So early this morning, I ran down to the allotment to help our friends Liz and Sarah clear the enormous pile of wood from the unsuccessful bonfire night mountain. The half plot has been covered by this stuff for months with no concrete plan to move it. Luckily, one of our friends owns his own gardening business and was happy for us to borrow his wood chipper for the day. Whilst he helped get it into place, I took his four year old daughter around the site to visit all the chickens. We ran into Phil who kindly let us go into his coop to feed some treats to the chickens and collect some eggs. Chickens suitably counted, I dropped her back with her dad and we made a start on the bonfire mountain.
Everyone donned their ear defenders and goggles – the chipper is insanely loud and the wood flies in all directions! With my husband in charge of putting stuff into the chipper, Sarah and I got busy breaking down the branches whilst Liz sorted through the mountain to remove the fragments of old broken shed that formed a considerable part of the pile.
When we were about halfway through, Liz called time and we all headed up to their shed for a drink and a bacon butty. As we waited for the bacon to cook and the kettle to boil, we realised it was rather chilly! Scoffing the bacon butty and washing it down with a delicious drink saw all of us refreshed and ready to go again. This time, we made faster progress and before we knew it, we had got through all but the last few dregs of the pile.
Another tea stop and a new plan was hatched. Liz and I would sort through the enormous wood pile (fragments of sheds and random other wooden planks) whilst my husband and Sarah would tackle the remaining cuttings. The ear defenders were amazing but made communication more difficult! Armed with a claw hammer, Liz got busy taking out nails from the wood and I began to sort the nail/screw free wood from the nail/screw filled wood. As we were halfway through, the chipper stopped. Looking up, we saw my husband and Sarah busy poking at the base of the chipper. Apparently something had got stuck in the blades. This can happen from time to time but ten minutes of wrestling with it, the chipper still refused to go.
Shouting across to my husband, I offered my small fingers to try and remove the blockage. I got some bits out but there was lots stuck at the back. Using a long metal rod, we poked at the blades from above and below, increasingly desperate to get the chipper going again. There was only a tiny pile left to chip and it would be so frustrating not to finish the job! Fortunately, after several more minutes, we cleared the blockage. Sarah helped finish chip the remaining branches with my husband as Liz and I moved onto a final clearance of the plot. Liz used a rake to clear the plot and I transferred it into the large composing area.
Plot cleared and everyone turning blue with cold, we messaged our friend to collect the chipper and hauled it up to the car park. We said goodbye to Liz and Sarah and thanked them for the delicious bacon butties and purchasing of the safety equipment. Before we left the site, we fed the chickens who were very unimpressed at being fed so late especially as we had been on site all day! Two eggs collected and all chickens tucking into their food happily, we trudged home to warm up!
Tomorrow’s plan is to dig out the main coop. It’s a job I loathe yet it is a vitally important one. Generously, Liz and Sarah are letting us use some of the chippings from today for the coop floor. The combination of digging out and new chippings should keep the birds off the mud, the levels of which I am desperately hoping will recede over the next few weeks.