Thursday, 8 March 2012

Muck and Machines

Wednesday 7th March 2012                                   Thursday 8th March 2012
                                                                                  At last, a proper sunrise in March.

No, I have not bought an elephant!

Poo!
One thing about owning a horse is that you have to remove the poo from the paddock, otherwise the horses avoid grazing that area and the manure nourishes the growth of weeds and thistles. The good thing about this is that every few weeks or so I hook the trailer up and drive to a friends to load up carrier bags full of goodness. This stays in bags awhile where it starts heating up and rotting down. Then I have the not so lovely job of emptying all the bags so that the worms, fungi and bacteria can get on with the job of turning the pile into a vegetable's gourmet restaurant.
It's important to let it rot down properly, so that most of the weed seeds are killed. Also, if added to the soil too hastily, the bacteria actually deplete the soil of nitrogen, exactly the opposite of what is supposed to happen. Mixed with the straw from the pigs, it will add structure and goodness in equal measure.

Our soil is good to grow in, but is just a little more clay than I would ideally like. This means it can go rock hard when dry and cloggy when wet. Over the years, adding muck and compost will improve its structure, but for the moment there is often a crucial period when it becomes wonderfully friable and crumbly, a joy to work. The recent rain was most welcome, but means I need to wait till the weekend to work the soil.

Machines!!?**!?
Yesterday morning the weather was vile, so I decided to tackle the various machines I have to help me manage the garden. They have been away for the winter and need a little TLC before being brought back into service. 
Machines in general scare me. It takes a while for me to gain familiarity with them and trust them, and if anything goes wrong I'm pretty lost. When my new rotavator was delivered, there was a nut loose in the box. For this reason, I had been delaying assembling it, suspecting that at some point I would be left feeling helpless and hopeless. And indeed, that's what happened! It would have been easier to understand any of the dozen or so languages in the instruction manual rather than the attempt at translation into English! Further to this, the photo I needed seemed to be taken with a pinhole camera in the dark! With some advice from a visiting farmer, I connected the leads and levers, but still things did not seem right. So I called upon good old Don next door, who as ever was happy to help. All seems OK now, so hopefully when I add oil and petrol I can prepare my veg beds at the weekend. And I understand machines just a little bit more than I did before.
I also managed to figure out how to charge up the mower battery. Again, all seems good, but I'll leave it till the weekend to try out. The grass has never really stopped growing and has put on a spurt in the last couple of weeks. As soon as it's dry enough it can have its first mow. This should also encourage the geese to graze, rather than devouring all my wheat and neglecting their lawn mowing duties.

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