Getting on with it

I still miss Peter’s coffee chats and cheese lunches; now, especially, as Monica’s away for a week and there’s hard, glassy ice preventing much activity outside. Woosey, I know, and when I get out there, well wrapped up, it feels good but the farmhouse is lovely and warm. Today, I’ll be in Manchester for lunch with niece Stacy and the train ride will open up my mind a bit.

My main focus has shifted, this week. There was to be a tree-planting session next weekend but that’s been delayed, probably for the best. We were told that only a small corner could be done this season, so we’d only planned on a small stretch of fencing to protect that area. On Friday, we learnt that they want to plant the whole farm, to our plan. The fencing contractor couldn’t complete the work in time so there’ll be a delay, though everyone is confident that all six hectares will be waving in the breeze by summer. It would have been punishing to dig and drive stakes through this frost, so I’m glad of the change. There isn’t much access for machinery so a lot of the work will be manual. I’ve taken the boarding off the far barn door so that their Gator can get through to carry the heavy stuff. Monica is lusting after one of those for herself now; see pic. The fencer said she should stick to her idea of driving a donkey rather than rolling down the hill, suicidally, in one of these.

There’s always something to do, of course and focus has shifted to unpacking the last load of stuff, getting the house straight (and clean, now we have a vacuum cleaner). This place is on a smaller scale than 107 so, even though all the big furniture, amazingly, got through the doors we’ll have to get used to full rooms until we can sort and simplify.

I’m vigorously defending the workshop from encroachment by all the overflowing household stuff. There’s still space in the small barn loft for that but I’m not sure how all the shed-rubbish—bikes, gardening gear, camping crap etc—can be put somewhere accessible but out of the workshop. Actually, I just had the answer while typing this: all those wooden shelves, too dust-prone for the decent workshop I want to create, can go into the garage. There’ll be plenty of space for them if they can be levelled on the brick floor. Thanks for your help.

I have a few small machines arriving in the next couple of weeks: 
None is less than 500kg so I hope the truck’s crane works to specification because I’m hoping to get them across to that, then reverse in and lift the machines onto the raised floor. I’ll use the bandsaw for the test lift, once all the crap is out of the way. The saw is as old as me and could look like the one in this discussion Nice work for a winter’s night. The planer is already restored. The multifunction jobbie is old but never used; found in the back of a dealer’s shop when he retired. All three-phase, so a converter is in the plans. The good news is that all this fits into the space with room for a proper workflow, now that I’ve booted my neighbour’s metalwork machines into their own garage, next door to the wood shop. The oven, never a comfortable fit with the forge, will be built elsewhere.

Monica and I have made our list of projects for this year. Ignoring the 20+ areas of planting, they include enough to kill any ordinary mortals but the place just needs that oven, a boot-room, a hydroelectric system and some beehives! The hydro and my book have been moved up the order in the hope they’ll fund some of the more whacky schemes. The barn conversion has a modest budget but will take a year to get going (thanks goodness!).

Bandit says hi. She woofs at everyone, now, when they first arrive, even Monica and myself if we’re carrying an odd-shaped load. Her cataracts are getting worse so she relies on outlines to recognise us. Still, she’s up for catching the ball and even enjoys a chase around the house; a new game Monica has introduced to exercise the pair of them while it’s cold outside. Bandit is OK with a stroll down to the canal but doesn’t like going up the hill, especially on snow and ice. It’ll soon be spring and we’ll all stretch our legs more.

A friend of a friend of Monica’s was invited to use a house in the Sierra Nevada, so a few of them went over last Friday for a week, leaving me amongst the boxes and wrapping paper. Today’s main task is to get the washing machine working; if I achieve nothing else this week, there must be a few brownie-points in that.

Now, it’s time to grind the morning’s coffee. The Aga turns out to be ideal for roasting those green beans I brought from Australia and the results are still delicious. Want some?

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