|Having spent a winter out in the open all the controls have started to seize up, including the throttle cable which jammed and has snapped. One of the rams on the backhoe has developed bad rust spots and caused the seals to leak. Now that the bank of England interest rate has dropped to only 3% (and our mortgage being on a tracker rate), we've decided to invest in a couple of expensive items for the house. The first is the air source heat pump to ultimately reduce our heating bills (as well as reduce our carbon footprint) while the second is a tractor barn to store the garden equipment.|
My first job was to level the ground where the barn was to be located. Because the whole garden slopes away to the bottom of the garden I had to dig down at one end and raise up the other. I only ordered two tonnes of type 1 which was nowhere near enough. A third bag of type 1 allowed me to build up the edges where the frame of the barn would be placed but still not enough to cover the whole area, yet another bag was required for that.
|The guys from Haymac turned up to erect the barn on November 28th, a cold and very wet day! They worked throughout the rain but didn't manage to finish the job so had to return the next day. Luckily the job of levelling the ground for the barn was good enough for the construction and after the barn had been moved around slightly it bedded in nicely. The ground around the barn turned into a total mud bath!|
|In March I was persuaded by Karen to buy a new company car (as a fun investment) which unfortunately demoted the Leaf out of the garage. This meant that I had to start thinking about where to store another vehicle and also the Volvo which sat in the back garden for over a year (as it isn't worth much but will one day be a classic - honest!). After considering many options I decided that the only real choice would be to replace the barn with something a little larger, however as we worked on what the new building would hold the dimensions increased significantly. Eventually we have ended up working on a barn that will be capable of storing three cars and a tractor. Jason and I dug out the base using Izzy and moved the excavated soil down to the mound, before Jason prepared the shuttering and I moved the old rubble off the patio as part of the sub base, along with ten tonnes of road stone.|
The cement mixer that goes on the back of Izzy has sat in the barn for nearly five years so it was time to connect it up and get it working on the new base. This proved very problematic because it was only cheap and immediately threw the chain when it started. After a huge amount of mechanical work we managed to get it working. We had to shorten the PTO shaft (three times) and had to make a chain tensioner out of bolts, washers and metal towbar bracket. When I finally got it working it proved very useful, big enough to hold the equivilent of four regular mixer loads. I mixed nearly sixteen tonnes of ballast with one hundred bags of cement, but we ran out so had to stop and then take another day off work to finish off.
|Dismantled and being cut into shape to become a new smaller shed for the mower and other tools.|
|I installed a ring main in the barn which will run the fans on the carcoons and a lighting circuit in the tractor and storage sections. I have run an armoured cable around the back of the shed which will eventually be connected to consumer unit in the games room. The carcoons were installed and the Volvo was put away. The electrical draw from the fans will be minimal but it does seem to work really well. The car was wet when it was put away but all moisture was gone after 24 hours.|
|Luke helped me create an earth ramp up to the doors of the barn so we can drive the cars in and out. We seeded it as nobody had any turf for sale this late in the year, however the grass seems to have taken quite well. We laid chicken wire across it to stop the rabbits from digging it up. I put everything away so the garden is now clear again and the tractor fits in nicely between all the equipment.|