We've finally reached the last day of 2020, a right funny year to be frank. A year when people were isolated, jobs lost, people fell ill some didn't recover. For most it was a year of watching the news, adjusting to new restrictions and adapting to a new way of life.
Oddly not much changed here for us, the animals still needed to be fed, the largest job we needed to do was done, which meant hundreds of tons of slate has been delivered. Much of that tonnage was raked or moved about to the gardens and horses stables (for a base underneath matting) in barrows by us. We still have another 60 tons on order for the new year when the ground dries out just a touch. We've come to know the chap who brings the slate every well, He's called Robert. Extremely helpful and friendly he used to bring his own rake to help lay the track to our home. He even had a brief 3 minute conversation with our not so nice neighbour (you may all remember her from a previous post, we took her to court.... to repair the track). Well, 'conversation' is probably pushing the description a bit. She (and her tag along son) complained that he'd driven off the track by about 6 inches in order to drop the slate in the correct place. Robert was extremely pleasant and simply told them to grow up, to stop causing issues for everyone living around them and then proceeded to get on with the job. Needless to say she didn't return. He was worth every penny just to have her look so put out that a local chap was putting her in her place.
Not only are we now friends with Robert, who also is able to bring us hay from the farm where he works but also we offered him our digger. The poor thing has sat looking forlorn on our driveway for 18months. We did have a chap come to try to fix it, he proceeded to lose a bolt, and not bother coming back. Marvellous.... Even our neighbour (one of the nice ones) came over to look at it, it did start so we knew she was fixable. I suddenly decided one day that we should see if Robert wanted it, maybe he could fix it and get it going again. I offered it to him when he came to assess the extra drainage work we wanted him to come help us sort out. I told him we don't want any money for it, just an exchange, maybe some time from him, some skills we don't have, and maybe a few extra days with his digger maybe. You get the idea, a good old traditional trade off. Something which is very much alive in this community still. He agreed! the next day he called. Could he come collect the digger! Well YES!!! Honestly I couldn't wait to see it go, it was a blot on the driveway. I'd already managed to damage the Land Rover by driving into the arm of the digger to avoid a chicken... yes really, and it was blocking clear access to Leias kennel outside (another update which I haven't had time to write about).
It took him 2hrs 40 minutes to load her. hand winching her (she's heavy) on to the trailer, but off she went. It was a good day, my dad was here helping me cut down a massive hedge in the gardens and the digger went also. Who ever said nothing gets done in winter!
We've already benefited from gifting the digger. Robert brought his own digger up 3 days later, in the dark one evening. He fuelled it, oiled it and got it ready for me to use, leaving it with me for 4 days. I had barely a few seconds instructions on it but he trusted me to not damage it which I took to mean a lot.... it's expensive... and despite their size toppling a digger or damaging them is easily done.
So despite the weather I dug the ditch in the bottom field, addressing the drainage again but with a bigger machine I was able to open the ditch properly. The amount of water passing from the gardens into this ditch is amazing. I also trashed the area where the compost bins sat!!! and I trashed it!!! The ground was so wet but I would never have been able to move all that compost and muck by hand. I was able to re-position it into three piles, one even over the fence into the gardens where I have now started to lay it around on the borders. The point of the trashing,.... Well we need a muck heap. I proper one. We have three horses here now, and with the goats etc we need a large and properly functioning much heap. So now I have a flat area for that to go and some serious mud around it but that will all go.
Doing the track this year has also meant that we can now get deliveries of sand, specifically for making concrete. With all the local planning regulations complied with we have now been able to create yards for the goats. Each house now enjoying a concrete, sweepable and rinsable out door space. Ideal for keeping them off the grass and mud at this time of year which means we can control worm burdens in them plus vastly reduce any feet issues keeping them dry. This is literally been a game changer for us. So much so that despite the size (again regulations complied with) we are now planning the horses yard. The one off the driveway. Not only is the large barn great for the two ponies in bad weather but concreting it all means its useable all year for them and us. We hope to have a large order of sand on the 15th of January. I never thought id enjoy sweeping animal poo off concrete as much as I do!
Please note in the pic above... after removing the pallets Nelson had a break out of the other house he was moved to attempting to move back into his house despite the on going works. A bucket of food later and he was safely put away.
So the next 60 tons of slate are going to make a small track to another field gate and up to where the tractor will be parked, as well as an area of hard standing inside that last gate. I might be able to nab a bit for the patio I also want to lay.
So here we are at the end of 2020. I am sorry that I didn't carry on updating, believe me its been a hugely busy year in ways we didn't think it would be. Zoe the big horse arrived, and the veg garden I laid out was planted then not much was done with it, the slate and concrete took over. Plus I took the opportunity to get some skills on a friends house build learning a lot about building trade. This is where I met the chap who now delivers the sand. You see it's all about grabbing any opportunity as you never know where it takes you or how it impacts you.
Our smallholding is getting very close to being the best version of what we wanted to achieve thanks to everything that happened in 2020. From buying a house with no infrastructure around it we have certainly addressed that situation!
So to summarise 2020 for us, breeding the goats had some unavoidable and tragic events along with it, we bought sheep, 7 ewes specifically to go with our 2 rams and we lost our oldest dog Mr Riggs this year. Zoe the big horse arrived, Leia is now our farm dog and I'm working up to doing some proper training with her. Theres much to life here at Maes Mawr, as always.
So for those who are booked on a course in May 2021, rest assured we will be ready for you and we can't wait to share more of what we have done here. Have a lovely new year, here's to all the plans we all have.