Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Back To Work On The Smallholding. (The Smallholders Isambard Kingdom Brunel?)

"Maggie" our new Ford 4000 lifting a silage bale.  Number one son is driving her .  She's getting a coat of blue paint tonight and her wheels white.  I'm looking on telling him to take it easy.
"Sid" the Silage bale.  They weigh about 500 kgs and are far too big for my little tractor: "Anna Ford.  
"Yours Truly" operating our "Log Splitter".  Number one son made her.  He's only 16 and thinks he's the Smallholding answer to Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  He's got fantastic manual dexterity, unlike me.  
Me again operating the log splitter.  My beloved small tractor "Anna Ford" is providing the power.  She's about 41 years old and I love her to bits.  Do tractors go through the menopause?  I hope not because she's a pal and always helps out around the smallholding.  
It's been a fantastic day today and me and my son got tons done.  We cleaned out the old straw and FYM (full morning) with "Maggie our new Ford 4000 tractor and then we split logs this afternoon with "Anna Ford" my beloved little Ford 3000.  It's always nice after a storm.  Don't tell everybody but it's not raining.

My tractors are both named after females.  So here's a track dedicated to them by Barclay James Harvest: 'The Lady Loves'.  Anybody like them?  I think they are one of the best bands (rock) to come from the Manchester area.   Yeah 10CC weren't bad either, we know.


  1. I always liked MOCKINGBIRD
    Love the stripy top too

  2. Number one son is a clever lad. Handy to have someone mechanically minded to help out. Love that log splitter.
    I'm wary of clicking on links at the moment, having just got this computer repaired.

  3. Maggie looks a bit different in the undercoat, it's gonna look good finished though, always think they look more like tractors without the cab, are you intending to put it back on?

    No 1 son sounds a bit like my No 2 son, he's useful with machines, engines and hydraulics. You'll never convince them to take it easy, mine's the same, everything needs to be done at maximum speed.

    Like the log splitter, as with most good designs, it's very simple but very effective. The last one I saw had a captive plate and moving blade, sometimes an awkward log got stuck on it, so another log was put in behind it, that worked well.

    Looks like you finally got a bit of decent weather, about the same here, but not good enough to get outside.
    Raggy cat continues its hedonistic lifestyle, it's getting used to having a couple of thoughtful humans pandering to it.

  4. Hi John. Yes Mocking Bird is a classic. A great band.

  5. Ys John. He is a clever lad. It really annoys me that are no apprenticeships for practical young people. He made the log splitter with no plans. He just looked at a similar one made by a neighbour and he made his own. I can't believe how strong the hydraulic rams are.

  6. Maggie is blue again Cumbrian. You're right they do look better without a cab but we are going to put a new skim on the cab to keep us dry and in case she turns over. I suppose we could have just put a roll bar on Maggie. But you would always be getting saturated.

    A lot of the log splitters I have seen are vertical and the ram presses down or up on it. This seems safer. It cost 440 Euros to make and I have seen them on Done Deal for 1200 Euros. Obviously they are painted and a courier delivers them at that cost. Putting a log behind another log does do the trick.

    Another gale last night. Dry today. Still no hope of digging my vegetable plot. I just have to wait.

    Sounds like Raggy cat is well looked after.

  7. Yes, I suppose keeping dry's the benefit of a cab, but there's a lot of field work done in dry weather as well. But the safety angle wins.

    And I bet the biggest part of the 440 was for the hydraulic ram and hose with fittings, like most good designs it can be made of bits a lot of farmers would have lying about somewhere. Might be an idea to advertise one and see what response you get. Made from recycled materials and fully tested. Wood burners are coming back into fashion, so there must be a demand somewhere.

    Been to the dentist today, a tooth broke last week and left a jagged stump which I hoped would settle down, but it didn't, it's been tearing a hole in my cheek. We don't have a dentist, my last one was in Newton-le-Willows, when we moved back here I went to register and was told there's a 6 month waiting list, which was 4 years ago. So the emergency dental system sent me to Whitehaven, where a nice Polish girl examined it, decided it needed to come out, injected, dug about and removed what was left in several bits. All in 10 minutes and totally painless. "Don't eat or drink or smoke for 2 hours". Injection's worn off now, it's aching a bit, hope it's gone away by morning.

    Cumberland sausage and mash for tea, something not too challenging on the socket.
    Norfolk Werry to drink, a nice brew, real good head.
    How's your home alcohol production going?

    Windy and cold but no rain.
    Raggy cat back in front of fire, it's a bit too well looked after.

  8. Hi Cumbrian, Yes you are right there are fors and against for putting a cab on Maggie. We have decided to put the cab back on with a new skim roof. Especially with all the rain we get.

    You can get cheap ram kits on Ebay. But the one we bought was really strong. The hydraulic hoses and valve switch, girder and knife took it to the final figure. That's not including all the diesel, running around to lots of different places, the days labour and telephone calls. Also they charge 23 percent VAT for new goods and there's no VAT on secondhand. Yet when you pick up a piece of steel covered in rust, they tell you it's brand new.

