First off, apologies once again for the lack of blogs recently. When I first started blogging, I had very little confidence that people would be interested in my rural rantings ramblings, but the emails I have received (with the exception of the rather unpleasant one from the animal rights chap) have been very complimentary, so thank you all!
With the wet weather setting in I have been limited as to what I can finish off on the estate without causing damage before the spring comes and it turns slightly drier. I always knew this was going to be the case when you purchase an estate bordered by a lowland river so it is nothing that I am worried about. Most of my time has been spent in the new double garage servicing all the tractor implements, repairing and servicing the tractor itself, repairing the mini-excavator and the other bits and pieces such as the big ride on mower. (See Tuna, Trials and Tribulations for the full list.) The mini-excavator bushes particularly needed replacing which took me all day and the biggest sledge hammer I had.
We have now moved three of the horses onto the estate, and the horse rail around the perimeter track along the river and the temporary electric fencing in the fields is working well. The fields down towards the bottom of the estate are being used first as they will (at some stage in the winter) flood and become unusable. The horses had been testing the electric fencing when it wasn’t live (see below) and pushing their luck, and after they made a bid for freedom I decided it was time to electrify it. All three have now become acquainted with the fence now it is live and their urge to escape to the greener grass on the other side has (thus far) been curtailed!
The current thorn in my side is the local authority planning department, who so far have put us six months behind schedule. This has meant I had to spend some very longs days (well into the night) clearing stored materials and building a small hard standing and erecting two temporary stables and a storage room.
This was just so we could move three of the horses in prior to the permanent stable complex being built (it should have been completed three weeks ago according to the schedule I had!) This wasn’t what I had in mind, with the work taking place between rain showers and extricating stuck delivery HGV’s from one of the fields with the tractor! This meant the work took even longer as I had to use the compact tractor to ferry one ton bags of MOT Type 1 across the fields in preference to towing HGV’s out! Even now, I am awaiting their response to the tree survey report before I can carry on with the routine tree works, which was work I had planned through the winter!
Fortunately the temporary stables are now in place and put to good use, along with some running repairs to the pair of elderly stables already present on the estate. They will last us through the winter until the new stable yard and barn is completed in 2016. It does however, unfortunately mean that both the hay bales and haylage bales are being stored outside through the winter as all the existing barns are in use, a situation which isn’t ideal.
My planned work this month, fortunately, has been completed, with the new panel fencing installed along both sides of the footpath for privacy and security, new double vehicle gates giving access across the footpath to the weir pool paddocks and top river. New vehicle gates have also been installed in the main access to the paddocks off the access road, with additional security measures.
Most of the tree waste from the ground clearance in the weir pool paddocks has been burnt off or logged, but the old chicken coop remains. It now looks even more forlorn and abandoned than it did prior to the work but it’s not pressing enough to take up time on before the demolition of the old stables and barns to make way for the new builds.
There are still the wildly overgrown laurel trees on the very downstream beat of the Top River to cut back and the bank height to reduce as per a previous Flood Defence Consent. This is nice gravel with some fines in it and will work well at narrowing the channel in places and creating some new gravel riffles to enhance spawning. The Top River is devoid of macrophyte growth for much of its length, and this is down to the fact it is all over shaded by the bank side trees. Reducing the height and thickness of these should result in some submerged macrophyte growth and encourage fish to hold up in a channel which is otherwise devoid of cover (until I get some Large Woody Debris items installed in it).
The muck heap / compost heap has reduced in size fortunately, as I have been moving the rotted down areas to strategic points in the formal garden and it has been mixed with those beds that have been dug over with the mini-excavator. I have trained the father well it seems – he has been witnessed aggressively turning it over with the compact tractor front loader to ensure it rots down quickly.
Log deliveries have been going well, and the locals seem well used to me driving around the village in the tractor with a ton bags of logs on the front loader. I worked out I had delivered 28 ton bags in the past month, which is pretty good going by my reckoning!
As always, any fisheries, equine, agriculture, estate management or similar students who would like work placement or work experience are welcome to contact me on ACountryChap@outlook.com.
I shall keep you updated on progress, but I have been spending a fair amount of time carrying out work on other sites and estates, as well as in the office (and shooting and hunting when I have had the time.) In fact, that reminds me – I have 30 pheasants hanging in the barn which need sorting so I must go. I also have a very long ‘To Do’ list still!
All the best and a very Merry Christmas to you all,