Our first night!!

Now I was warned about the darkness given the lack of street lighting and I have experienced the darkness of no street lights before, but the first time after dark that I opened the hovel door was an experience!!!! Total blinding darkness!!! Even after the dim lighting of the energy saving bulbs in the hovel it took a while for the eyes to adjust especially when it came to see where Polly had sauntered off to!! We ended up tying Miss Polly to a bit of string to allow her to roam about for a wee!!! As she is now 14 and a half and deaf we nearly lost her in daylight let alone at night and she seemed to have developed an extreme interest in the calves in the barn!!! And probably in eating their poo!! Or just trying to get her head kicked in by them!!

On night 1 shortly after heading for bed, in fact just as I was dozing off in the hovel, which by the way is basically a tin hut with corrugated plastic windows, plastic bags drawing pinned over them for the double glazing effect, a lot of wobbly polystyrene and sheep fleece stuffed in crevices, I realised how much of the outside world I could hear!!

The first thing which made me jump out of my skin, was the neighbours cat who decided to yowl literally just outside the bedroom “window.” Sookie went all kinds of crazy and leapt from the bed woofing, which set off Polly dog who had not heard the yowl, but heard small one go bananas!! After finally starting to calm down from that surprise, my hearing seemed to be on finely tuned, but it heard all sorts of owl calls from all around the tin hut!!

It took a while but I did actually manage to sleep the first night for a while!!

Hunting the Water Source

Dad and I walked up the mountain track to follow the spring feed for the Hovel.  There is a lot of evidence that the owner of the pony field has been digging out the ditches and improving the drainage over the mountain fields.  We followed the line of piping up the track and through the pony fields, stopping only to take some photos of the view!

We found the water spring pipe all the way up to the top copse with no end in sight!!!  Dad and I discussed borehole possibilities on the our return down the mountain and also rain water harvesting systems!

Rough Pastures

After a restorative cuppa in the Hovel we headed out along the other borders of the property over the rough pastureland.  Following the animal trails we wandered down to the stream pipe which seperates the two of the three section of rough pastureland.

IMG_1279 IMG_1278

Dad suggested we get a stone trough put in under the pipe rather than the current ironwork one, to allow for the water to be drunk.  I am not sure who he intends drinking the water, but as most of it is pony field and road run off….. ummm maybe not!! Not mentioning the fact that how the heck would we get the iron trough out and a stone one in!!!

In the far rough pasture there is a lot of Sphagnum Moss and marsh gras in the field portion adn around the pipe stream there is a lot of Salix Caprea or Goat willow and a LOT of Briars.  We would need to start at the top of the stream and work down in order for us to recolonise the stream sides with basketry willow!

Dad also pointed out another good potential woodland ingress point!! I say potential, because a. its a bit steep, b. its full of briars and brambles!!  There is a fence line and another channel down from the road then that prevents us accessing the woodland between us and our Mill neighbour, so we will need more investigations down here in the fullness of time!  Somewhere in there is apparently our Japanese Knotweed colony! UGH!!!

Having crossed back over the piped stream, we walked back across the lower edge of the middle rough pasture, across another drainage stream, which is the one supposedly to take the mountain track run off under the road and off down the hillside.  At this point we have three Leylandii and a teardrop shaped piece of flattish land which goes off towards Big Field and the gate we will probably turn into a stile, which will be our Orchard when the autumn comes and we can get planting!

We have lots of Nettle beds over this side that Dad said should be full of butterflies soon.  Just as he said that we saw three large peacock butterflies sitting amongst the nettles.  We walked amongst the grass and nettles for a while longer and discussed orchard possibilities…. and found a young Ash tree.

 

Back into the fields

We left the woodland and continued our wanderings around Big Field.  If we cut the briars in the corner of Big Field/Orchard we will have another good access point, which would save us getting caught up on the Blackthorns, as Mum did!!

We walked back up the hedge line and stopped at Orchard (or what will be our orchard) and Big Field Gate.  There are some areas here in the banked hedgerow that we need to rebank and also this hedgerow needs laying!  That will be a big job come the winter!  We also decided that it might be a good plan to remove this gate from Big field into Orchard entirely as we dont want our wooly friends accessing our baby trees when we plant them next year!!  We should just build a stile into the field and reinstate the banking/hedgerow in this section!  On our way out of Big Field we noticed some hedgerow creep into the field and decided that it would be worth noting them for movement later back into the hedgerow in the gaps mentioned around the place!!

