Some days you wake up to some rather amazing sunrises- this one started off as a golden glow across the whole of the sky, then a fine mist descended which gave rise to a very spectacular rainbow followed within a few minutes by a bucket full of rain. You’ll notice that the autumnal colours on the trees are beginning to show, if the weather is stable, cold and windless we may get to see the countryside in one of its most glorious coats.
Ah… the park rail fence we recycled and installed down at the Arrington end of the old deer park. We’ve begun to hate this fence, it’s been trouble ever since we started the job- loads of concrete and bricks practically all the way up to the top of the hill. It appears that when the original contractors cleared the WWII American hospital site they pushed/dumped a lot of it into the small valley/gully we were going up. Bent a lot of posts that had to be straightened but eventually we got past the demolition debris under the ground and then motored up the hill.
Having nigh on finished putting in all the fence posts is was time to finish off the rails but… we ran into a problem. It appears that one of the fences we recycled did not have the same top round bar diameter. The fence we took out to the west of the garden was an imperial one (in other words ‘inches’ not ‘centimetres’), oh cow dung! To make up the full 650m length of the fence at Arrington we also recycled the fence from the Folly and included some left over fencing from another job. All got a bit complicated but, with a bit of ingenuity and an angle grinder, all the flat rails and top round bars were fitted and in place. Mind you, the joining tubes caused another headache- the metric ones were ok but the imperial ones had to be made especially for the job ( just as well Andy Klose Engineering knew where to source electrically seamed welded tube!).
Now what was Tom up to? Digging a hole for the post the kissing gate was going to be fixed onto. We reused the old one which saved about £400; which leads me on to the savings for the whole job… To get contractors in to take out the West Avenue fence would have cost around £5,000 (and maybe more because of the concrete. Not only that, much of it may not have been reusable and scrapped because it would have been cut to make the job go quicker).
To then install the fence (some people insist on using concrete but I don’t like it as it is not very environmentally friendly because it has a huge CO2 footprint) would cost 650m x £20- so a whopping £13,000 plus, if we didn’t recycle the old fence, another £35/m (ouch that’s getting expensive) and another £22,750 saved. Total so far saved- £36,150. This is one of the reasons we don’t use contractors most of the time and do the job in-house. Mind you I have seen an awful lot of waste at Wimpole (and within the National Trust generally ) just because people want nice, shiny, new things and the way I look at it is that it takes a lot of work to earn money, especially in forestry, but also a lot of very generous people donate money to the NT and I feel that their hard-earned cash should be used wisely and not squandered…
One job nobody really likes is the painting- it’s rather monotonous to say the least but, if we all paint, the job gets done much more quickly. Now, to paint this fence would cost in the region of £15/m (so £9,750 which would include the paint). Total now- £45,900. I used to use Hammerite but changed to Dulux Weathershield, the latter was not up to the job so it was looking like Hammerite again… but at £10/litre that was going to be expensive. Years ago, when I took out the original hundred year old metal fences, I could see they had been coated in tar which probably came from the gas works at the Woodyard. Seemed no reason not to use it again and, at a fraction of the cost, may do a better job -bit sticky though!
Well, the painting job is going to be one of those hospital jobs ( we’ll do that as and when the weather is right) but the next job was to remove the concrete off the big gateposts that we needed. Took the best part of a morning to do this with the help of the Sumo hammer. (Without it we would have been days with a maul!) All the smashed concrete was used in the farm track at Cobbs Wood. (None of this is chucked in the skip where you pay for it to be taken away and dumped, which seems to happen a lot around here, plus we don’t have to buy so much limestone in either. Logical thinking!)
Well the gate was next… and what a heavy gate! No wonder there was so much concrete on the gatepost. Used the crane to get it to the end of the fence on top of the hill. Tom and Paul dug a huge hole as unfortunately we were going to have to use concrete to hold the post in position. Without it the gate would soon force the post inward and thus the gate would end up dragging on the ground. Nothing for it but to use that damned stuff- concrete. Still we did reuse the old gate which I know would have cost at least £1,500 (another great saving). So, altogether, the princely sum of £47,400 has been saved.