    We will keep this one and hopefully get many years out of it. Number one son says he would make anybody a log splitter if they asked him. I wouldn't mind buying a woods and spending my days making firewood, maybe even charcoal and do some coppicing.

    Sorry to hear of your pain. I was in pain yesterday after a day mucking out the cattle and using the log splitter. It's an old crush injury. Once went to see a physio and he told me to exercise more. Why would you exercise something that's injured? Pain is awful isn't it? Think most allotment gardeners and farmers suffer from bad backs, rheumatism and athritis.

    They have started selling Cumberland sausage here in West Cork. It's very good. We really like the mead and Jeddah gin. It seems to get better every week. Disappointed with the ale kits. Must go for the dear one's next time. Still buying the Newcastle Brown and Thwaites Lancaster Bomber, when we can get it.

    Watched Question Time last night from Lancaster. The panel all agreed about the Cumbrian people deciding not to process old nuclear waste but Britain still needs nuclear power. Somebody in the audience said:

    "When you dismantle a wind turbine there is no pollution left on the site".

    You don't hear many anti nuclear politicians these days, do you?

  9. Yeah, constant pain drives you mad, really pulls you down.
    The tooth socket not too bad this morning, I'm still aware of it but feels like it's receding.
    Biggest problem here is getting on a dentists list, we're still waiting after 4 years, so there's no regular check-ups, only the emergency system. I suppose your teeth are just going to get to the toothache stage before you know there's anything amiss?

    The old injuries keep coming back to haunt us, I sprained my ankle when I was about 12, the doctor said he wished I'd broken it, he could set it, and I would always have a weak ankle. He was right, I go over on it very easily, leavbes me limping painfully for a few days.

    Cumberland sausages we reckon are only made in Cumberland, but it seems to be a regarded as a type of sausage now. There's not so many small butchers left now, but the ones there are make their own sausage, good stuff it is as well, they all have their own secret ingredients. Sadly their manufacture seems to be taken over by big national companies and the product in some of the superstores is uniformly bland; but still better than some of the cheap stuff sold as sausage.
    I could send some, but I doubt it would travel well, and God only knows what EEC restrictions and regulations I might be in breach of, probably punishable by a lengthy prison sentance.

    Sorry to hear the kits aren't working very well, I haven't had a failure for a while. I just use ordinary kits, but buy the better ones with 3 Kg malt, no sugar to be added. Downside is they cost a bit more, still cheaper than your pub though.
    Also use Cornelius kegs (google it) and pub-type CO2 gas bottle and regulator with decent taps for dispense, it gives a professional-looking long-lasting head. Expensive to set up, but I thought I'd only buy them once, they'll last a lot longer than I will. Only recurring expense is a gas bottle, I use the type from fire extinguishers, a 2 Kg bottle lasts a year or more.
    Pleased to hear the other stuff seems to be very drinkable, keep setting a new batch off for continuity of supplies, you'll build up a nice cellar.

    The dismantling of Calder Hall at Windscales, the original nuclear establishment, opened by the queen in 1957, is giving them some headaches trying to dispose of the contaminated materials. They don't know how long it's going to take to degrade naturally, if it ever will it's a long time, pronably measured in centuries.
    Everybody wants nuclear power, but nobody wants it next door.

    More grey skies, cool and breezy but not raining.
    Raggy cat in, milk & biccies, asleep on my computer chair until I kicked it off, looked at me disdainfully and removed to settee.

  10. Hi Cumbrian. I think it's only when you are ill or suffer from pain that you have sympathy for other people. I am 49 years of age and I can't believe how slow I am and how it takes me ages to recover from some hard physical work. A lot of people think they will take early retirement and move to the sticks. But often when you get to that stage you will be too weary or physically unable to carry out all your smallholding chores. I will curse the day when I can't plant any potatoes and muck out the cattle.

    The Cumberland sausages are very good. It's taken 11 years or so for us to be able to drink Newky Brown and Thwaites again. It was always just lager and stout on offer, here in Ireland. You can't beat English food and ale.

    I cynically think that the politicians only want nuclear for weapons. God forbid any terrorists blowing up or hijacking a nuclear power station in Europe. I am anti nuclear, but I think I am one of a dying breed. There is nowhere to get rid of the waste. I think wave power could generate tons of electricity. In Sweden and Denmark they buy slurry from farmers and convert it into electricity. There's also the gas from landfill sites and 200 years of coal left in Britain's coalfields.

    Dry today but lots of puddles in the potholes in the roads. I believe people have started claiming off the councils when their cars get damaged in England? It's a very good idea.

    Terrier asleep on sheepskin rug for a change.


  11. Yes mate, I've passed that magic big 6-0 that makes me a senior citizen, and I know well the feeling, things I could pick up with one hand now leave me struggling to move at all. I still manage most things, but it's getting harder every year.
    First time in my life I've had a decent sized garden and I'm too decrepit to cultivate it, it's hard enough to keep it looking presentable.
    The guy next door puts me to shame, he's about 74, still looks after his garden (at least as big as mine), palnts a little plot, biggish produvtive greenhouse and a few chickens. Some people are maybe just lucky with their genes?