IMG_1309

When we came back out of Big Field our neighbour was diggin out some of the wormery compost from Holding Field, so we stopped for a chat.  Turns out he is a friend of th chap we saw in the windows and doors showroom and he said that they were “expensive, but worth it!”  Walking back past the barns we met our close neighbour erecting fencing panels, which we thought initially were to obscure the view of our gorgeoous Azzy Barns!!

???????????????????????????????

But later we discovered that a Baby St Bernard was probably the real reason!  Chatting with our neighbour we discovered several things about the property.  The spring water dries up every year!!! Argh!!! that has sent us running for bore hole quotes!!!  he also has a borehole which he reckons is fantastic.  He also said that all the farms up here have fantastic septic tanks and if possible we should not touch ours, other than to connect the new barn!  his kitchen sink actually comes out into our septic, one of the bizarre issues from when the original farm was divided up!  Our neighbour also discussed some drainage and access issues that he and some others had had with the previous owner!  all concerning a triangle of grass opposite the front of the property, which upon checking is not even on our land, it seems to be classed as public highway!  The farmer who owns the hill fields needs better access to the hill track opposite and the water gushes down the hill track in times of heavy rain and can make the road impassable.  Some more things to check out then!!

On our way back to Hovel for a cuppa Dad and James decided to nvestigate the triangle of discontent! They discovered that the old ditch and pipework and drainage grate, which should have taken the mountain track water under the road was so silted up and unmaintained that nothing was draining through it and everything was headed over the road!  Another thing to add to the jobs list!!

The Woodland

The best place currently to get into the woodland is the top corner of Big Field.  As we went into the woodland the floor was a carpet of Wood Anemones and Celandine.

???????????????????????????????

It was beautiful.  We also found a few RedCampion flowers.

???????????????????????????????

To the left on entering the woodland the fencing/boundary needs to be sorted as it looks like our neighbours’ stock is travelling into our woodlands and potentially eating our bluebells.

Dad and James ventured the furthest down into the woodland.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

We found clearly stepped areas which would have been previously used by the coppice workers to access the lower areas of the woodland to work on the trees and coppice stools.  The stepped areas are visible across the whole woodland, with areas where they need to be reintated and shored up along the way!  There are a lot of hazel coppice stools along the topmost fringes of the woodland.

???????????????????????????????

And lots of Old Oak trees through the woodland.  We came across one that had ferns growing along its branches right the way to the top!

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

There is a lot of moss covering the trees in the woodland and Mum said that we would never have to worry about buying hanging basket liners again.  Not sure if that is ever something I would worry about.  We also noted that we have quite a bit of overstood coppice and some dead branches that would need to be sorted in the most part to support the woodland’s regeneration.

We all eventually came back up to the top path and meandered along it.  The woodland has a lot of hazel, oak and sycamore.  in the middle section of the woodland under Big Field there are two felled oaks, probably as a result of the winter storms this year.  It looks like the one Oak’s heartwood has rotted and it snapped off taking the lower oak out with it!  I shall need to get those out and planked or logged up and into the barn!

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

James looks like the cat that has got the cream in his photo!!  Look at all the lovely slate the oak’s roots have pulled out!  I wonder how hard it will be to extract a few bits!!!  It would be very useful for paths, stone walling etc, but some big chunks won’t bit easy to get out at all!

Walking further along the top path we came across a badger sett!

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

James went down onto the next level of the woodland step and found another large entrance hole too!  We saw more early evidence of bluebells too, but also some more evidence of our neighbours wooly friends hopping into the woodland and eating them!  Venturing further along we found an old oven and some bags of rubbish dumped.  These will need clearing in the fullness of time, probably when we have a skip on site.  We found the remnants of a blackbird egg.

???????????????????????????????

We then left the woodland… not through the bottom corner of Big field as the briars have taken over, but through what seemed to be the badger latrine under a load of blackthorn!

