At the beginning of the week I noticed that a section of wall had fallen down- was it just because it had been unsafe or was some other agent involved? An inspection by Bill & Ben plus Weed revealed that the culprit had been a large tractor (which had probably had to swerve towards the wall due to someone else coming the other way); however, even Sherlock Holmes would not be able to find the villain!
Meanwhile, Rosie the Visitor Experience Ranger was busy with Folly tours (Gothic Tower to some but a folly because it was built just to please the eye and the gamekeeper’s house in the tower was an afterthought). She was also out and about running the ‘ 50 things before eleven’ (years of age, not time, silly!) activities. One of these was to build dens in the woods with a nice warm fire as an extra. (She did have to draft in help to get it alight tho’ 😉 )
Next on our list of work was the clearing up of the litter in the woods- Jim and Paul elected to do this rather than paint the Cobbs Wood Farm buildings. They scoured the whole of the woodland belts and were quite pleased to find only a small amount of litter (plastic drink bottles and poo bags were the worst culprits).
On their way around they discovered that some stock fence, that we had only just replaced in the spring, had been cut. It would seem that a local dog walker fancied cutting the wire so that they could get their dog through (probably a large dog by the size of the hole). For nearly twenty years now some person, who lives locally, has continually cut fences all over the estate including tree guards and the like. Hmmmm – wonder what makes people who do these sort of things tick? It’s mindless vandalism which allows the sheep and cattle to escape… gates are even propped open too. Anyway, Jim and Paul’s next job was to repair the fence before any of the stock escaped.
Finally, having got the tractor back (and the tyre repaired on the yellow trailer) we were able to transport the two-inch clean limestone at Cobbs Wood Farm to a path through a little copse known as French’s Corner. In the winter this is a mud bath nearly a foot deep. Cost of stone= £360 for twenty ton; length done= 75 metres plus the equivalent of a two-man day & tractor/trailer= £400. Cost per metre= just over £10; cost per kilometre =£10,000 ( and this is just a light covering only suitable for walkers, definitely not for farm traffic).
It was a lot easier spreading it with a tipping trailer although we still had to spread it out evenly and roll it to make it suitable as a footpath. Luckily for us Abi from the Farm loaded the trailer with a teleporter (pretty glad about that because shovelling twenty tons into the trailer would have been hard work!).
After a year and a half Dan has decided to move on to a job in aboriculture ( that’s tree surgery to you and me). He had tried for a job at Kew Gardens and, alas, did not get that one but, during the scything festival at Wimpole, he met Joe who runs an aboricultural firm in Saffron Walden. This is the sort of job he really wanted rather than just grass cutting and strimming, although the forestry and tree surgery work he did during the winter with us was just up his street ( however that was only ever going to be seasonal). Anyway, we had a BBQ by the Lakes for him and brought along the coracles to have a race or two. It rained but all had fun and some of my Norfolk hogget from the BBQ (Dan’s a veggie so didn’t partake in that bit).
First out was Shane ( but not for long- he chickened out) while Dan went straight in followed by the others in pairs as we only had two coracles.
Steph and Jess also had a go but, because someone had been climbing on the wall at Milton Keynes and fallen off, they became dizzy and had to be towed back to dry land. Shane also eventually felt that he had to do his bit or get the mickey taken out of him.
After the BBQ a few dry willow sticks helped the fire burst into life and provided a lovely warm glow- a nice end to the evening. Best wishes to Dan in his new job.
Last day of the week and, after mowing around the Cobbs Wood Farm buildings, we were able to get the roof ladder in position so that the lost tiles could be replaced along with those that had slipped because the clay nibs had suffered from frost damage. These nibs hold the tile in place on the roof batten but, when they get old and deteriorate, the tile slips and eventually falls off the roof, thus letting water in which would cause the roofing timbers to rot. The only thing was… the sycamore tree needed lifting (darn, Dan could have done that!). That job would have to wait until the following week.
The slipped tiles that had not fallen off were removed and a lead strip was nailed onto the batten. The tile was then replaced and the part of the lead strip extending beyond the tile was lifted up and bent backwards and upwards to hold the tile in place. That should last for quite a while. So, nearly all the roofs have been done (only that bit around the sycamore to do). This will keep the winter weather out.