Oh deer, oh deer, oh deer…

Steam roller at Cheefins vintage auction

Steam roller at Cheffins’ Vintage Auction

A day out at Cheffins’ Vintage Auction at Sutton last Saturday- always a very interesting day to see what is up for sale and how much it goes for. I did have an eye on a few things and wondered what price they might achieve…

Is this one to buy?

Is this one to buy?

Living vans towed behind traction engines

Living vans towed behind traction engines

There were some very fine steam engines and rollers for sale. The traction engines had a hefty price tag (well over a quarter of a million pounds for some- ouch). On the other hand however the steam rollers were significantly cheaper with an estimate of £40,000- a very worthwhile investment if you want to enter the world of steam. Then of course there are the living vans associated with the steam engines and rollers; lately these have been increasing in value and can achieve over £10,000 each. John the engineer ranger was showing some interest and  inclination towards one of the rollers (Shhh! Don’t tell his wife!). In the end none of the steam rollers sold but the Fowler traction engine went for just under £300,000.


Titan tractor


Moline Universal Tractor

Near the steam engines were some really old tractors- the Titan was made in the USA sometime after the First World War and then there was the Moline. Here is a bit from Wiki:

“The Moline Plow Company was an American manufacturer of plows and other farm implements, headquartered in Moline, Illinois, USA.

Moline Plow was formed in the 1870s when the firm of Candee & Swan, a competitor of Deere and Company (also of Moline), won a lawsuit against Deere allowing it to use the “Moline Plow” name. Reorganized under the new name, it built a line of horse-drawn plows and other implements to serve the large American agricultural market. The implement line included wagons and carriages. The company absorbed various smaller wagon and carriage building companies.

From about 1916 until 1923, the company built a versatile tractor called the Moline Universal Tractor, which was an early attempt to serve unmet market demand for a small, light, affordable, general-purpose tractor. It was a two-wheel tractor whose trailing implement provided the rear wheels to form a four-wheel articulated unit. Its nimble design was more suitable for cultivating row crops than were most contemporary tractors. In various advertisements the name was sometimes hyphenated as “Moline-Universal”. An overview of Moline Universal design and operation, written by the company as a contributing corporate author to a 1920 how-to guide for farmers, is available in Harry W. Adams’ 1920 book Adams’ Common Sense Instruction On Gas Tractor Operation. Moline Plow considered the Allis-Chalmers Model 6-12, a very similar tractor, to be a patent-infringing copy.”


God knows but I don’t!


Just liked the exhaust.

There were others but I had no idea what they were. Then there was the HSCS tractor with its rather quaint chimney- couldn’t find out much about this one but here is a little bit of history I could find:

The partnership with Clayton and Shuttleworth was bought out in 1921. HSCS then built their first tractor in 1923. The first machine was a petrol engine model and this was followed by a semi-diesel to the Lanz design after they bought the firm out in 1938 (these were built ’til the 1950s). In 1951 the company was renamed Red Star Tractors when it was nationalised by the communist government of the day and started in the 1960s using the brand name of Dutra on its tractors.

Ford Major roadless

Ford Major Roadless

Now a tractor I would love to acquire would be a Ford Roadless- an interesting combination as Ford never produced a 4×4 tractor and it was the Roadless company that converted the Ford Major group to 4×4. Here is a bit of history I found on the web about the Roadless company:

Roadless traction Ltd was founded in 1919 by Colonel Phillip Henry Johnson, a brilliant engineer, to exploit the tracks that he had worked on during the First World War. Between 1925 and the 1950s Roadless built crawler and half track conversion tractors based on several makes of tractor. From 1953, the company built 4-wd conversions based on Ford tractors, as well as some other makes, from the 1960s till 1983 when they went into liquidation. The firm was revived for a short time but then the new owners also went bust and tractor production ended.

Didn’t know that! Now I do.

Could do with this!

Could do with this John!

Just a thought for John the engineer ranger… this would be cheaper to buy and do the same job!