 

 

Our first proper trip to the farm!

This trip was HUGE!!!!! so I am going to divide it into several posts so as not to overwhelm myself or you dear readers!!

Well my parents arrived Good Friday having battled the Easter Weekend Traffic!!!! We stayed at home Friday night for them to recover and then headed down to the Farm on the Saturday Morning.  James and I realised that we had forgotten the keys for the Hovel’s padlock about 10 minutes away from the farm!!!! ARGH!!!!!! we were not going back for them!!!  So upon our arrival Dad and James hacksawed off the padlock and we had access!! Phew!!!  We moved a few boxes of bits in and got the kettle on for a brew.  James and Dad began to light the Rayburn, which was a palaver and a half!! But they managed, whilst Mum and I went to greet the tenants.  By this weekend the Tenants (the calves) were in an even deeper sludge of poo and straw, but we were relaibly informed they were to be moved to pasture in a few days!

We shut everything up and took a trip into one of the nearby towns to meet one of the guys I had arranged to come and quote us for windows and doors at his showroom.  And to pick up a new padlock for the Hovel! Some gorgeous windows and doors… but by Barry’s own admission, on the medium to high end of the price spectrum.  We shall see how the quotes come in!!

We returned to the farm proud owners of a new padlock and had some lunch before making our first proper excursion to show Mum and Dad round the property.  Immediately dad spotted some St Johns Wort growing on the front borders of the Hovel and said we should get rid of it as it is a weed… I don’t think we shall get rid of too much identifable stuff like that just yet!  Especially as my book says that it grows only in a few locations in England and Wales… more thought needed first I think!

We walked along past the Calves and into the Yard area, weher Dad spotted some areas of hardstanding at the top end by the banked wall.  This might end up being a good area for some camper vans to stay or a possible sighting for the Eco-loo block.  We walked on towards the Holding field which is a small hedged area between the two big fields of ours.  Currently it has a load of wormery compost in it, as our neighbour told us.  he had put it there when he rented areas from the previous owner and had asked to remove some of it for his wife’s borders!  We wandered on into the Big field, past the large stone trough and along the top hedge which seems recently layed.  our sheep tenants and their lambs were all safely in the small field, so given that we had Sookie with us we closed the gate, keeping them in and Sookie out!  Although Sookie is of a very nervous disposition and would go within many feet of our wooly tenants!

IMG_1310

You can see evidence of the wooly tenants all round the fields in the bits wool everywhere!  We have a wealth of Blackthorn in the hedgerows and violets in all the banks.  Of the standard trees in the layed hedgerows we have one silver birch in the boundary between big field and small field and several others, although it is a wee bit early to tell what they all are properly, as spring in later up here due to the altitude!

There is plenty of work to do in Big Field for the boundaries, half of the one banked hedge line needs restocking with trees and an area in the border between big and small field needs to be rebanked and reinforced for stock proofing.

But can you see the old stone workings in the banking…. Oh Yes and all the ironwork lolling about the place!! There is a LOT of that, so we will need to slowly collect it all up, use what we can and move the rest into the barns over time, so we can decide what to do with it! Maybe some can be used to fill some fencing gaps….

Tentative First Steps!

We arrived at the Smallholding/Farm (I shall be using these terms probably fairly interchangeably!) to collect the keys and complete a few bits and pieces with the previous Owner.  We were introduced to the workings of the oil fired Rayburn…

IMG_1297

We were also shown how to precariously dip the oil tank to check levels, thankfully there seems to be enough in there for some time, especially given that we won’t be there all the time!

We read the electric meter and that was it…. No water meter as the property is spring fed…. no gas…. Just the electric and then the previous owner was making arrangements to collect some of her larger furnishings she did not want to move twice and that was it…. the farm was ours!!

That weekend we also met our tenants….

IMG_1284

Two of our barns are rented out currently to a local farmer who needs the extra space during lambing season in his sheds, so moves his cattle into ours!

We then had a wander about the property with James’ mum and Sookie, his dad stayed behind with Polly for a snooze on the sofa in the Hovel!

And found some tracks…. deer??? or some of our other tenants wandering out of their field…. The other tenants are a few sheep and their lambs in the fields….