Monday, 31 March 2008

Ray of sunshine

Going from the driveway to the paddock was never an easy thing, at least not with the roughly made wire 'gate' that was there to torture you as you tried to fix it securely with some string, a hook and a prayer!

A new gate was needed, so I set about finding some timber in my shed to make a quick simple thing with a bit of chicken wire on to stop the chickens escaping again (more on this later). I knew I had to make it quick and not to spend much time on it, as I had many other things to do that were a bit more important. The gate was made, very simply as just a square, but then I looked at it and wondered if it was finished, which it wasn't really, so i stuck a couple more cut timbers in and VOILA! It was finished!

The main reason for wanting to make the paddock secure with the fencing is because very soon after the house became ours, one of the chickens escaped through the wider wire fencing that was there originally!

Queenie (named later after Steve McQueen) managed to get through the wire holes and get between the fence and the large hedge running along the roadside. After attempts to woo her with delicious pellets failed, and the threats to stick her in a pot didn't have any effect, I decided more drastic, pro-active measures were needed.
After a quick survey of the state of the hedge and possible ambush points, I grabbed the nearest solid looking long stick and started to gentley herd Queenie towards my parents, who had popped over to see the place, and Jo. At first the plan worked - Queenie slowly moved towards the group of people, but then, just as I thought I was able to reach through a hole in the hedge and grab her, she turned in the opposite direction and clucked her way towards the road.
Now my mind was racing.... could I save her from a horrible squashy death? Would she sanely climb back through the hole in the fencing? I had no time to even think of possible answers as she stepped into a slight clear patch of hedge... thinking not of my own safety or of possible consequences I dove into the hedge, arms outstretched in a cricket style sideways leap and put my hands perfectly round Queenie, holding her wings tight to her body!!

Now then.....
....what I obviously hadn't done, was to look before I leaped - a saying possibly made centuries ago JUST for this occassion. Once the initial adrenaline and excitement of catching Queenie has passed, I then had the horrible realisation of where I was.
I don't think the pain set in immediately, but as I scrambled around on my back holding Queenie above me, I realised I had dived like an idiot into a well established thorn bush of pain! Wishing my forearms were coated with a thick layer of teflon body armour, I started the long process of trying to stand up as my first priority (think tortoise on it's back holding a chicken), and then to try to pull the twisted, thorny mass off my skin.

The pain was soon gone, but the scars remained for a GOOD few days, so at least for that week, the school gate club was (I'm sure) totally spellbound and enthralled by my stories of heroism.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

The dream continues!

One thing I have neglected to mention so far was the fact that the property has a very large lawn, and to mow this lawn the previous owners had a very large mower.

In fact is wasn't so much a mower, as it was a small tractor!

After speaking to the previous owners, and finding out they weren't able to take it up to Scotland, we managed to come to a deal which then made it MY mower.

Oh yes.... I had a tractor!

That's me trying it out in our paddock. Is it fair that one man have so much fun!?

Chicken surprise.

There was another bonus that came with the property (although at first I certainly didn't see it as a bonus) which was chickens.

Now all I saw when I looked at the corner of the paddock was a wire box with horrible scratchy, smelly, NOISY chickens.

My wife Jo fell in love with them, making a string of approving sounds such as "awwww" and "oh lovely". I WASN'T so keen, knowing full well (like with previous examples of pets of kept animals) that it would be me trudging out to look after them, feed them, water them, clear them out and generally keep them after her initial enthusiasm of throwing a few food pellets through the wire had worn off.

To cut an extremely long story short (and indeed, cutting out a lot of detail that would take me pages - and days to write) we managed to get the property, and all the other boring processes had begun, like planning applications and other legal whatnots.

One thing I knew I had to do was to finish the fine job of putting up a chicken wire (or as we country outsidey folk say - rabbit fencing) fence around the entire paddock that the previous owner had started. The other job I just HAD to do was to make a new gate/door for the chicken run, because the old one was completely rotten, the hinges rusted up and it was generally falling apart.

Suddenly I realised that I was actually able to do it myself (I did an apprenticeship in Carpentry and Joinery when i was 16) so I went to work making a new door, which actually turned out to be really good fun and looked the part too - which was a bonus.

This gave me a little boost, and I started to think of other jobs I was able to do. I carried on with the fencing - getting materials very cheaply from builders merchants I had either managed or worked at in the past - at last all those days of putting things on shelves, shuffling paper and getting it in the ear from moany employees was starting to pay off!!

It has to start somewhere....

Well I guess there has to be ONE first post, so this may as well be it!

When we decided to move, I was extremely excited - I mean like schoolboy excited - in my own head I had already built my 'super shed' and fitted it with the most up to date power tools, gadgets, made a workshop for my motorbikes and set up a bar in the corner for my new found friends from my sons school gate club (men only of course!).

The reality of the move started to take it's toll though, as one after another the property information sheets started to drip through our letterbox.

It wasn't as if we didn't know what we wanted, because we did - we wanted a bungalow close to where we live that had a large garden so we could build maybe an outside office, or that had potential to extend, so at last we could have enough room for all our stuff. The main reason for needing this space was to give our oldest son his own space, and to allow us to get all the equipment he needs. (Zak is 17 has Cerebral Palsy, is in a chair and is brilliant at IT - think Stephen Hawking).

We had wondered if such a place existed in our local area, but we had seen a VERY nice place up North near to where my wife had been born which had made us think very carefully whether we should stay down South or up sticks and make a new start.

We had become really deflated, and did wonder if we were asking too much.....

....UNTIL one day my wife saw this property on a website that made her jump up and get very excited!

This property was a 1930'2 bungalow, had been extended to allow the owners mother to live in an annexe with a separate entrance, AND came with approx 1.5 acres of land!! The best bit about the property though was that it was literally at the other end of the village we live in - so our youngest son would still be able to go to the same school.

We phoned up the estate agents and pretty much went straight round there, fell in love with the place and just KNEW we had to live there. The property had good potential for further extending which meant that not only did Zak have his own batchelor flat that could be optimised for him, there was enough room for Kane to have his own bedroom and playroom, Jo had space for her crafting......

......and I had my very own 10'x20' nice, dry, accessible SHED!