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CAMPSITE

Now that the main season is over it is a case of doing maintenance and repairs on the campsite. I try to keep as much colour around the cabin as is possible during the whole year so have removed plants that have gone over and replaced them with some variegated varieties. (1). The cover to the chemical waste disposal unit started to fall apart after only 3 ½ years so we have a brand new one in its place. (2). One of the shower token boxes started to play up at the beginning of September. Occasionally it allowed a token through if you thumped it hard enough, but once the box was taken apart a token put in back to front with the grove facing the wrong way was the main problem. Once it had all been fixed the electrician advised that it was best to allow no more than two tokens through at once to avoid additional jamming, so that is another notice I will have to put up. (3)

FARM

The turkeys arrived after dark last week and took some persuading to come out of the trailer (4) Once down the ramp they made their way to their new home. (5). Now they are nicely settled into the polytunnel, not realizing their days are numbered. (6) We moved the young stock (last year’s calves) into what was the second campsite during August. In doing this we had to repair fences (7) otherwise they would have been tempted to jump into the ditch and break through the hedge. I had a contractor in to cut the hedges around the farm. It is necessary to cut the sides of all hedges (8). I always have all the roadside hedges cut on top as well. This year the contractor did the roadside verges too because the Council had not arrived in our area of Dorset to do the job. Crabbs Bluntshay has boundary hedges with three adjoining farms. I usually have these hedges cut half way across the top. I cut the tops of half the remaining hedges (9) to allow two years growth on the other half to benefit bird life with hawthorn, elderberry and wild rose hips etc, and bees with ivy.

It is a conservation dilemma to have to cut the sides of the hedges at this time of year because of blackberries etc which are food for wildlife, but because this area is clay if the cutting is left until the winter the fields may be so wet that the contractor cannot get on them. The deadline for cutting hedges is 28 February. A major job on the farm that has just been completed is the cementing of the floor of the covered yard where the animals will spend the winter. There was so much preparation to do for this. Firstly the area had to be levelled, and then road plainings spread to give it a firm base. (10, 11) Next shuttering had to be put down to mark the perimeter of where the cement was to be spread. (12) When the cement mixer arrived (13) the men had to control the spreading and worked very fast to make sure it was even and level to a depth of 5 inches. (14, 15, 16, 17). It was necessary to have a carpenter splice the door post of a tractor shed which was then reinforced with hardcore (18)

GEESE

At the moment there are four sets of geese in close proximity to each other. They have to be separated by wide fencing otherwise aggressive ganders will damage the necks of other geese (19). But the system isn’t foolproof as today the one eyed pensioner goose escaped her pen and was set upon by the group of 14 younger geese. There was much squawking which prompted me to rescue the poor bird before it was murdered.

GARDEN

I have had a good crop of pumpkins this year grown in my new raised garden. (20) They were all cut last week and stored in the wood bunker on slatted shelves to allow the air to circulate around them. I will only cover them with fleece if a very hard frost is due. I start selling them at Farmers’ Markets from the beginning of October for Halloween. (21) Any that aren’t sold before Christmas will be cut up and made into chutney and marmalade. The size of the pears this year has been amazing. They have to be processed before ripening otherwise they go brown in the middle. Pear and Ginger chutney is my fastest selling line. (22). The vine fell from the roof of the greenhouse being heavy with fruit and unpruned. (23) This broke the pane of glass put in earlier in the year. (24). The grapes are small but tasty. (25) Lawn mowing continues into October what with the rain and mild weather. (26)

LOCAL EVENTS

Mapperton House, near Beaminster has a Charity Specialist Plant Sale twice a year at which we are invited to have a market stall. In September the attendance was higher than usual because it was advertised in the national press. (27) This was due to the fact that the house and grounds are the film set for the new version of Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy. It was like stepping back a hundred years what with the thatched straw ricks set upon staddle stones (to stop the rats burrowing into the ricks) (28), a mangold clamp for storage (29), a winnower (an early type of thrashing machine) (30), horse drawn vehicles (31), a sheep wash (32) and spar gads made from coppiced hazel (used for thatching corn ricks). (33) It was a pity that the 21st century was nearly always present.

A local couple from Salwayash won the Melplash Show cup for the best Medium Sized garden in August along with being the Best Overall Garden. It was very neat, colourful and not a weed in sight. (34, 35, 36)

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