Earth moving

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Two barrows and a bucket

I’ve been hard at work moving soil down the hill to try and terrace the orchard area. There is a surplus of soil just below the barn where S. moved it from various locations, particularly from where the roadway now wraps around above the byre. Let’s just say the soil is of varying quality. I’m pretty sure that some of it is quite fertile. There was a quantity of nettles there, and they are an indicator of fertile soil. However as I’m digging it I am using two wheel barrows and a bucket. One wheelbarrow for the ‘good’ soil, one wheelbarrow for the pernicious weed roots (couch grass, creeping thistle, docken and nettles) and the bucket for larger bits of coal as I spot them. It seems that part of the area above the byre must have been the storage area for the house coal. There is also quite a bit of saw dust. Probably from more recent chainsawing by S. since the wood we have been using has been cut up in that sort of area in the recent past. As well as the above, there is also a sprinkling of the typical bits of glass, string, broken crockery and strange part burnt bits of possibly vehicle that we often find around the place. You must understand that until the 1970’s there was no rubbish collection in the area, so everything was disposed of locally. I have fantasies sometimes of being able to piece together ancient dinner services like a three dimensional jigsaw. In the meantime the bits get collected into piles and occasionally the ‘real’ rubbish thrown in the bin. I do love the archeological fringe of my gardening sometimes though. The best thing I’ve found was an flint arrowhead or speartip. Although I didn’t dig that up. It came to the surface when the drains for next door’s soakaway were dug just above the orchard. It makes me very humble about my significance when I think of the thousands of years that have passed since that item was made and lost. The land continues despite my little scratchings.

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Holmisdale Flint tool

Growing on the earth pile are several silverweed plants. One in particular has lovely long roots from last year. I’ve moved them down to where the soil has been moved to in the orchard. I’m pretty sure that I’ll have to dig it over to remove couch and other weeds, so I may as well have some goodies to dig up as well. The exposed soil after removing the top layers by the barn is nice and bare. I’ve planted out there a few skirret seedlings that have got a bit pot bound. I don’t want to get too close to the working area though, or they’ll get trampled. Although they looked tiny little plants, they seem to have little root thickenings developing anyway, poor little things! Still they should do a bit better with a bit of root room, if the slugs don’t get them.

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Long root on Silverweed

This earth moving is slow work. I’m hopeful that I will have the left hand side of the path done, as you look down the hill, this year, but I’ve got a lot more soil to move. The weather more recently has been a bit wet too, which doesn’t really make for safe work. Not just working in the wet, which isn’t pleasant, but the extra weight of wet soil, and slippery steep slopes make it awkward….

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More silverweed for orchard
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7 thoughts on “Earth moving

  1. What have you done with the spearhead? It’s interesting to learn of these extras.. such as no refuse collection before the ’70s as well. I hope you don’t find too much plastic.

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    1. Most of the plastic is baler twine and other bits of string. I think much of the plastic (of which there used to be much less in packaging) was simply burnt. There is still a fair amount of that going on quietly 😦

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    2. Oh, I’ve kept the tool head. I know I’m supposed to send it off somewhere, but apparently they never return back to place of finding unless you have a museum. It’s labelled up with grid reference and date, there was no context of finding so nothing interesting in terms of the site itself, just a mislaid weapon. I like to imagine how it got lost. A precious thing in it’s day.

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  2. The earth moving looks like very hard work. I did a bit a few years ago when we had to dig out a bank for an extension, but our builder did most of it for me because I would probably still be doing it now otherwise! Good luck with it and the eventual terracing you have planned.

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    1. It’s not too bad, I just take it steady and do a bit every now and then, but it does…. take…. a….. long…. time….! I get impatient, since I can’t really do any planting till the levels are right and the grass keeps growing back, as well as there being so much else to be done.

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