Summer at Axe Head Farm 2015

MizzleSo far, this summer has been a bit of a weather miss, as opposed to last years definite weather hit.  Most of July was spent with the farm sat in the clouds, and as we are only 174 meters above sea level, this was a bit of a shocker!  I’ve been reliably informed by an old school friend that lives in the village just up the road, that the weather will improve once the kids go back to school and the mass exodus of holiday makers has taken place.  Great!  I’m sorry folks, but if you wouldn’t mind getting your caravans hooked up, your tents packed away and your kids back to school early, that would be really helpful!!!

The biggest problem is not that the sun has not been out lots making me lovely and brown, but that our growth seems to be about one month behind everywhere else.  We were on our way back from Falmouth over the weekend, and couldn’t help but notice that the wild blackberries at the side of the road were much bigger than our wild blackberries, and more advanced, as they even had some fruits ripening.  It’s not just the blackberries.  Our apples are behind.  Our blueberries are behind.  The lavender is behind.  It made us realise just how important our poly tunnels are going to be.  So much so, I suspect we’ll be wanting more than just two as we move forward.

20150704_141436_resized_2Talking of poly tunnels, we have finally started the construction of our first tunnel.  The weather has been the main thing that has held us back.  Job number one of our construction process was digging 22 holes for the foundation poles.  Easy!  Oh, well it would’ve been without all the rain!  Digging nice clean holes in the rain is a fool hardy task.  You may as well just ask how deep you’d like your puddle!!  Anyway, by the middle of July we’d got them all done, the base plates fitted and the holes filled in again.

On the 19th July 2015 our first poly tunnel rose out of the ground.  Our army of helpers and working holiday folk got all 11 hoops up in a day!  It looked awesome.  Like we were creating the pyramid stage at Glastonbury or something.  All nice shiny metalwork stood tall and proud in the middle of our once ploughed field.  A 60 foot by 20 foot vision of promise for the future of Axe Head Farm.  It was simply mesmerising, and neither myself, or Adrian, could take our eyes of it.  Look at us!  We look so thrilled and happy stood beneath our wonderful hoops!  That evening Adrian set off back to London for another weeks work and all seemed well in the world!  Shame it didn’t last.

It would seem that there are some pretty glaring omissions in the instructions for building a poly tunnel.  Firstly, it seems putting all the hoops up the same way round is pretty important, but at no point in that pages instructions does it mention that one little point.  Not as a tip.  Not as a please note.  Not at all!  It took us a while to see that this one simple instruction could’ve been really handy.  Stuff wasn’t fitting as it should.  Eventually, once we’d worked it out, things started to fall in to place.  There were other mistakes along the way, but nothing that couldn’t be undone.

Poly Tunnel Framework

By the time Adrian got back from his working week, our band of merry holiday workers were all feeling pretty glum.  What we expected to take just 2 or 3 days, took us all week!  With the roof braces and twin stabiliser bars still to add to the tunnel, I decided to take the band of once merry holiday workers out for a day trip around Cornwall, leaving Adrian and Finn (our eldest) to put the last few bits of the poly tunnel on, before we started building the doors.  When we got back from our whistle stop tour of Cornwall, the boys had finished their bit of the puzzle and looked pretty pleased with themselves sat drinking beer and relaxing.  That didn’t last long either!  Our band of happy once more merry holiday workers went straight over to inspect their handy work, and lo and behold, they had fallen victim to the poor quality of the instructions also, and all but one of the fittings had to be removed and redone.

I guess the boys felt we’d set them up to fail by leaving them with the poly tunnel and them getting it wrong too, but they stood as much chance as we did of getting it right first time.  If anything, I think that their failure made us feel better.  It wasn’t just us!  I guess rubbish instructions for building a poly tunnel are less of an issue with an 8ft by 6ft tunnel, but when you are building something that is 60ft x 20ft in size, that is a huge number of corrections to make.  Especially when you take in to account that just putting the foundation posts in involved 22 posts, 22 anchor plates, 44 clamps and 88 bolts, and that was all necessary just to get the build up out of the ground!

20150722_054312Progress on the poly tunnel then fell away.  The next section involves building the sliding doors.  So, why the delay?  In order to build the doors, you need a flat level surface.  We have a once ploughed field to work on.  Doors being correct is pretty important to ensure they actually open and close!  We had a big problem.  Where on earth do we build them?  Then, with the aid of a good Cornish Ale, Adrian had a eureka moment.  We’d recently ordered an 8ft x 8ft chicken house.  It comes with a floor!  A nice flat surface to work on.

The chicken house was delivered yesterday!!!!  I’m hoping it’s build instructions are both clear and accurate.  To be fair though, being made of wood, it is much more within my skill set.  I’m good at woodwork.  Metalwork, not so much.

Of course, today its raining again, and, not because I don’t want to get wet or don’t have wet weather gear, it means work has stopped for the day.  It’s not just difficult to dig holes in the rain, it is also difficult to saw wood when its wet and its pretty dangerous to run power tools in the rain.  So, here I sit.  Writing a blog, sheltering from the rain and dreaming of the day our first poly tunnel is finished and the chicken house is erected.  Then work starts on poly tunnel number two, and the mother of all projects, our steel framed barn.

Finn tells me I might get some time off in December 2016.  That’s very nice of him, but in truth, I think it will be somewhere nearer to 2026!!!