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Aims and Objectives

This week: Aims and objectives; WANTED: A little digger; Chaining; Pathwork progress; Spring is underway;

A controlled burn on the edge of the Maquis
A controlled burn on the edge of the Maquis

This week we have had brilliant weather every day.

There has been warm, unbroken sunshine and the temperature has been just right for working.

The average temperatures for the first two months of 2021 have been slightly below the long term average and we are slightly above the average for rainfall.

Feb 2021 Temps
Feb 2021 average temperatures

If you don’t have any work to do, sun bathing would be the order of the day!

Sunbathing
Pongo and Tigger sunbathing


Aims and Objectives

A forty year career in public service has taught me a lot!

There were all those useful and some useless management courses I went on, for example.

Years of training does mean that I understand ‘Management Speak’ terms. This is especially so when the are used incorrectly, so I try not to fall into that trap.

This week I’ve been thinking about my aims and objectives for the month.

But first some definitions: the Aim = what you hope to achieve; the Objective = the action(s) you will take in order to achieve the aim.

Aims are statements of intent.… Objectives, on the other hand, should be specific statements that define measurable outcomes, for example what steps will be taken to achieve the desired outcome.

So at the start of the week, my aim is to clear this area of the old fold yard then build a small storage shed, which I know will take more than a week.

The aim
The aim is to clear this area in March

Meanwhile, my objective is to dig out and recover as much of the soil as I can from the path around the workshop, to make the above area level and usable.

Week 9's objective
Week nine’s objective – just dig out and riddle this area

The soil will level the area where the shed will go and my first objective is to move the small boulders out of the way first.

Spoiler Alert! This is what this area looked like before and after.

2015 old wall2021 The finished flower bed


WANTED: A small digger

I’ve been looking for a Komatsu, which would help speed the work up. Nothing too large you understand of course, perhaps a PC450…

Komatsu PC450
Komatsu PC450

Except that it wouldn’t fit in the courtyard.

The courtyard is barely wide enough to swing a cat – not that I would ever do that of course, but it gives you an idea of the space. Anyway, the old saying refers to the cat-o-nine tails, not a feline with nine lives.

Komatsu is a good make, and they make lots of excavators in every conceivable size.

At the other end of the scale is the PC01, a micro machine that is about the size of a ride on lawnmower.

The PC01 would be an ideal garden machine, but they are no longer made, so I have been searching for something similar.

Ride on PC01 excavator
Ride-on PC01 excavator

Whilst a PC01 would be useful and I like the colour, I think I may actually need something a little larger because of the amount of stone I need to move, and yes companies do make them.

So until I find my ideal home excavator, I am doing (almost) everything by hand.


Chaining

I needed to move the last of the very large stones this week (my first objective), but to get them to move I have had to be inventive.

Brute force and leverage will generally get a stone moving for me. But those weighing over 500 kilograms I have just left where they were.

These are the last of the huge stones that I dismantled from the old stables and out outhouses.

They have been pretty much where I left them as I salvaged them, because they are just too big to move more than once.

I know what I want to use them for, but am not ready to start work in that area just yet.

However the work I am doing at the moment in the old fold yard requires that they are moved generally in the direction of where they will eventually finish up.

I started the week by finishing the top of the right hand drystone wall.

Monday drystone walling
Monday – drystone walling

The infill between the stones used up several buckets of small stones that were riddled out of the soil.

The finished corner
The finished corner

This wall will extend up to my boundary to the north and the big stones will form the bottom layers of of the extended wall.

Wall extension
The wall extension will continue the curve

However there is the small matter of years of rubble and rubbish to be moved first. This is under the two leafless fig trees.

Some of these stones I estimate, based on their size, weigh over 600 kilogrames, so they are not the sort of things that you just pick up and move.

I spent one afternoon with two lengths of chain and a 1½ tonne hand winch, pulling a chunk of rock, gently up slope and out of my way.

Chain and hand winch
Chain and hand winch

It took several tries to get the stone moving on wooden rollers, because the chains kept slipping on the rock.

Slowly does it
Slowly does it – moving large, heavy stones

But with perseverance and some adjustment, I was able to move the hulk to where I wanted it.

There is another monolith which received the same treatment on Friday afternoon.

I connected one length of chain around a thick bough on the old fig tree, the second length was wrapped around the stone block and I put the hand winch in between.