Finally all we had to do was weld the flat rails and round bars to the posts so that the livestock couldn’t force their way through it. Job jobbed apart from the painting, now we can start to take down the wire stock fences
Other jobs that we did in between the work on the fence included, believe it or not, recycling some yellow flag iris that the gardeners didn’t want. It is a wild flower of wet, boggy lands and pond edges and is native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. The rhizome has historically been used as a herbal remedy, most often as an emetic- a syrup is made and taken orally to induce vomiting when someone has swallowed something they should not have ( come to think of it the green leaves of daffodils do the same… I can vouch for that and don’t ask why!). However, don’t apply yellow flag iris to the skin or inhale it, the tannin-rich juices can be acrid and irritating. I don’t recommend using it at all, go to the doctor 🙂 . Another use for this plant has been for water treatment since it has the ability to take up heavy metals through its roots. Anyway, we took all the rhizomes and planted them around the lakes in suitable places, should look good in a few years time.
Another job we did was to do with the heavy, metal gauge stairs that were taken out of the farm cafe. I had thought we could use them to gain access to the top of the twenty-foot containers in our shed but they had been cut with an angle grinder and so needed welding plus the design would have had to be altered. By the time we had got Andy Klose Enginning to do this work it would have been more expensive than making a new one made to fit. So it had to be scrapped, but not before Tom spent most of the day cutting it up so that it could fit into the metal skip. Some days certain things just can’t be reused but at least it has gone into the recycling metal skip.
I’ve just bought a rifle scope to help us bash the bunnies- it’s that time of year when we have to go out at night to control the number of rabbits. Lately the rabbits have become quite lamp shy so these new sights will allow me to shoot without a lamp. Once state of the art these night vision scopes were only available to the military, now they are available to anyone.
Night vision devices work by gathering existing ambient light (starlight, moonlight or infra-red light) through the front lens. This light, which is made up of photons, goes into a photocathode tube that changes the photons to electrons. The electrons are then amplified to a much greater number through an electrical and chemical process. The electrons are then hurled against a phosphorus screen that changes the amplified electrons back into visible light that you see through the eyepiece. The image will now be a clear green-hued amplified re-creation of the scene you were observing.
FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD GENERATION
A Night Vision Device can be either a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd generation unit. What this stands for is what type of light intensifier tube is used for that particular device. The light intensifier tube is the heart and soul of an NVD.
1st generation is currently the most popular type of night vision in the world. Utilising the basic principles described earlier, a 1st generation will amplify the existing light several thousand times letting you see clearly in the dark. These units provide a bright and sharp image at a low-cost, which is perfect, whether you are boating, observing wildlife, or providing security for your home.
2nd generation is primarily used by law enforcement or for professional applications. This is because the cost of a 2nd gen unit is approximately £500 to £1000 more then a 1st gen. The main difference between a 1st and a 2nd generation unit is the addition of a micro-channel plate, commonly referred to as a MCP. The MCP works as an electron amplifier and is placed directly behind the photocathode. The MCP consists of millions of short parallel glass tubes. When the electrons pass through these short tubes, thousands more electrons are released. This extra process allows 2nd generation units to amplify the light many more times than 1st generation giving you a brighter and sharper image.
In the 3rd generation by adding a sensitive chemical, gallium arsenide, to the photocathode a brighter and sharper image was achieved over 2nd generation. An ion barrier film was also added to increase tube life. Gen. 3 provides the user with good to excellent low light performance.
Held another blacksmithing course and it was full up. It was nice to have two ladies as well as two men attending the introductory course in Victorian smithing.
All four people managed to finish their ram’s head hooks by the end of the day.
The next day on Sunday the Wympole Green Woodworkers were at Cobbs Wood Farm. Of note was Tony’s excellent toolbox made entirely of scrap wood found in a skip- that’s what I like to see. However I was only there until 11am so never saw all the other homemade items that turned up. Will hopefully see these at next month’s meeting…