    Yes, we still have some good food and ale, despite the efforts of the EEC and big business to make us conform to their mediocre tastless products.

    You could be right about the nuclear weapon capability. Yes I've heard all their argumants about how we need to have the ability to respond to a nuclear threat, but they somehow begin to look a bit useless when you realise that a full-blown nuclear war would completely devastate the whole world, and having the capability to respond is not going to stop some crack-pot dictator blasting us all to kingdom come.
    Agree there's so much un-tapped water energy in the rivers and tides for us to really need nuclear.
    And why not burn some of the land-fill material instaed of so much coal?

    Sun's shining, blue sky, breezy and cool.
    Raggy cat realised the fire's been put on so re-located to its warmer position.

  12. Hi Cumbrian, There is not enough books or advice on how to grow vegetables if you have a disability or old... The soil is beneath our feet so we have to bend and strain. I think you could make some really attractive raised beds to grow flowers and vegetables in. I have 5 baths that have a great depth of soil, you can sit on the side of them to weed and plant and sow. Some people use tyres to grow potatoes in them. But I have read old tyres contain cadmium which is very dangerous. Some use old railway sleepers but they are often covered in train diesel. You can buy new one's from China or is it India?, for about twenty five pounds each. I think Cotswold or dry stone raised beds would look really well. Please let me know of any raised bed ideas. Suppose you could build a little hen coop and a pig sty too. I think you're right about the genes. Some people also have had a few too many paper rounds, they are worn out. My dad was like that. He worked shift work and never knew when to stop. It told in the end though.

    British food and ale is very good, especially if you can make it yourself or source great brands like real ales and Aberdeen Angus beef...

    I think it's only a matter of time before some terrorist gets a job at a nuclear power station and holds the world to ransom. If a nuclear power station was blown up it would wipe out Europe.

    M.A.D (mutually assured destruction) is the only certainty if anybody pressed the button. We can never use them so why not just say you have them even if you haven't? Countries like Ireland don't have them and there is no threat. I once read that the amount the Western world spends on nuclear weapons in a fortnight,it would get rid of starvation for ever. Time to make Spears into ploughshares and all that.

    Think every river should have waterwheels and there is so much sea energy that is untapped like off shore windmills and wave power, hydro electricity systems. Even an h20 car?

    Nice day today. Starting to become changeable - dry day, wet day. We can all live with that.


  13. Thought about the raised planters, but it's a rented property and don't want to do too much landscaping, might have to undo it when we leave. Good idea though, the council tried once to create a wheelchair-friendly garden, lots of brick-built planters about 2' high in rows with wide concrete paths. Didn't last long, the vandals wrecked it repeatedly until the Council gave up and closed it. I could make a case for bringing back the birch.

    Chickens I might yet get a few, but like our travelling too much, and they're a bit of a tie. Same as a few breeding does and a buck. A couple of porkers I wouldn't mind either, could probably get them to pork weight in a few summer months, but sure that would go down like an inflatable anchor with the local council and the regulations, Apart from that I wouldn't like to have to send them away to be converted into joints, and I'm not allowed to do them at home any more.

    Ireland might not have nuclear, but that doesn't mean you'd be un-affected if the balloon went up, you're not that far away. I'm not a fan of it myself, it's just something we live with in West Cumbria, we're stuck with it for ever, it's another of those things that nobody wants to live next door to, but it at least provides employment.

    I realy can't believe that more work isn't been done on harnessing tidal power, I know there are a few barrages in existance, they all seem to work, so why not build more? There was talk of building one over the Solway a few years ago, but it never came to anything. Cost probably, so why not take a few thousand off the dole and give them a job?
    River-powered water wheels I think would be ideal for individual farms, estates or small communities, I can't see any restrictions on the number that could be built on a river.

    Lovely morning here, blue sky and sunshine, no breeze,just a touch of frost.
    Raggy cat missing this morning, but sneaked in the back door when I went to the garage for some onions, it's slow cooker scouse for dinner today.

  14. Hi Cumbrian,

    It's a pity you can't rent a smallholding or help some old farmer around their smallholding. It's amazing how much cheap smallholdings there are in Ireland and Europe. Saw one recently in West cork for 75000 Euros - farmhouse and an acre of land.

    I know what you mean about the allotment vandals. They should be given community service digging over overgrown allotments. I really miss my allotment in England. You always saw somebody to laugh and joke and put the world to rights. Smallholdings are too isolated.

    Ireland's been complaining for years about the pollution from Sellafield but Britain doesn't do anything about it. It's good to see that Germany is no longer nuclear.

    I agree with you about river powered water wheels and harnessing tidal power.

    Dry today, almost Spring like. Rain tonight. Supposed to get Artic conditions later in the week. Maggie the tractor is looking really good. Will post a blog later today or tomorrow.



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