Friday afternoon movement
Friday afternoon movement

With some deft movements so the block didn’t catch the coner of the building, I moved it as far out of the way as I could, knowing that eventually it will have to go back in the other direction.

These old pieces of lifting equipment are not tools that I use very often, but when I need them, they most certainly come in very handy.


Pathwork progress

With glorious sunny days, I’ve been able to dig out and riddle a couple of cubic meters of soil from the path around the outside of the workshop.

Even 60 centimetres under the old fold yard’s surface there are large stones which have to be removed by hand.

I do not understand the geological forces that have created soils which are comprised of 50% stone, even down to a depth of more than a half meter.

The work takes time because I have to keep stopping to remove stones before I can dump a shovel into the rotary riddle. The machine is still a lot easier than riddling the soil by hand though.

In the middle of the week I moved the rotary riddle close to the steps down into the orchard and started to work back towards the path around the building.

Moving the riddle
Moving the riddle to make space

I’d decided that this would be the most effective way to finish the project this week.

The reason was that there is a metre long piece of stone which I wanted to use as a step and that I only want to move once.

However by the weekend, I realised that the stone would be better used elsewhere, so I changed my plan.

When I built the steps down into the orchard, I also included a 75mm drain pipe, to remove gutter rain water and take it down into the orchard where it will be useful. I then sealed and covered it for later when I was ready to make the physical connection.

Previously laid drain
Previously laid drain

Digging out this portion of the path, I uncovered the pipe and then extended it, under the path extension and towards the corner of the workshop building.

I did have to nip into town to buy come additional pipe joints from Volat though.

Pipe extension
Pipe extension

Laying the pipe requires some thought and planning. I have included a rodding eye, so sometime in the future, should there ever be a blockage I can get drain rods into the pipe.

This part of the path will be white stones, like the ones I have laid in the orchard, but topped and tailed with large stones at either end, to keep the small pebbles in place.

By the end of the week, I’ve done most of what I had intended.

Saturday afternoon progress
Saturday afternoon progress

The old fold yard has 30 cm layer of rich, dark soil before the lighter clay and sandstone loam subsoil layer, so it has been easy to dig out and riddle.

Clear layers of soil
Clear layers of soil

I have now carefully backfilled where the path will go, creating a firm foundation with large stones, followed by a layer of the finely riddled stones on top, all tamped down to make it a firm surface.

This surface will be covered with a plastic membrane to prevent weeds growing through the stones, and will then have a layer of nice white pebbles to walk on.


Spring is now well underway

Everything is growing like mad, but spring is a time of year that I always enjoy. This is because there are changes to be seen almost every day.

At the micro scale, I have Cyclamen in flower in the bed outside the kitchen window.

Cyclamen flowers
Cyclamen flowers

Whilst in the Drupe orchard, my two Apricot trees are covered in blossom.

Apricot blossom
Apricot blossom

Last year they hardly had any fruit at all. This year I may have to thin fruit out on some of the small branches.

The Myrobalan plum which was in full blossom last week, is now well into leaf. The blossom petals are raining down like pink confetti.

Myrobalan plum first blossomMyrobalan plum leaves

This tree has leaves which are bronze in colour, which is unusual for a plum tree.

The fig tree is sprouting this summer’s fruits. Leaf buds are pointed and the fruit buds are the circular nodes close to each leaf.

Fig spur
Fig spur

I try to adheres to the principles of good garden design, with nice viewing angles and architectural specimen plants.

I have several Japanese Maple trees, but this one in particular I like because of it’s striking leaf colours of orange and yellow. It is Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’

Acer Orange Dream
Acer Orange Dream

As the buds burst they look like small flames in the spring sunshine. NCG


3 Responses

  1. Bill
    | Reply

    Thanks as always, Norman. Fascinating to see your massive (and growing) collection of ‘gear’!

    I was wondering what javascript you used to create the image cross-sliders? I am aware of Juxtapose JS, but I think this is different.

    Best regards

    Bill

  2. HYDER
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing Norman. Brilliant work and thoughts.

    Keep doing

  3. Michael
    | Reply

    Norman,
    I’m struck by the thought that there may be a business opportunity on Hvar in mini-excavator hire! They’re wonderfully useful, especially if you have to move anything more than a cubic metre of spoil, and dare I say, great fun to operate. My duff back gives me ample reason to hire one to turn and outload our multi-ton garden compost production.

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