Tuesday, 30 March 2010

I have at last got the Land Rover's four wheel drive system working! I am very pleased indeed! Most times I have attempted to use the machine I have ended up getting stuck. Not what I expected from the best 4 by 4 by far.... Anyway a special effort of finding out what was the matter was definately needed. Took the floor plate out and had a look at the gearbox linkage system and attempted to see how it works and the whole thing just came out. How it was meant to work was a mystery so tightened it and put back together as we found it. Jacked it all up off the ground and started it up and fiddled with the front hubs and managed to get the system working. Quite exciting. Took it out to a wet patch in the field and drove into it and instantly got stuck. Pressed the four wheel drive button which had appeared to do absolutely nothing mechanically and... as if by magic the vehicle just drove out as if it was invincible! So dont quite know what we did to it but fingers crossed at last I have a 4 x 4 that works!

The Market Drayton Farmers Market last weekend was a bit quieter than I had hoped and had a barrage of many questions about the new cider duty and will it affect us. Well... of course it will as we are cider makers! Anyway I had a great weekend up with my great buddies in Stoke the night before but got caught out with the clocks changing and had to leave the house quicker than a fire drill...and left half my stuff there

Had a photo shoot up at Weston Park today which was to promote and celebrate the first birthday of the Granary Shop. A few producers which had supplied the shop from the start were invited and there maybe just maybe a picture of christhefarmer in the Shropshire Star in the next few days. I will be up at Weston Park again this Easter Saturday offering tastings of our bottled ciders to visitors.

Weather has not been brilliant at all these past few days and we have had to do a few 'inside' jobs. The ground is really wet now and it is apparently going to get cold again soon which is a shame as we had all thought that spring had actually arrived and we could put the fierce winter behind us.

Tomorrow I am hoping to fire up the chainsaw and fell a few trees to make an effort of wood supplies for next winter.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Managing to carry on doing spring work which is pleasing. Fixed up another trough and got the old JCB up and banging. Disappointing to see that she managed to spring a few hose leaks which cost a fortune to fix. But after the problem was addressed she did well and saved a lot of back breaking work. Did another wood run in the 'beast' which was very successful. Managed to find some brilliant dry and dead wood which burns beautifully. Land Rover is working ok of sorts - still confused with how the damn 4 wheel drive works and seems that every time I get in it I manage to get stuck somewhere... I am aware that the 4 wheel drive push button is not correctly lined up but I always thought that low box is permanent 4 wheel drive plus there is the endless fiddling with the free wheeling hubs on the wheels. I think I have managed to get three wheels spinning but by that time I have dug myself in. Anyway I am sure I will get it sorted. The roof rack is brilliant and lots of stuff can get flung on the top like posts and rails. I even bothered to get the pressure washer on to it to try and get the green nature paint off it which has helped to lose that 'freshly dragged out of a field' look.
At last the sign for the entrance to the farm has been done by one of the local pubs and it looks pretty good. Attached it to the fence and the whole 'glitz up the entrance' project has now been completed.
Today I have been doing my first bit of field work which is another sign of spring. The job was harrowing - no it was actually harrowing. Essentially it is dragging a matrix of metal around the field to pull up the dead grass and to aerate the soil ready for spring.
We have had a bit of clear out of the cider shed - sort of spring cleaning. We are hoping that a few more people will be coming down to the farm shop from easter onwards.
Off to Market Drayton this sunday for a farmers market. Hopefully the weather will be ok.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Well the show at the weekend was OK but nothing really exciting as far as we were concerned. People seemed to be about but the Rugby and Grand Prix may well have made a difference. I feel that we are at the very start of when the cider season begins to take off. Enjoyed it though and thank you to the people who turned up to see us.
Back on the farm we have moved on to dealing with the replacement of the waterpipe feed on a trough on the farm. This particular trough has been a bit of a bugbear as it has not been working for quite some time yet this last winter sprung a fierce leak which was a nightmare.
So the main line was cut and 'new size' pipe was attached with a tap, drain, and new ball valve all set into an inspection chamber. We then filled in the large hole we had to dig to remove the wet soil and to make a sink hole to drain the water. The whole job went fairly well - always takes longer than you expect but a great job to at last complete.
The list of spring jobs is always endless but it is good to cross off a few on the list and feel a little more prepared for the year ahead. Still a good few tasks to go including the 'collect lots of firewood for next winter' job. Any firewood collection that has gone on is to scoop up any wood hanging about on the farm to keep the relentless hunger of the woodburner. In fact I am off to go on exactly that theme now...