£50 what!!!!!!

£50- what?!!!!!

With great amusement I watched the stationary engines go; then it was time for the rural bygones to be sold. Prices seemed high and I knew I was going to lose out but really … £50 for a relatively modern milking stool! And not a good one either. Might make a lot of them and then distress them ’til they look old. £££££££££££££££££££!

Dam £70 to much for me

Damn- £70… too much for me

Poll axe over £100

Poleaxe -over £100

Next to go was the poleaxe -this item was used to kill livestock. Poleaxes always go for a lot as they seem to be rather rare these days. However, I had my eye on a Ewell billhook and small axe… I was willing to go to £50 as they are ideal for hedge laying but, alas, others fought me off and the hammer went down at £70 plus commission.

Albert you're getting a Claas combine :-)

Albert you’re getting a Claas combine 🙂

Couldn’t help thinking of Albert- the Farm has all Claas machinery but the combine harvester is a Massey Ferguson. Here you are Albert… a Claas combine in pretty good condition for its age (same as you) and it had obviously just finished working as a whole lot of wheat was sprouting in the cutters. As for the rest of the auction items I did manage to acquire two portable forges for  very little money ( £50 each); these will be in use at the craft fair at Wimpole shortly. I bought a pair of iron wheels for myself as they will either go on the racksaw to make it portable or I’ll make them into a horse logging arch (£48 plus commission- not bad at all). Ah! I also got a blacksmith’s leg vice for the forge at £20 and, after much iffing and butting and, with a little help from Justin’s friend Mr Wotton, who is a well known farmer, he suggested that I should try to buy the smaller of the three Massey Ferguson drills.

MF 34drill

MF 34drill

It was a 34 MF drill (about 2.5 wide)  and could be most advantageously used in sowing the heritage crops and possibly drilling seed for some bird margins. The first two drills sold for over £300 to a dealer from Ireland; I thought I was sunk as my limit was going to be £250. As luck would have it tho’ he did not bid on this one, probably because it was an older type and smaller, but it is in excellent condition and must have been well looked after and barn stored.

Sold some wood and brash
Sold some wood and brash
Waste not want not

Waste not, want not-  re-using baler twine.

It was one of those weeks of too much to do- we had to fell the rest of the hedge at Valley Farm and try to clear up before the Farm came to plough the fields. First job was to collect the brash and timber that a gentleman wanted so that he could make reindeer to sell. All the proceeds were going to a charity (very enterprising as he was going to get a certain racecourse to sell them in aid of MS). So we did him a good deal for the wood- he was happy and we had helped pay for our wages. Talking of money we get £7/m for coppicing and in this case we will have somewhere between 40-50 green tons of elm wood. Then there are the hedging stakes and binders. Reindeer eh ? Wonder if WE can make ’em?

Repairing the track to Cobbs wood farm

Repairing the track to Cobbs Wood Farm

Had to fill in some more holes in the farm track to Cobbs Wood Farm before they got even bigger (had the help of the farm team, namely Martin). Then there were those pesky pigeons up at the Folly – seem to be hundreds of them  (they do make a very good stir fry though). We were also out on Wednesday after the rabbits. This time we went lamping with the .22 rifle over at Valley Farm as these fields had not been ploughed yet. Seem to be a lot fewer rabbits this year which is probably the result of the ferreting Alan and John did last year as well as myxomatosis; here is a bit from Wiki about it:

“Myxomatosis (sometimes shortened to “myxo” or “myxy”) is a disease that affects rabbits and is caused by the myxoma virus. It was first observed in Uruguay in laboratory rabbits in the late 19th century. It was introduced into Australia in 1950 in an attempt to control the rabbit population. Affected rabbits develop skin tumors, and in some cases blindness, followed by fatigue and fever; they usually die within 14 days of contracting the disease.

