Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Orchard

After finding fruit trees (all be it very small) for £7, a bargain, we decided to get the orchard finished, our lone apple tree was looking a bit sad. So to join him we now have a Stella cherry, Concorde pear, Braeburn apple and a Victoria plum.

Hopefully in about 3-5 years we will start to see a harvest.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Fantastic Mr Fox Strikes

Whilst visiting family back in Berkshire/Surrey and leaving the birds in the care of a neighbour it appears Mr Fox paid us a visit and he took no mercy :0(

We came back to find all the chickens gone, just piles of feathers and also Peia the duck was missing without a trace.

It is very sad as they were all settled and we had become quite attached to them.

Randomly the next day whilst Steve was cleaning the car he thought he heard a clucking noise so ran into the garden to see Red the chicken being chased by a fox! Star shot off after the fox whilst Steve tried to catch Red. Some 3hrs later Red was back safe and sound, the poor thing had been on the run all night! but seemed to have escaped harm although we don't know how seeing as she lost so many feathers.

So down to 1 chicken and 3 ducks. Red made friends with the ducks and moved in with them but we needed to get her some friends as it wasn't the same and she seemed a bit depressed.

Apparently there seem to be a larger number of foxes around this year plus there are some more urban foxes around too which are much more cocky, we have actually caught one in our courtyard! I guess this is country living for you and a few lessons learned.

We decided to further fox proof the chicken coop with an outside framework and replenish our stock.

We bought the same breeds as before thanks to Angela and Stuart from Brynheulog rare breeds so we now have 5 chickens and 3 ducks. They have all settled in and Red seems back to her old self again... one of the Frizzel chickens actually laid an egg on the way home so we saw this as a good omen!

Meet the new batch:

Enjoying a dust bath


The house has been leaking water all over the place with all the rain we have been having lately. We know we have a leaking roof over the utility room as the roof is rotten and needs replacing and a lack of guttering at the back of the house isn't helping the situation either, but we still have water coming up through the floor in various parts of the house.

The house is built into the hillside, (that is what Llechwedd means Hen means old) so the first floor is technically at ground level at the back of the house. The original Welsh long house part of the house wasn't that close to the ground at the back but over the years the house has been extended and then then trees have grown up which has meant the ground meets the house at the back. So the first thing we need to do to try and resolve the damp and water leak issues is dig out the back of the house to get the ground level more even.

It is quite scary to see a massive digger out the back of your house inches away form the window...

It has also turned out to be a bigger job than we first thought as our digger friend has dug deeper it appears what we thought was just soil and rock is actually solid bed rock. We were going to add french drains in as well but I am not sure we will be able to now as the rock is so tough. Fingers crossed the digging will be enough, we are forecast more rain tomorrow as we'll have to wait and see if the water still comes up through the floors.

The hay barn finally comes down

The old hay barn was half down when we moved into the house and has been deteriorating gradually. It was always our intention to use the space as a car park for the business and with the all the stormy weather we have had lately it was becoming very unsafe and so we have had the rest removed.

Chimney Maintenance

We have had our wood burner for a year now and we found that when it rained heavily it would shoot down the chimney and make a real mess of the walls and bring all sorts of crap down with it. So we have now fitted a new chimney pot and wire rain cover.

It was also a good opportunity to cover up the other side of the chimney to stop the Jackdaws nesting in it and making a racket.

Comet's bat!

Whilst in the middle of the kitchen refurb Comet decided to do some decorating of her own and brought us a live bat! It was fun and games getting that out.

Kitchen Refurb

Our next project was to get the kitchen fixed up in time for our new arrival. We didn't want to go for the usual run of the mill fitted kitchen and we also didn't have the money for it ;0)

So sticking with the farmhouse look and feel we decided to retain the original 50's storage cupboards and furniture and then salvaged as much as we could from the barns around us as we did with the bathroom.

Scaffold boards/scrap wood and hooks became shelves and coat racks. Old roof slates became a windowsill. We found a Belfast sink which along with bricks from the demolished barn and a huge piece of slate we found under the house in the cellar, created a sink unit under the window. We also found the matching hob for the oven and they were moved to the back wall where the sink used to be next to the Aga.

1m long drill bit to get through the solid stone walls
Old leaking plumbing removed
Temporary kitchen made in the utility room
Old tiles removed and shelves demolished
Getting rid of the mouldy wallpaper
First attempt at cement!
Laying the sink unit foundations
Re-plastering/patching the walls

The dishwasher is finally plumbed in after a year!
Painting the walls cream to warm up the space but still keep it light


The finished kitchen