Friday, 12 March 2010

First drop of rain this morning for quite a few days. More birdsong in the morning which helps to reinforce that spring is just around the corner. No yellow daffodils quite yet - still just the leaves poking up out of the ground.

Fencing went quite well yesterday despite the Land Rover deciding that it had had enough at the end of the day and refused to start. I am hoping that this is because I did not use the tedious 'warming up' of the plugs for long enough AND I have started and stopped it about 8 times during the day and it never really had a good chance to charge. Apart from this I think the Land Rover is going to be quite a success as it enables me to get to the more remote parts of the farm to do jobs.
Today I am loading up the van and heading off up to Telford for this evening. Stopping the night and cracking on with the farmers market at Telford for the weekend. Looking forward to a couple of nights out in Newport but not so much the early mornings....

Had an intense late afternoon the other day when the foal was dealt with. Tamed is too strong a word but a head collar was applied after much wailing and gnashing of teeth. What a feisty animal - jumped a gate from standstill and it was hard work to say the least. Didn't hear much horse whispering at all more horse swearing! I even heard the word slaughter house being shouted but I am assuming that was just in the heat of the moment. We were all quite chuffed the job has been done until I went to feed the horses this morning and lo and behold the head collar has fallen off..... a very, very disappointing sight to greet me.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The days are certainly getting noticibly longer which is brilliant as I am able to squeeze more useful hours into the day.

The fencing at the farm entrance is now complete and we are very pleased with it. The entrance has been widened to make turning easier and we are just waiting for our new 'welcome' sign.

After finishing the fencing I have moved on with trying to sort out my recent purchase of the Land Rover. After initially getting excited about the project disappointment began to filter through when there seemed to be a million of things that needed to be done, and then like sun breaking through a grey dull sky things are starting to look up again. Used it today for an 'official' job of repairing fencing on the farm and all seemed good. I can know start it on a key rather than hotwiring it with a long screwdriver each time I use it. I have now got some seats too which helps the ride across the fields somewhat. The bonnet is now the correct one, which hels as the Series 2 one that seemed to come with it flapped about everytime I went over a bump.like some It has a sort of ignition light and seems to be charging the battery once running. The exhaust has been improved which means not only the noise in South Shropshire has been reduced but also has the ridiculous amount of smoke inside the cab. I have replaced the back window and rivetted a quick plate by the pedals to stop stones mud and general debris from flying up off the tyres into my face. When it starts to rain again I will probably have to try and sort out the windows in the doors but all is good now.

Tomorrow is more fencing and then preparation for the first show of the season is on Thursday. Quite looking forward to the first show which is at Greenfields, Donnington Telford.

Monday, 1 March 2010

The website is continuing to be improved and admittedly I have got carried away with uploading photographs..

The fence project at the entrance to the farm has almost been completed and it is looking fantastic - vast improvement.

I have recently purchased an MOT failure old Land-Rover which I am quite excited about. Managed to get the engine working, pulled it out of someones field and mangaged to get back home. Many thanks to my buddy Rupert which seems to be more excited about the whole project than me. Yes it does need some attention such as clutch, brakes and floor pans but the main thing is that the engine works and its deisel. My intention is to use as a run about on the farm and save the unnecessary wear and tear on the transit van. IF it all goes well I am planning to purchase a winch and will help me get firewood from the remote places on the farm.

Photograph of the Land- Rover is on the website.

Today started with locating the horses which seemed to decide to break through the fence and go for walkabouts on the farm. All very exciting (for them). Now they have been relocated in a more secure fenced area.

The weather is fantastic today - nice and bright and warm in the sun. Definately a sniff of spring in the air today.