Hay stops play!

As people who’ve read this blog from the beginning may remember, I didn’t actually buy a house, I bought two croft tenancies which just happen to have a house on them.  This means that I also have 12 acres of fields to look after and since we hit a rare window of settled good weather, all work on the house ground to a halt and I have literally been making hay while the sun shines 🙂

Pete and his crew came and took the scaffolding away and I wrote them a final cheque.  I have spent a smidge under £19,350 for the new roof, , replacement Velux windows, guttering, work on the chimneys and stonework and tanking inside, but we’ve been getting a lot of compliments on the finished article and I think it’s worth every penny.  Yes, we could have patched up the existing roof and it would probably have been fine for a couple more years, but the idea is that we’re setting up this house to last for decades with minimal expenses required, so getting it wind and watertight and damp-proof is important.

156 armadale - outside - 35 156 armadale - outside - 36 156 armadale - outside - 37 156 armadale - outside - 34

I also took myself off to the local mart for a morning and came home with some new tenants for my fields – 12 of these:

lamb4 lamb5 lamb6

They’ve now been introduced to the three pet ewes I took on last October and flock integration seems to be going well .  Here are all 15 of them:

sheep and lambs

But this last week has been all about the hay.  I’ve helped out neighbours on baling day before, but never gone through the whole process of deciding when to cut, turn, etc., so I was fortunate that Ethel’s former partner, John (they were together for 25 years and were engaged but never married), has taken an interest in what’s going on at the house and has been making hay for the best part of his 72 years.  The two fields round the house lay on the ground for a couple of weeks getting rained on, because I called the cut a bit early, but we left it unturned and it’s made okay hay, if a bit lacking in nutrients.  Here’s John baling up the last strip using my bargain £300 baler (Mick and I have learned more about the mechanics of an International B47 square baler in the last month than you can imagine!):

hay making 1

When I saw last week’s heatwave coming in, I called John again and asked him to cut the field on the point:

haymaking 2

Went down each night to check how it was drying, but got distracted by the sunset:


After a nail-biting day of unexpected fog, which totally soaked it, we got sun and a good drying wind and went for it – we probably lost about 20 bales as it flew off the point and John’s tractor had a small fire, but it was a beautiful day for it and we were still smiling at the end, although when I took the selfie with John I didn’t realise that it would take Mick, me and another neighbour another 6 hours to take all the bales off the field and up to the byres.

armadale bay end of baling

We ended up getting 138 bales off the two fields by the house and a massive 305 bales from the field on the point.  I only need about 100 to get me through winter, so I’ve bartered 80 with the neighbour who helped us bring the hay in for her 4 hours of physical labour plus horse and sheep sitting while we’re on holiday next month and will have some left to sell, which will be my first income from the house!  They’re all stacked in the biggest byre (the barn) and I now need to get the back window boarded up before it rains too hard!

Next week things should get moving again.  ERG are coming on Thursday and Friday to put the new windows and front door in, which means we have to take the plasterboard off around the front door that we’d left because the electricity meter used to be on it, and also put some chipboard down over the loose floorboards upstairs, as I don’t want a window installer going through the living room or kitchen ceiling.  Hopefully Mick and I should make a start on getting the insulation fitted as well, and things will start moving forwards again.


A plague on both your houses!

I got a call from Dougie the electrician yesterday.  “Sorry I haven’t been up this week,” he said.  “I’ve managed to catch ringworm and I’m trying not to go near people as I’m very contagious.”  He’ll be back with us next week, but in the meantime he’s been talking me through filling out the online SSE form to get someone out to have a look at the house and tell me how much it’s going to cost to move the incoming power cable and the meter.  All submitted and they should get back to me in three working days, so fingers crossed it’s not going to be too expensive.  Dougie did get a fair bit done last week, we have another couple of holes in the house, one in the living room where the power cable will go out for a switch for the two floodlights that will illuminate the sheep fanks and one where the new mains power will come in.  The current one is only hanging on by the skin of its teeth!

156 armadale - living room - 13 156 armadale - bedroom two - 11 156 armadale - outside - 21

Actually, it’s no bad thing that he’s not here, because he really needs an accurate drawing of the kitchen units and it hasn’t been done yet.  Mick has a colleague at work who used to work for a kitchen company and still has the design software, so she’s very kindly doing it for us (I’ve asked him to find out what kind of cake she likes!).  David’s also been back working on his neighbour’s extension, so it’s just been Pete and his team working on the roof.

The sarking boards are all replaced where necessary and the slates are now going on.  James has set up a small slate-cutting workshop in the kitchen to hand-cut all the scalloped slates for the ridge row and the patterns.

156 armadale - roof - 1 156 armadale - roof - 2 156 armadale - roof - 3

David realised he hadn’t asked us for enough wood, so the Rembrand lorry came trundling over with another 30 lengths and the guys now have a nice bench to sit and have lunch on.

156 armadale - kitchen - 21

There are some replacement floorboards on the way from Allans of Gillock as well, but they’ve been a bit delayed due to the county show last weekend throwing out their delivery schedule.

Tomorrow I have to turn my attention to the fields again – we are forecast dry weather from tomorrow until Sunday afternoon, so John Angy and his tractor are coming up tomorrow afternoon to cut this little lot for me and hopefully we’ll get it turned on Friday and Saturday and baled on Sunday.  That’s the plan, anyway, let’s hope the weather gods are kind!  It also means I have until Sunday to clear enough space in the byres to store the baled hay with enough air around it for it not to combust and go up in flames.  I suspect I’m in for some hard physical labour for the rest of the week!