Breaking Ground and Raising Beds
It’s not long to go until we’ve been the owners for FAoI for exactly one year. How time flies when you have a list of jobs as long as your longest arm. When we arrived here it was amid an ocean of optimism. The land was great, the outbuildings added promise, and the location was top notch. The downside? The house was tired, dull, beige to the very limit of total beigeness. Therefore it took some degree of promises from my good self for Mrs IG to accept the choice.
There were other houses in a better state of decoration, but the land and outbuilding situation of FAoI was not equalled. Mrs IG saw 5-6 acres at these other places and a ramshackle stable or barn and figured that was good enough for me. However, I wanted land with character and FAoI had that in spades. I wanted a selection of usable building and FAoI had those too. Mrs IG, however, saw interiors that were not beige, kitchens and bathrooms that were not from the 1960s and water that was hot.
So, the bulk of year one was spent focusing on the interior. The ancient kitchen and pokey dining room have been transformed from a 1960s sea of dark wood and misery to a bright and open kitchen dining room hybrid type affair. The old people’s home style hallway has been modernised. Multifunctional modern fitted bedroom furniture has gone in. The fake external shutters have been removed. The terrible 1960s artificial electric fire and surround has been ditched for a woodburner, and the hot water debacle has been sorted with the installation of a combination boiler set-up (despite the so-called expert from British Gas who lied through his teeth to try and con us into buying an inferior but far more costly solution insisting such an option was impossible).
There was also a period of adjustment. I had to understand a bit about FAoI. There was wildlife, woods, water, lawns, fields and an orchard. I ended up trying to do a thousand things and getting none of them right (or finished). I managed to grow a few sweetcorn and that was about it. My globe artichokes went in too late to flower, the squash went in too late to ripen, and the onions just went dormant. On the plus side, I ended up with 50 gallons of pear and apple juice!
The plan for 2017 includes replacing both bathrooms, putting in a porch/boot room type affair, and getting the veg beds sorted. The original idea was to locate these in the back field, but now the most likely location seems to be the defunct wild flower meadow. It’s defunct because I inadvertently mowed over it when we first arrived and that seems to have screwed up its balance. Anyway, it wasn’t really wild; the previous owner, Mr and Mrs Beige, ‘created’it.
In my idiocy I have reverted to type and opted for raised beds. One thing I realised last year was that if you’re surrounded by open fields, all manner of seeds and shit blow around, and keeping a bed clear is a lot of back-breaking work. Being a lazy sod with a dodgy back, I found myself hankering after the simplicity of fuck-off big raised beds, so a timber order is imminent.
Also, it’s amazing how much space is liberated when you attack it with the right tools. For my sins, I have been using a combination of an old John Deere garden tractor thing and a Pasquali two-wheeled tractor. The latter is like a rabid satan-fuelled motherlover and chews its way through anything (including two-year old trees as I found out by accident – no almonds for us any time soon).
The goal is to be ready for the last of the frosts; whether that happens or instead I get sidetracked by building an Argentinian grill remains to be seen!