the snow which has caused such chaos in other parts of the UK has left us alone; in fact it’s been bright, breezy & cold but otherwise very pleasant with even some sunshine this afternoon. Still feeling ‘under the weather’ in spite of the pleasant if bitterly cold day, Tony had an appointment with the local Doctor; a fellow smallholder, his first lambs were (unexpectedly) born yesterday. He’s put Tony on a course of antibiotics for the next seven days which means as a pilot he cannot fly; so he’s at home on the Ffarm for the time being.
Whilst waiting for the prescription to be filled – & here in Wales it’s free, which is such a bonus – we checked up on the progress (or lack of it) concerning our replacement washing machine; which was supposed to have turned up on Wednesday, but unfortunately did not. We’re getting very frustrated now as the washing machine has effectively been out of commission for almost two months now; & if I’m driven to desparation & use it, I have to watch it like a hawk to ensure the kitchen isn’t swimming with water as I always have to be on standby with a mop & a pile of towels (which then also need washing of course). So watch this space…!
When we arrived home I made the contractors an impromptu lunch of hot egg & bacon sandwiches. As I do my own baking, literally everything is produced at home: our own eggs; bacon; bread & even tomato sauce – simply delicious. I’ve recently revived my interest in baking & so far this week have baked two multigrain loaves & two loaves of onion bread, which is especially delicious – Tony’s favourite. The last loaf of onion bread had a fearsome crust as I’d popped it in the Rayburn at around midnight; but then dropped off & did not wake up to retrieve it until about 0400! I thought it’d be dreadful but actually it was surprisingly good – if a little crunchy around the edges.
Our neighbour & local builder, Kev, arrived just as I was rustling up the ‘butty’ round; after which it was time to tackle the repair to the barn roof. I’d suffered a near-sleepless night with the resurgence of the strong winds, listening to the taunting ‘flap-flap-flap’ of the loose metal roof sheet as it was lifted time & again, threatening to come away altogether, which would undoubtedly have pulled a further large chunk of roof off with it. Thankfully it held until we could batten it down – properly, this time.
We set up two scaffold towers: one inside & one outside the building; then it was a question of hauling the new sheets onto the roof, sliding them beneath the upper ones & affixing them to what is left of the roof trusses, which have suffered badly from water damage. But with some canny bolting on Kev’s behalf, the roof was soundly repaired & should (hopefully) hold for a while longer before we start the more difficult & expensive job – but our ultimate aspiration – of replacing the whole roof (it needs it!). It is a gorgeous building, made of natural stone & so full of character; once the roof goes the whole thing would deteriorate depressingly quickly. And from a practical point of view, we cannot afford to lose it either! Some of you may have seen photos of it, taken by the NewLandOwner team (it featured in their ‘Smallholder’ magazine article on buildings the other year). Incidentaly I was particularly proud of Tony, who despite being unwell & suffering chronic vertigo into the bargain (so how he cheerfully does his ‘day job’, I’ll never quite comprehend) hauled himself up onto the roof to effect the repair – what a genuine hero.
Toiling up the hill to check on our pregnant ewes grazing the still-verdant top pasture in Parc Banc, I took the camera to get a few snaps of the building site: it really is coming on (we even have a new road down to the site!), & the great news is that the concrete pads have finally been laid! We spent a fair bit of the afternoon liaising with the pre-cast tank company who are supplying the two tanks we require to deal with our dairy & parlour washings; once they’re in, the building will go up – which should itself be delivered to site next week. And so the week after, it will hopefully be erected – hooray! At last, at long, long last, it really feels like we’re getting somewhere.
‘Ocean Joe’, our mobile fishmonger, popped by this afternoon; apart from purchasing some delicious swordfish steaks & some local trout we had a long chat about the cold box he uses to carry chilled & frozen produce in his vehicle – which gaveme an idea as a means of delivering our produce without having to go to the additional expense of a special vehicle – for the time being, at least. So a fortuitous visit – & as for the fish? Well, it is Friday, after all…!!