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Diary Article 14.

There were not many volunteers in first thing this week as it was just too hot for them, but David the manager was already hard at work when I got there. He was busy moving some loose hay back onto the stack and asked me if I wanted to help. I asked what else needed doing and he told me that there was some rubbish to get rid of. I said if it’s a choice between a bonfire and moving the hay I’ll get the matches!

I soon got the fire going, but there was not much wood as it was mostly weeds, thick plant stems and some assorted rubbish including bits of rags, cardboard and plastic that had been cleared out from somewhere. It was all fairly dry, but the weeds made it smoke and smoulder instead of it flaring up. With the fire well under way I went back to see how David was getting on by which time he had fetched a dust mask and nearly got the job done. The space in the barn was being cleared to make way for the big silage bags that were to be brought under cover and made ready for the Winter when they would be needed as feed for the cattle.

Wandering away again I looked for something to do and moved a few more thymes, angelica and lonicera nitidia into the cold frame to fill up some of the space and where they would be on show and seen better. Plants seem to sell well from the large brick built cold frame with it being the main plant retail display area, so it is always kept full and tidy.

This year the staff had made mounds using a lot of their home made compost onto which all the Courgette plants had been put. Unfortunately, the compost had a lot of weed seeds in that hadn’t been killed properly and this had resulted in a lot of weeds germinating around the plants. So, my next little job involved pulling a few weeds out from one of the mounds. It wasn’t really the right way to deal with the problem as it was so dry. It would have been better to mulch round the plants with a lot of grass cuttings. This would keep in the moisture and suppress most of the weeds. With the weather so dry though, the grass wasn’t being cut as often as normall, so I couldn’t suggest it.

After a little while my back started playing me up so I went back to see how David was getting on with the tractor and silage bags. He was rapidly filling the barn up with the giant, round, shiny, black plastic coated, bags. Using the tractor to move the bales was the only way with each bale weighing maybe half a ton or more, but the forks on the tractor left holes in them. I was told that for the baled hay to actually turn into silage in the bags, they had to be air-tight to keep the moisture in, so the holes all had to be sealed up with black adhesive tape as they were stacked. There were 29 bales in all and I had to clamber onto the lower ones to get to those stacked on top. With each bag, or plastic bale being about 4 feet high it took a bit of effort to climb up them. I might not be 60 yet, but I am getting there and with my old work clothes on and my childish outlook on life I often liken myself to “Compo,” from “Last Of The Summer Wine.” I could just imagine him clambering about the barn like I was! 
Still, it was a pleasant enough job to do to round off my morning before having an early finish to return home where my mother and her visiting younger sister would be waiting for me. Her younger sister, my Aunt, isn’t quite 90 yet and they would be getting impatient and hungry!

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