After the scythe festival we had to clear everything up and it was quite surprising how quickly we did the initial bit: taking down tents, marquees, benders and all the ancillary items associated with said shelters. Luckily for us it was a bright and sunny day ( pity Monday wasn’t Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!). A bit of breakfast then on to the tools- hundreds of them and all of them had to be cleaned and sorted before they could be stowed away.
By the end of the day some light R&R was in order- we had had the intention of running some coracle races at the scythe festival but, alas, the weather hadn’t been so kind to us… BUT why not now?! Dan proceeded to take a coracle to the closest pond, a mere hundred yards away, on an expedition to darkest Wympole no less.
Coracles were mainly used in the West of Britain but are great fun to make and master; they tend to spin on the water when you first try to use them and the paddles are quite… different! The one we used was made at Wimpole from some ash and you pull with the paddle to make the coracle go forward ( quite tricky actually). Luckily for us we didn’t fall in so I think we might have a coracle relay race BBQ shortly…
News of the week were the baby ferrets (seven in all, but one died as it was deformed); these new ferrets will help to control the rabbits on the estate this winter and, as I have said before, ferreting can begin when there is an ‘R’ in the month (so- September). Plenty of rabbits about this year- could be a bumper year . We also gained another eight silver spangled chicks but one of these died too ( so- seven). These have gone down to Home Farm so people can watch them grow up.
Back to clearing up after the scythe event- had to mow the plots that were left as the weather was set to be fine for a few days (rain for the weekend was forecast though); could we make the hay in time?
With a bit of team work the larger plots were soon mown and the grass left to dry; however there were still quite a few acres left on the front lawn which would have taken a good day or two to do. Thankfully Albert came to the rescue and mowed the rest in what can only be described as ‘two shakes of a lamb’s tail’. Wonder how the pyramidal orchid was doing?
Having stripped down the scything event on Tuesday I had to transport the new retort kiln to Suffolk along with a load of green wood working tools. The National Trust Eastern region were having their Summer Festival which included a section on energy; and both Ian Pease and I agreed to supply some charcoal making equipment and associated tools.
Never saw much of the Summer Festival as we had to look after our section (which was a pity), but we did have a lot of people asking about wood fuel and charcoal. Explained about the different types of wood, their moisture content and what people used to use: pimps, faggots & billets along with range wood etc. We also ran the ‘have-a-go’ section where people could use the two-man saw, make rope from nettles and elm bark, make spatulas on the shaving horse and mow a little grass with a scythe which all involved using their own personal energy no less!
There was also a display of old green wood working tools that were not in use: so many different axes- some for hedge laying, some for coopering and wagon making, some for splitting logs into billets so that they could dry faster and some for felling (this last axe is a beast of an axe and, at seven pounds, a fair handful to wield) and of course there were also some ordinary, general axes. Even the two-man saw has quite a few variants: some to cut green wood and fell and some to cut dry wood and even to make planks from round timber.
Back at the ranch the farm team were furiously tedding (turning the hay so that it could dry quickly) as fast as they could as rain was forecast for Friday afternoon… would they get the first lot of hay baled in time?
Both tedders were out and the weather was fine and hot- perfect for drying the hay. By midday on Friday Simon Dudley had turned up with his baler and, if you take a very, very close look at the photo on the left, down in the avenue you may just see him. As it turns out everything was baled by six pm and loaded onto the trailers by eight pm; the rain came late and just as well. This year the farm managed to get a bumper crop off the front lawns and the three acres we had cut with scythes- thirty-six big bales of good quality hay in all.
That pyramidal orchid that was left managed to survive the whole ordeal intact! Well done, especially to Albert who worked around this tiny flower with his massive tractor and implements… just goes to show that if you care a little it does make a big difference.