Sunday 24 February 2013

Making inroads

Removing the turf at the entrance to keep the levels constant at the gate.
I took a couple of days off the day job this week, borrowed a digger, and started building a turning space and hardstanding for the new field. With ice staying in the water buckets all day every day, I put on as many layers of clothes as I could while still being able to climb in and out of the cab for the occasional shovelling.
A great view from the cab - those beautiful beasts, that drive me to spend my spare time doing this (note, the shelters are still standing!).
The stone lorries couldn't turn into the field, so the stone was tipped at the entrance, and I dragged it in with the digger.

This was the first time I'd driven a digger, since the Lego one I got for my 30th birthday! I realised that operating a digger can represent a metaphor for some businesses and organizations: sometimes the left-hand doesn't know what the right-hand is doing, and sometimes the left-hand didn't even know what it was doing itself!
I'll be able to get a smaller stone lorry into the field for the final bit.
At times I wondered what I'd taken on, it seemed like the third runway for Heathrow Airport, but after three and a half days, I'm very satisfied with the progress and have broken the back of it - the weather has been ideal, and we can tidy up the landscaping with a small viewing area.

Meanwhile, halter training continued - Discovery is a natural, and Darcy Spice was happy to follow - when I say happy, he turned and spat to let me know he could spend sunday afternoon more usefully!

Sunday 3 February 2013

Mobile shelter launched (nearly)

Yesterday, the new, modular alpaca rain and sun shade was assembled in position. Since I made them, the herd have been spending nights in the barn for obvious reasons, and due to the soggy ground it would have been too difficult to get the shelter over the hill, however yesterdays sunshine and a reasonable weather forecast suggests there will be some drying out this week, and indeed the herd didn't even head back last night, being happy to sit on the grass again.

I fitted a temporary cross-bar across the frame, so I could pick up each module supported across my shoulders, and one at a time headed up the still-slippery hill, resembling a tortoise - as I reached the top, the northerly wind started pushing me, and I had the option of testing it as an alternative hang-glider, but resisted that temptation and scurried over before the wind made the decision for me!

For anyone who's interested, here is a summary of the construction - the essence of the design was to be light, moveable by one person, and not requiring level ground - it isn't waterproof, but provides shelter and shade, like a hedge, and is cheap. The batten cost £50, the ground anchors £15 and the windbreak £60 for a 65% woven poly-something-or-other shade from , plus a bit for bolts etc.

I used 50 x 25 batten, but you have to be selective which pieces you use as it can be knotty. A patio with square slabs is useful for setting out the main triangle. The main joints are bolted.
Each module is 1200mm wide, and the roof and rear wall are cross-braced for rigidity.
The fabric is tacked on rather like upholstery (as if I'd know!) and wrapped around the edges for strength:

These anchors came from a camping shop - they are quite a good length.

I had these pins made 400mm long for anchoring fencing, as the longest tent pegs I could find are 300mm which isn't long enough (though it depends on your soil - ours is clay).
The pins are skew-nailed across the frame.
I've used 2 dog anchors where the modules join each other, tied with baler twine(!), though you could use a long bolt.
As I said before, they are suited to sloping ground:

I'll let you know, when they are tested by the wind....fingers crossed....

Meanwhhile, the boys have moved to the old tennis court for weaning, with Darcys older brother Camelot as head-boy, and halter-training has begun: