Tuesday 18 July 2017

Three 8-Wheelers of Concrete for K-Dub

2 tiny goslings led out to the big outdoors. The orange dog's water
bowl is their safe "pond" and they love paddling in it.
No real new news of this smallholding for this post; we seem to have spent the week just chugging along, progressing all the old stories a little bit, so I'll keep this one fairly short and sweet as per my pact with you, the reader. If I have nothing to say, I will not say it!

Beeblebrox with her 7 in the kitchen garden. 
No news, though, is also good news - everything which was alive in the last post is still among those present. 2 goslings and all 19 baby chicks have somehow survived the slings and arrows so far. That is an achievement in itself - just keeping the babies alive is worth shouting about.

The purple loose strife is taller than me
this year by the pond there.
I got a chance, too, to carry on with the white lime-wash on the inside of that shed. Readers who have shared our story from the move to Ireland will know that we arrived with no knowledge of the 'recipe' for lime-wash and have since blagged various solutions from the Internet, from builders providers and from fellow sufferers.

Looking a bit 'ox-tail' this venison soup was superb. 
The main ingredient is always 'White Rhino' brand lime powder by the 25 kg sack. You make up a more or less runny 'paint' by adding water, plus we have tried in the past, quantities of white cement or table salt both of which allegedly help the lime to stick or fix.

That lovely stonework 'thing' at the end of our road. Story soon.
This year, painting the INSIDE of buildings for the first time we tried out a whole new recipe and think we have now whittled the various suggestions to a 'keeper'. This is pure 1:1 lime and water. No additional ingredients. One yogurt tub filled with water to one flat-top tub of the powder. Stir the powder into the water and leave 30 mins to react and thicken.

This gives you a gloop about as thick as single cream. It works really well with the old fashion 'slappy' lime-wash brushes. It is thick enough to not dribble off down the wall when you smear it onto the clean surfaces of stone, and 'slaps' beautifully off the bristles, penetrating deep into the dusty cracks and crevices when you administer a good splat with the side of the brush over the joint-crack. I know I have to re-point soon but this stuff gives a re-assuring impression of reduced thickness gaps, as if enough coats would see you with a solid white wall.

That 30' x 40' shed base at K-Dub's. 
Meanwhile the various harvests are also continuing. We are getting so many strawberries at the moment that we have ended up 'exporting' them. Liz took some to work (as was) today and we shipped some more over to K-Dub's place where young H (5) loves his soft fruit and this weekend coming, Liz will take another big Tupperware over to Sparks's gaff in Mullingar, where there is to be a family BBQ. We are also well fed at present on broad beans, calabrese and courgettes.

Grooved, non-skid concrete for K-Dub's dogs' new run.
But I said no news of "this" smallholding. We did have an exciting time half an hour's drive away in Sligo, finally pouring the concrete for K-Dub's huge shed/workshop base and a bit of a dog pen. This was another of his major projects involving 23 tonne of concrete arriving in three 8-wheeler lorries in quick succession, to be handled (raked, spread, tamped down, bull-floated and finally power-floated).

A few archery pictures just to fill out the text. 
The good news on this pour was that K-Dub had arranged for the first lorry to be equipped with the optional 11 metre horizontal conveyor belt which would mean the lorry could fire concrete right to the back corners of the pad with no need for weary-knee'd wheel barrow men to move it.

It all went according to plan for 2 lorries and we were 'flying'; the stuff was going down really well and everyone starting to relax. Tired but happy. Then a few flies hit the ointment. Lorry #3 turned out to be a re-use of #2 with the same driver, so he needed not only to go back to base to re-load (about an hour and a half round trip) but also to take his lunch (call that 2 hours then). We just had to wait while the 7/8 finished shed base got tamped and re-tamped, teased and primped into a superior degree of flatness and polish, till the last cubic yard or two turned up to finish the missing corner.

4 archers line up on this cameraman who is hiding behind the
horns of the ibex target. Obviously it was all under control and
no-one really 'drew' till I was safely out of the way. 
That was all good so far, but then the driver needed to move the lorry further down the 'site' so that his chute would reach the dog-pen slab for his final 4 cu-yards. At this point he lost the plot and reversed off the edge of the hard standing, bogging down his right rear axles and was not going anywhere till we had emptied him and the neighbour's big 4WD tractor had turned up with a tow-chain.

Those 4 arrows in a nice pattern in the kill zone are mine. I am
not sure what the other guy was playing at with his scatter of shot
in the eye, spine and front trotter. 
Bad news for those workers who had been enjoying the lack of barrowing. We had to stick barrows under the chute of the badly leaning concrete lorry while the driver dispensed the 4 cu-yds barrow-loads for us (about 20 barrows per yard). I hate that job. It kills my ankles and knees and assures me that I am, indeed 60 and not a young one any more. I managed to stay with the younger lads for 3/4 of that base but lost my balance on one really heavy full one and sat the last few dances out to get my breath. Never mind.

There are actually 2 arrows in full flight in this shot, in the
yellow oval, but I bet you can't see them in this print!
'We' got the job done and the lorry was dragged from it's temporary resting place in the soft, peaty soil. This at the 2nd attempt. In the first, the big 4WD tractor just spun its wheels on K-Dubs drive, not enough grip. The driver went home to load 44 concrete blocks into the tractor's link-box and came back with a bit more traction. K-Dub is delighted. He is also, he tells, me, skint. 23 yards of concrete sets you back €1,700 so he now needs to go back to work and earn some more for the concrete blocks, roof beams and cement etc for the shed itself.

Log-Rat #2 nailed. 
Meanwhile the lovely smooth shiny concrete pad is a great bike-playground for H(5) and the dogs have been given the "Heras" fence panels for their dog-run so they were out enjoying the hot sunshine when we rocked up with the strawberries today.

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