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Diary Article 5

A wet start to the morning had me wondering what I was going to do when I got to Oak Tree, this week, but providence gave me an interesting day as usual.

Normally the young lad is already busy at work before I get there, but this week he was nowhere in sight and the Centre Manager was busy at work instead. I was told the youngster was very poorly so Dave was having to do his work as well as his own. The animals all needed feeding and cleaning out, so Dave asked me to help. Not trusting me round the bigger animals - the calves, pig and goats, he told me to feed and water the hungry chickens. There were five wire hen runs full of hungry birds that were getting very cross at not being fed earlier in the morning and I have a hole in my knee where one of them attacked me to prove it!

Gradually the sun came out and everything started to dry up, so after the animals had all been seen to I had a little look at the weekly pile of rubbish ready for burning. Starting to pull it apart to build my fire, I found a lot of thinnish and fairly straight branches that would be ideal to go through a garden shredder. The tool shed was already open and I had seen a couple of shredders tucked away in the corner when I had fetched the fork for the fire, so I asked Dave about them. We pulled the bigger of the two shredders out and found a suitable place to operate it. It was petrol driven and fired up at the second pull of the rope. With the engine chugging away nicely I tried to engage the cutters. The tone of engine did not change, nor did the blades go round. After calling Dave over the pair of us started to examine the machine a little more closely. Being an agricultural engineer it didnít take Dave long to realise that there was no drive belt! Promising to get one, he put the machine away and I tried using the small domestic shredder instead. Both of us thought it was going to be a waste of time as electric shredders are notoriously useless. However, the machine surprised us both producing lovely little wood chips and happily chewed up anything that we put into it. Admitedly we were fairly selective in what we fed it, but it did a great job on some surprisingly thick, knobbly branches. Unlike the shredder that I had at home, this one was highly geared and chewed the branches at low speed, instead of using a high speed blade with a cutting action. This meant that there was hardly any noise compared to my own shredder and although I had got my ear defenders with me, I really did not need them! Quickly I built up a pile of chippings before Dave found me some old animal feed bags to put them in. At home I am always putting chippings round various bushes to suppress weeds and I am also using them on my allotment this year between the fruit bushes, so I asked Dave if I could have them. He was OK with that on the condition that I return the bags next week, so I came away at the end of the morning and went home, with 3 lovely bags of chippings. Next week, when I return the bags I must remember to make a small donation, because if I had bought the chippings from somewhere else I would have paid good money for them. The cheapest I have seen them on sale is £2 a bag from a little nursery on Cannock Chase that make their own, but in garden centres they are more like 4 or 5 pounds a bag.

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