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:

20160816_212412

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.

 

Diary of a wannabe house hoarder

My name’s Caroline and I’m a house hoarder.

Well, not yet I’m not, as at the moment I only own the one house, but I’ve had an offer verbally accepted on another which means I’m hopefully at the start of a long-held ambition to make a living out of buying, renovating and renting houses.

Of course, this would be significantly more straightforward if I still lived in Bristol (or Reading or Cambridge or Croydon, where I’ve also lived), but no, I had to wait to get cracking with this until I’d moved to one of the more remote places on the UK mainland – I live on the north coast of Scotland, 26 miles from the nearest town, nearly 100 miles from the nearest town with what you might call a normal high street.  Slap bang on the edge of nowhere.

It’s undeniably a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful place to live, but the housing market is slow-moving and flat, the rental market is virtually non-existent and it’s quite common for a house to take one or two years (or even longer) to sell.

So this experiment of mine could quite possibly go horribly, hideously wrong.  Grab some popcorn, get comfy on the sofa and come and join me as I find out whether my long-held dream is going to turn into a nightmare!