“Why did you ‘ave that silly little lean-to bolted on to yer shed?”

Alan asked, clutching his cup of coffee & munching thoughtfully on the proffered plate of biscuits.  We were surveying the progress of the Dairy Complex’s construction, which has been coming on well, this week; the sides are almost finished & it’s actually starting to resemble a proper building, with an ever-increasing appreciation of the volume therein. 

And it looks lovely; the mellow gold of the timbers settling onto the earth as if it’s always been there, in spite of the rather wet, muddy state of the site & my increasingly woebegone sighs at the degeneration of my once-immaculate arrivals yard; regraded & relaid only a year ago, & now churned up by the continual comings-&-goings of the heavy Manitou as its wheels grind the stone chippings into the sticky soil beneath.  Ah well; you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, as Tony continually reminds me….not that he ever cooks, of course.

Anyway, back to the question in hand: why did we have the lean-to added on the building?  I think it looks pretty smart & makes a nice entrance to what will be my process rooms & the plant room; however, it doesn’t contain a vast amount of usable space so was a bit of an expensive – albeit, necessary – add-on.

But it was added on, for a good & valid reason.  When we originally asked for a specific size of building – 20x20m – we were told it couldn’t be done in timber; so Tony scratched his head & came up with the idea of the lean-to; which we were advised, was do-able.  And so, apparently faced with no alternative, we did it.

However today, Alan plonks down his mug, takes out his tape measure & thoughtfully reels out a humungous spool of centimetres, pausing once he’s taken a fair few goodly paces back. 

“You could’ve had this length of building, only out as far as ‘ere”, he tells me, snapping the measure back onto its spool with a flourish.  I’m flummoxed.  “Oh yes, we do a 45ft span; & on the length of building you’ve got, it would’ve been much easier to build that way  than by putting on that piddly little lean-to; & you’d have had loads more room to boot.”  Judging by the fact that this new, expansive width would have engulfed the current structure, it’s painfully apparent that he’s right.

“Ah, but it would’ve cost loads more, we could never have afforded it.”  I console myself with the observation. 

“Nah, would’ve ‘bin about the same price…..”  Alan sets his woolly hat to a more jaunty angle, & creaks up the ladder with an impish grin.  he knows, I’m sure, that I really didn’t need to be given this information now that the building is, literally, set in stone.

Three o’clock in the afternoon; & having already furnished the guys with steaming bowls of hot homemade leek, potato & ham soup with thankfully no more unwanted revelations over lunch, I toddle out again to the on-site team of two, carrying another tray laden with tea, coffee, & biscuits. 

This time John – himself a farmer when he’s not erecting these beautiful buildings – chats to me about the project, & about our foray into dairy farming.  I mention the cost of equipment, & some of the difficulties we’ve had in sourcing it.  For example, we need a bulk milk tank; but finding one which is not too big, is proving a challenge. 

“Oh, no – we got rid of a 100-gallon tank off our farm, only the other week,” he groans.  “It was in perfect ‘nick’, as well; fully lined, with an agitator, motor – the lot.  I took a circular saw to it, removed the liner & sold the metal for scrap ‘coz I didn’t think I’d be able to sell one so small these days.” 


Aren’t circumstances just great?  If only we’d been advised that whilst the original building we’d asked for was too big overall, if we’d simply shortened the length but increased the width for a bit of extra cost, the volume of the building would have been so much larger we wouldn’t have had the worry we already do, of having to extend it in the near future with additional, equally narrow bays & yet more ‘bolt-ons’. 

And if the planners hadn’t let us down with the Permitted Development Rights fiasco in the first place; & the groundworks excavation machinery hadn’t languished, broken & in pieces in our barn for the best part of a month, the on-site construction team would have been here weeks ago; & we could’ve bought a nice little bulk tank, perfect for our needs.

And the goats would already be tucked up in their new accommodation, not bursting at the seams both in physical & literal terms, as we await the arrival of the first of kids of 2008…..

Sometimes, I think I’d better just put my fingers in my ears.  La-la-la-la-laaaah…..aaargh.


About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Business, Dairy, Diary, Farming, February 2008, Goats, Life, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

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