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Mostly Fred

It hasn't been a terribly productive week, for all sorts of reason. The chief reasons being preparing for Fred, getting Fred, and ever since, being distracted by Fred.

Fred being our 8 week old German Shepherd puppy, who grumbles a lot, and when awake takes delight in 're-locating' anything shoe-shape.

Dexter (the Collie) and Fred are clearly going to be best friends, or more likely 'partners in crime'. They get on brilliantly already, and are quite clearly on a similar wave-length. Tallie on the other hand is not tolerant of any new arrival, and, as she did when Dexter arrived, gives the new boy grief if he gets anywhere near her. She is starting a tolerate 'it' a few days in, but won't be on 'buddy' terms for a while yet.

In Other News

We knew of a couple of major expenses when taking on the place, which we would need to get done properly. We have a barn roof resembling Swiss Cheese which needs replacing (and we are both useless with heights), and the house electrics are an eclectic mix. We got a quote from a local firm to address these two priority jobs, as we can't sort other bits until these are fixed.

Work started on these this week, and at one point I thought the answer to our problems was to 'dig a moat'

It turns out this was just to bury some electric cables, which currently are swinging from tree to tree in order to reach some of the outbuildings. It's dirty and expensive work, but if it gives us reliable lighting and power in all the right places, it makes sense to get it all done now.

Hopefully they will be back to start on the barn roof next week. Once we get that sorted we can give serious attention to sorting out the accommodation and facilities in the barn. They are also going to review all the internal electrics, because they are rather 'temperamental'. Will be nice not having to pray every time you flick a switch.

Learning the Ropes

Thanks to a leaving present from my work colleagues, I was able to book a couple of animal husbandry courses at Humble by Nature. I went on the first of these courses on Saturday, getting a general introduction to Smallholding for Beginners. It was an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded people, to pick up hints and tips from people who have done it all before, and to get hands-on experience of a number of farm animals. It was a great day out, made especially good by everyone at the farm being approachable, helpful and knowledgeable. I have a second course booked in a few weeks, that is focused on pig keeping - I'm already looking forward to a return visit.

The tutor Liz Shankland had got a new puppy the day before, so had to bring him to work - what a shame it was having to meet Iolo, an 8 week old Newfoundland.

Boys Toys

Having spent a few days getting to know one of my new 'toys', cutting up the remains a two trees that we had felled last week with a chainsaw (such fun!), I turned my attention back to another 'toy' that had been left in the garage by the previous owner.

I had tried a week or two ago to get an old ride-on lawnmower working and failed. But having barrowed a few loads of logs from the top of the garden to the log-store, I decided it was worth trying again.

This time, I decided to try jumping it off the 4x4. Success - it sputtered into life, and after belching out masses of smoke, it settled down to a noisy idle. We had a potter round the garden and veg plot, and then I decided to take it into the field and 'open the throttle'!

Having reached the top of the field (eventually), I turned back towards the gate and decided to see what would happen if I turned the cutters on (which I had been told were broken by the previous owners). What happened was a horrendous noise and promptly stalled engine (which probably saved it from permanent damage).

Having disengaged everything, I then discovered the battery had not charged at all, so we now had a dead tractor in the middle of the field.

After a quick RTFM, I did find out how to disengage the automatic drive, which allowed us to push the thing back to the yard. Where it got jump-started again, and got half way up the field before it ran out of petrol!

Having pushed it back again, I gave up on it and bought a new battery. I also removed the cutters so I didn't engage them again by accident. This also reduces the weight a lot, which can only help. Ordered a box for the back so we can use it to transport stuff about.

Having looked at the removed cutter deck, it had a few dents and bends in the body-work which would be snagging the cutters when they were spinning. I took a 'persuader' to the cutting deck (in the form of a sledge hammer!) and I now think it will work again if needed. Will wait until we definitely need it though, in case it blows up when I try!

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