Saturday, 17 May 2008

It's all go on the Croft

It's all go on the Croft at the moment.
The weather has been absolutely tremendous for the past three weeks.
We decided to turn over the ground behind the caravan instead of the front this year and planted potato's and carrots, already the early potato leaves are popping through.
We have split the lazy beds into three sections and sowed a few beds of potato's a week to ten days apart, to give a longer productive season.
We have been trying to locate the old clay drainage pipes that my husbands father put down about 50 years ago, some of them have been blocked, we can tell this by the amount of water that is sitting on the surface of the land, also because they are orange clay pipes in some cases you can actually see and orange coloured silt that is pushed up to the surface because the drains are blocked.
Well knowing a pipe is there or there abouts is one thing but finding it is another.
The field in the front of the house has been excavated over the past year trying to locate the clay pipes.
It is important to open the bottom field drains first, so when we open the back top field drains the water will run freely out to the burns at the end of the bottom field.
So eventually we found all of the drains on the bottom field, it takes a lot of time an patience.
We do it the old fashioned way, which is with a long thin steel probe with a pointed end and a T handle at the other, a hand shovel and a fencing shoveler.
Once you have a rough idea where you think the pipe is you push the probe down into the ground pointed end first of course, our ground is quiet peaty so it is not as hard to pull the probe back out, you keep prodding around in a left to right movement each prod 2" apart until you here that distinctive metal against stone noise.
This is when the hard work starts, we dig a hole down to the pipe, my husbands father put down 1 leader pipe with 8 chains to it in the bottom field alone, all placed 4 foot below the ground, so you can imagine how much earth had to be dug out to get to each of these chain pipes.
Once we dug a large enough hole to get into, the pipe is separated and opened up, we push an plastic pipe up the way and down the way to clear out the dirt and silt.
Sometimes the plastic pipe gets stuck and will not go any further down the clay pipe however hard you push and pull, so it is out of the hole and locate the clay pipe further down the field and dig out another hole and repeat the process all over again.
Well we managed to clear all of the pipes in the bottom field, now we have to sort out the back top field, we have already started this and opened up 2 chains, as this is a larger field we expect to find a lot more chains here.
A leader pipe is about 6" internal diameter which goes across the field diagonally from one corner to the other, the chain clay pipes are approx 2" internally which come down from the top field and are attached to the larger leader, my husband's father appears to have put all of the chain pipes at 15 paces apart, which makes it a little easier to find the approximate area of the next chain clay pipe.
To think he did all of these fields with just a shovel, no modern diggers in these days.
As they say in the Highlands he was a hardy man.
We cannot use a digger on the field as it would get bogged down and make to much of a a mess, so we have to do it the hard way too.
We have also taken advantage of this dry weather and stared to harvest the peat for the winter fuel, because it has been really dry, we have managed to store some of it already, My husbands father dug the peat fields right up until he was 87 years of age, which I think was a great achievement for anyone to do.
I never met my father in law as he died before a came here, but I have heard stories about him.
He was a strong character and worked hard all of his life, he was also a fencer as is my husband.
We have also sheared our flock of sheep and clipped their hooves, dosed them tagged the lambs ears and docked their tails.
I hate docking the tails, I feel so sorry for the poor lambs they give a little whimper when you do it, I do prefer to dock them rather than put a rubber ring on them and wait for the tail end to drop off, this must be even more painful for them, as some of you may know what it is like to put an elastic band say on your finger and leave it for a while how much pain would you feel if you could not take it off.
I have lots of other bits to add to this but I will do it when I have a little more time, I have added a photo of my husbands father scything the land with the peat stacks behind him.
Known locally as Alec Creag Mhor he was 87 years of age when this photograph was taken.




1 comment:

Simon Lee said...

Hi Anne

A fascinating account - keep it up! You may laugh, but when I was an archaeologist we used to have to locate field drains and one of the best methods was to use a water diviner! No really - it often worked (and sometimes didn't). There's nothing special about water diviners - some people can and some can't - you might be one of the lucky ones.

I laughed at your choice of favourite books - I loved them once but got bored after Plains of Passage.

Good luck in your adventures!

Simon