En Garde!

Monica said she never thought she’d spend her days bee-keeping and tending trees. I never thought I’d be fencing all day.

It was a fine, sunny Thursday as I wheeled Humpty down the hill to start the final stretches of fencing, along the canal locks. The job commenced with dismantling a section of the old, rotten fence and removing wire and plastic netting from the whole length. Using the crowbar to pry the rails from the posts, the connections are very variable and I managed to clonk my scalp with the toe of the bar. A bit of a bleed but missed any major veins.

The connection to the gate was carefully made to match the other side, where the memorial garden ends. The gate is set back, to allow the lock gate arm to swing wide, and I’ve angled the sides of the setback to make movement with barrows and stuff easier if the lock is in its usual, closed position. From there onwards, though, I’ve reverted to the Warland Farm pattern fence that I invented and have used on t’Other Bit, the Quarry and elsewhere. This relies upon sheep netting for the lower section, then has a couple of rails close together near the top of the posts. A wire along the tops, barbed or not, may be added. It achieves a higher top rail than the standard three-rail layout so it doesn’t need barbed wire to keep the sheep out. It’s also harder for people to climb over because there’s no rail at the level you need to step on. The top wire also makes it harder to get over.

It was a busy day at the lock so I spent a while chatting to folk on barges. Some Canal Trust workers were at Lock 34, pouring grout into holes to try to find and seal the leak into the Water Meadow. Very hit and miss but at least they’re still trying. They said that when pipes were laid inside the meadow to carry cables for Mercury, the trenches were back-filled with gravel instead of clay so the water seems to get into the trench and travel, making the leak hard to pinpoint.

All the chatting and waiting while people moved around the lock side delayed me a bit but the fence timbers are replaced to about half the length of the lock. Tomorrow, I should be able to complete the rest of Lock 35 including the wire netting. Maybe Lock 34 will be done before the bike ride that starts next Wednesday.

In mid-afternoon, Monica radioed to say she was deferring opening the hives until tomorrow because she was feeling a bit sun struck, having worked the morning on the hedge again. Unfortunately, a short while later she was booted into bee action when I reported a swarm passing over the lock and down to the road end. As she would have worried all night, Monica donned her yellow bee outfit and spent a few hours in the apiary. There was no evidence that the swarm came from our hives and all were reported healthy and busy.

After tea of fish and chips, Monica is away out to her Todmorden bee group. I hope she brags about all the kit I’ve made for her. My evening will include a long shower where I’ll be bathing my bonce.

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