I know it’s a cliche, but with the clocks going back on Sunday the nights truly are drawing in, with chopping firewood part of the daily routine and our six hens now back in the coop for tea time .
I’m only 42 and consider myself still fairly young and “with it”, but I’m at that age now where I really appreciate a good log fire to sit in front of at night.
Morag insists I use firelighters to help start it these days, but when she first came down to visit me four years ago and I was “bothying” it in the cottage, she was horrified when I used some red diesel to encourage the fire to take hold.
Another benefit of these winter nights is that I get to spend more time with our daughter Alice who is nearly four months old now and growing like a mushroom.
I wish my calves had the same weight gain. The last few weeks we’ve noticed her starting to grab things whilst doing a lot of oooing and aaaahhing. She likes a giggle too so at least she appears to have a sense of humour – she’ll need it.
Late autumn is traditionally the farm sale month but because of Covid-19, nobody is allowed to attend so I’m missing out on catching up with pals whilst eating a bacon roll in a muddy field and buying stuff I’m not really needing. However, I have recently taken part in online bidding at some virtual roups.
This has been quite a revelation! I shocked myself with the buzz I got whilst trying to bid for a second hand socket set going up at 50p bids. I can now see how some people get hooked on online gambling or video gaming. There’s a time limit on each item so with five minutes to go I put in a generous offer of £4.50, confident that would secure it but also to fire a warning shot to other bidders that I meant business.
With a minute to go I was still the highest bidder but as I smugly drank my tea all hell broke loose as someone came in at a fiver. It took me three frantic 50p bids with the last one at five seconds to go to secure my socket set and see off the rival bidder.
Once the adrenaline in my body had subsided I was about to bid for a set of ladders but then Morag slammed the laptop shut (with my fingers still inside) and told me that was enough screen time for one day and that was that.
With all this wet weather there has been plenty of “red up the workshop” days, but with ewes to get ready for tupping and cattle to get inside I just haven’t got there yet, which is frustrating because I just LOVE a day in the workshop .
Although we are predominately a livestock farm I pride myself in being fairly mechanically minded – as a lot of farmers do. It’s amazing what you can do with just a grinder and a stick welder once you put your mind to it.
I’ve got about five “projects” on the go just now and I’m determined to actually finish one of them this winter…mind you I say that every year.
I’m always keen to see the contenders in the annual Farmers Weekly inventions competition and the RHASS technical innovation awards. A lot of these ideas, designed and built by farmers, usually go on to be built by machinery manufacturers. They tend to be thought up during routine mundane jobs with the enterprising farmer thinking: “How can I do this faster/easier/safer?”
My passion for all things mechanical is a hereditary trait with my grandfather’s brothers having a small engineering firm in Anstruther in Fife in the 1940s and 50s where, amongst other things, they developed the “Ainster” potato harvester – this was at a time when hand-lifting was the norm. It was basically a webbed elevator attached on to the side of a tractor with a share at the bottom which would dig out the tatties from the drill, the spuds would then proceed up the web then be transported up to a loading elevator into a trailer . For various reasons the idea only reached prototype and was never taken any further. I believe it was perhaps too heavy for the tractor and was going to take a lot of money and time to develop. This was also many years before destoning so there would probably be as many stones arriving in the trailer as potatoes. Having said all that it was an inspiring story that I was told about from an early age and was often talked about during family meals. It’s funny you know, I never met my great uncles but they have had a lasting effect on me and my workshop full of ongoing (unfinished) projects.
So here’s to all the workshop wizards out there who use a welder like it’s a wand and can turn half an idea on the back of a fag packet into a handy bit of kit…keep dreaming big.