The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Divide and conquer. Well actually wrecking to rebuild the same!

The tile crate that has been sitting on our drive for nearly two years

The tile crate that has been sitting on our drive for nearly two years

Next week two square metres of rich Fenland soil is being delivered from Madingley Mulch. Some of this will fill a couple of new raised beds that we are going to set in front of the cottage. The rest will be a tonic for a particularly stony and dry herbaceous border.

I bartered decorating work for the raised bed wood about two years ago. The wood is substantial – roofing joists from years ago when wood was a very different animal than wood is today.  I also acquired some oak stakes at the same time to keep everything in place.

I haven’t had the energy to organise even the delivery of the wood until now. But last week with a whiff of summer in the air and a delivery of Maras de Bois strawberry plants from Otter Farm my blood was racing.

I jumped in and ordered the soil and began to make plans regarding The Clearing of The Front Drive. This is a big job.

The cars are the attractive bit – even Jalopy under her chic grey cover. The rest is a bit of a disgrace. Stacks of compost and soil amendments. Empty potato planters from last year. Hundreds of plastic pots – stacked inside a giant pot for a rainy day. A huge heap of ivy that I ripped off a fence that refuses point blank to break down. I tried shredding it and even the shredder coughed it back up at me, barely chewed.

And there’s Danny’s Pile. Covered in builder’s plastic which is held down with various odds and sods that he’s found floating about in the front. Useful bits of wood and stuff that I’ve rescued from skips.

The worst offender on the drive is the hefty crate in the photo above. Purloined just before I got ill in July 2009. I’m ashamed to say that it has been hunched on the drive ever since then. The plan was to use it as a frame for a new chicken house. The builder who valiantly delivered it must have been a descendant of Samson. He lifted it out of his van and set it on the drive as if it was made of gossamer.

If I take a longish run and throw myself at it full pelt it doesn’t move. This will eventually probably be the strongest chicken hotel and spa in the history of chickenkind.

The only way to move the crate is to dismantle it, carry it down to the chicken run and rebuild the new mansion on site. And this is just the frame.

Today was the dismantling day. I was amazed that I hadn’t got a crowbar to hand amongst the lorry load of tools that I inherited from my Aunt Pickles. So this morning I stepped into Homebase (15% off this weekend) and tried the range for size and ease of movement. This cleared the section in a trice! Medium size was perfect. Always test out tools in the shop for size and weight. A tool is designed to help you, give you added oomph and each one has a different feel and balance. No tool is the same.

Having selected the perfect crow bar for me, I moved on, crowbar in hand to examine the club hammers. I discovered that I was happily alone, within seconds, to test out the most comfortable grip and weight for me. The cheapest one ticked all the boxes. Both tools cost under £16.00. A result as I was expecting to have to invest more. Tools are for life -ish.

This afternoon I worked on the sturdy crate. Gently removing each piece with ease – oh the joy of a crowbar! The pieces were marked for future reference and the rebuild. The crate is down to the base and I can actually move this. I’m planning to construct the new chicken residence in ‘flat pack format’ on the front drive. I’ll be able to treat this new build with preservative and paint without the hens getting their feathers covered in gloop. Then I’ll drag everything down to the run and assemble it. At the moment this sounds easy peasy – but sometimes things don’t work out quite how I imagine…

Watch this space.

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1 Comment

  1. Sun does have this scary effect doesn’t it? Suddenly those things lurking hugely in the drive become removable.I’m eyeing up the dip in the ground by my shed at the back and the big builder’s bag of hardcore at the front..surely it isn’t an impossible task?

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