The disease is spread by direct contact with an affected animal or by being bitten by fleas or mosquitoes that have fed on an infected rabbit. The myxomatosis virus does not replicate in these insect hosts, but can be physically carried by an insect’s mouthparts, i.e. from an infected rabbit to another susceptible animal. Due to the potential of insect vector transmission, pet rabbits may be susceptible in enzootic areas and vaccination is highly recommended.”

We got 21 rabbits this time and all will go to people who appreciate wild game meat in the local community.

The Acorn Award

The Acorn Award

Oak platter to boot

Oak platter to boot

Had a very pleasant surprise on Tuesday night at Anglesey Abbey ( nearly forgot to go!!!!!!!!!!!). The East of England Environmental Team decided to launch some environmental awards for the region (more details can be found on a previous re-blogged post). The  Wimpole forestry team (that’s us!) were chosen for the Acorn award for improvements in the environment. This included the green haying, hedge laying, tree work and developing rural skills. I have to admit that it is extremely nice to get recognised for all the hard work done in the countryside (which can get overlooked). I was also very impressed with the other properties in the East of England (many being selected for quite a few of the awards). Norfolk won the day though as they received the most awards for their environmental work, well done Norfolk. It was so successful that I hope these awards are made annually (and throughout the National Trust) as it helps to make people realise and appreciate that the land and environment will have to be ‘fit for the future’.

Our friendly bat

Our friendly bat


45 or common Pipestrelle

Very odd thing happened on Thursday- opened the door to the Maternity Ward at Cobbs Wood Farm (it was the pig maternity ward!) and a small pipestrelle bat fell onto the floor. I had the opportunity to photograph it before putting it into a small crevice to keep it safe. Strangely I had a bat walk that evening too- it was warm but the bats were few and far between, even the Lakes had very little activity. However, we did see quite a few 45 pips and a few 55 pips, some daubentons and we heard a serotine. Not bad really considering it’s quite late in the year for a bat walk.

At last the stone can be moved

At last the stone can be moved

Having felled most of the hedge and carted home some of the elm wood we then moved the Uncarved Block. The timber trailer and crane came into use and so did some new lifting straps; these are colour coded so that you can see what tonnage they can lift- purple will lift one ton, green two ton while yellow ones will lift three tons and, as the crane will only lift 2.5 ton, yellow it was. These lifting straps have to be checked each year for wear and tear but, although they can only be used to lift the indicated amount, they do have a much greater breaking strain. The three ton straps will break at twenty one tons!

No pont going back empty handed

No point going back empty handed

The stone probably only weighed just over two ton but, because of the grapple that adds a further half a ton, the total lifting weight for the crane was 2.5 ton. Just managed to get it on the trailer. We then took it up to the Gloucesters and placed it in front of one of the oak seats in a woodland ride. No point going back empty handed so we grabbed another seven tons of felled wood.

The uncarved block

The uncarved block

Well, you see, the uncarved block is all about looking at any raw object and wondering what you could carve or make from it. In this case it was a piece of plum… now it could have become a multitude of treen items but, in the end, some of it just sort of happened and a spatula appeared. It does mean that I can’t go back and all those other ideas disappear. So sometimes it’s better to just admire the rawness of nature and leave well alone to just let yourself wander through your imagination…

Oh deer

Oh deer

These deer are getting bold!


About Sadeik

You may ask why "Sadeik" well it means friend in arabic. Worked in Jordan a lot doing tree surgery you see. I have worked in forestry since I left school with a two years in Telecom. Went back to forestry and tree surgery as it may not have paid as much but was far more interesting and dangerous. Spent a lot of years mountaineering, caving and canoeing too. At 29 I went to Bangor University to study Forestry and soil science then did an MSc in Water engineering all very interesting. By a quirk of fate in 1995 ended up helping sort out the woodland and park at Wimpole, funny thing was then I only intended to stay six months or so, but 18 years later I'm still here learning all the time. That's the best bit, if I wasn't able to learn something new every year I would not have stayed and as you get older you realise that the grass is not so green in the next field after all. In fact my patch is getting greener while much of the rest is getting browner.
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