viewed towards Lothianbridge viaduct/ Newtongrange

By Easter the sun had just about returned, at least long enough for family visits and Easter egg hunting in the woods. Such a difference from two years ago where  the woods were almost inaccessible due to rhododendron.
If you go down to the woods today....

The Easter bunny is GOLD !

Vistors even got to enjoy 'hands-on' digger experience.

 Henry -  "Any digger jobs?"
Me -        "How about digging a hundred meters of  trench ?"
Henry -   "Great !"

More visitors like that please.

The digger novelty has rather worn off for me after several hundred hours at the controls !
Henry, flying the digger

Ah, the excitement of all that power !

Are women allowed in diggers?  Sammi proving otherwise ! :)

I had my own 'holiday travels'. All the way from the yard to the walled field via the newly cleared track. It took about five hours and was one of the more stressful holiday travels I've had , although I do seem to be whistling a happy tune in this photo...

Maybe I have Romany blood? ;)

The old metal and timber wall was opened up to gain access to the field. Originally this was a heated brick wall with multiple horizontal flues which is why it had long since collapsed. Luckily most of the remaining walls are in better condition and are solid construction.

Right tool for the job !

Eventually the static caravan got to its 'holiday destination'. 

The pleasure of having lots of space !

About a week later the strong winds finished off the remainder of the old collapsed wall and the metal wall that stood on it. Only the small trees stopped it being blown completely flat.

More work....

Rotten wood, rotten stone, rotten weather!

In the blink of an eye (or two weeks real time) the majority of the fallen wall was cleared up and a new 'palisade' clad with the original metal roofing sheets was  hastily erected to keep out invading hordes (and members of public on the churned up footpath).

This photo is viewed from near the bottom end of Grove farm looking towards the river.

Keep out !

Its all looking a bit ravaged as a combination of dreary weather, delayed Spring time and lots of clearance work with the digger and chainsaw but I'm sure that Nature will return as soon as we are on to another job.

Incredible as it might seem, two years earlier the area (above)... looked like this (below)...

The view to 'broom corner' at base of Grove Farm

Looking the opposite way (from a slightly different spot) can be seen all the bricks that we have reclaimed

Several thousand !

Most are cleaned ready for re-use in future rebuilding work., although most of the large, coursed wall stones are rotten from lying in the mud for decades. There is still a big pile of mixed stone and brick to sort as well (any volunteers ?!). I'm keen to keep every brick thats re-usable, the handmade ones in particular would be nearly impossible to recreate- each one a little piece of history !

A mix of 'Arniston' machine made and unknown but beautiful ,handmade bricks

The nearest ,more 'modern', bricks came from the shed that used to be  where the red patch is in this next photo.

The back of the yard

This area has changed quite a bit in the last two years , slowly returning to what it would probably have originally looked like. Most of it is North/ East facing so its not an ideal growing spot although there were some patches of exquisite soil buried under the new big piles of soil. These will be returned to the yard in due course when all the concrete has been lifted.

Two years ago it looked like this...

That really is the same place !
To help finish off the track and restore the footpath the local Council saw the wisdom in providing some lorry loads of tarmac road 'planings' . Now  the public could once more promenade on a Sunday through the countryside without sinking into the mud  (in their un-sensible shoes.)

Thank you Midlothian Council

You get all sorts of people  going along that track - and not all of them are fully prepared for the great outdoors !

Lundy learning to ride (and crash)
Elsewhere the enormous parking area has at last been (almost) finished .

About 400 square meters of parking. Ooops!
I'm not quite sure why it ended up that size either, might have had something to do with not measuring it or drawing a plan first. You would have thought I would have learned by now !

The hill made from the spoil from the track clearance has been finished with topsoil on one side, awaiting some trees and grass.

Although I was tempted just to keep building it higher and higher !

It will be good to draw a few of these mini-projects to a close. They seem to have taken up six months of my life in the blink of an eye. However its not every year of your life you get to build  a tree 'mansion', a  car park, a road, dig up a small hill and build it again somewhere else !

The summer may yet arrive , we've already had one really nice day this year (OK, it was half a day!)

Midlothian seems to be covered in dandelions this year !
Plans for the summer include . Finishing touches to treehouse over next few weeks; Ripping out most of the concrete in yard; Importing lots of soil into yard for a garden.

After that I will rip out our bedroom so that next year, when its freezing and wet outside again  I could just stay in bed in the warm !

Although  I doubt that will happen !