Lots to do preparing for the new season, so we had an impromptu working party on the May Bank Holiday Monday, and the weather was (mostly!) kind. A great day – lots of people sowing seeds, weeding, palnting our and construcing beanpole supports! Thanks to all who came along
Lots to do here, lettuces sown in modules to go into the cold frames. Weeding, and of course spreading our piles of Mushroom compost over the ground to get it working for us and growing lots of veg!
Margaret moving the decreasing pile of mushroom compost
It was dry but a bit breezy today, so tea and coffee were very welcome. We even had to erect a temporary windbreak!
A welcome sight - tea and coffee
We also welcomed two new members, Graham and Judith, to the CSA today, with a mug of tea!
Chris on the way back for more compost
Gemma refuels with a digestive!
Our WWII V-2 rocket crater has been filled over the week with pond dredgings from a neighbour's pond in Rushmere, both filling the hole and adding fertility to our soil.
Today was also the time to recommission the farm veg box stall, overhauling it, making it a lot more sturdy and adding an insulated roof using an airspace and foil to try and fend off the summer noon-time heat to keep the boxes in top condition
Glorious sunshine graced us this working party, with plenty to do, inclduing ridging the leeks, hoeing and weeding, and spreading the mushroom compost. The pigs were moved in the morning, onto the old potato field next to the parking zone. They will help get out some of the potatoes that remain in the soil and enhance the soil fertility at the same time.
Eric pruning some trees in the Forest Garden
Pigs in their new location rooting for potatoes left over from last year
Lucy hoeing the leeks
The blackthorn is starting to in bloom, flowering before the leaves come out.
Blackthorn in bloom
The skylarks are busy, too
The BBC couldn’t make up its mind about today’s weather. They got it more right last night in that it was going to be wet than they did this morning, when they said it would be okay apart form one or two showers. It was wet.
It was time to move the chicken house. This weighs a ton, the trick is probably to make the house out of shiplap rather than weatherboard but so be it. It needed wheels at the heavy end. Wheels are quite dear – a couple of wheelbarrow wheels would do the trick but would come to over £50, and there are thorns on the field which sometime cause punctures. So we tried sawing some wheels out of round-ish logs. The whol thing ends up looking very Fred Flintstone and doesn’t give the smoothest ride, but in the end the unevenness of the field is more than the eccentricity of the wheels. So the axle holes were made with a 30mm spade bit; it would have been easier with an auger bit but that would have been nearly £20. The holes aren’t terribly precise, and used up two batteries of the cordless drill because the wheels are made of seasoned elm.
Wilma with the new set of wheels
It wasn’t too bad down the bottom where the ground has been compacted, but then it was time to haul this up the field into pole position fo the arrival of the chickens, so it needed to move up to near the muck heap at the top of the car parking. Which was about a 300m run, across rotovated ground and then across tussocky pasture. You need to put a lot of back into moving this on that surface.
Joanne and Eric after getting the chicken house over the veg beds, taking a breather and thinking 'that was hard work' while the pigs chomp contentedly in the distance
So far so good. Unfortunately the Luftwaffe went and bombed a crater in the way, so it was an easy-ish ride down the hill and a hell of a yomp up the the other side with a grade of about 5%.
head-scratching all round 'how the heck do we budge this thing then'?
Take # 1 wasn’t successful, though it was funny Lesley took inspiration from the venerable farm horse. The human upright stance does us no favours as a source of motive power!
In the end it was brute force that won the day. The coop won’t be run up this incline in nrmal use so we can live with the multi-person effort required to get it out of the crater.
Eric then did a great job in reinstating some of the path through one of the steaming piles of muck that we got from Capel on Thursday.
Many thanks to everyone who came along to our first tree-planting day of 2012. We planted around 100 trees: ash, sweet chestnut and Italian alder. A good day was had by all, and the trees will give us shelter from the wind, nuts, fertility (in the case of the nitrogen fixing Italian alder) and firewood in the years to come. We have a longterm plan for a community firewood sheme, check back in 15 years time when the trees have grown for more details! The next tree planting day is 4th February 2012 – do get in touch if you’d like to join us!
Tea break up at the top of the field
Leslie with her newly planted tree - and a chance to try the scratchcard from the old newspaper
Helen and Kirsty warming their feet over the fire after the kettle had boiled
To grow veg we need more organic matter in the soil, and it so happens that right next door there is an excellent source of it in the horses at the stables. They need to get rid of it and we can use it, what’s not to like?
There was a lot of it, so we rented a small dumper truck to help shift it. We shifted it by hand last year but this year the job is a lot bigger with more area to cover. And a bigger muck heap, too.
Loading up the dumper truck using muck forks
Eric was our driver for the day, the great thing about using the dumper truck was that the muck diggers were needed only at the muck pile, while Eric could unload on his own, so we didn’t have to have everyone moving from muck-heap to the muckpile. Although it’s only a hundred yards or so it improved the workflow no end.
Unloading the horse muck into the muckheap
Eric unloading the muck onto the heap using the dumper truck. There is a lot of muck to haul this year.
we also used some of the hand trucks
We used wheelbarrows and the hand cart to help out. Bering in mind that the first hand cart got trashed last year by being overloaded we went a bit easier on loading up this one.
One of the sources of the muck
the pile at the Oak Tree towards the end of the day