gardening

ScrapHappy September 2021: Scythe o’ the times – Again

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Too good to scrap

Before the once upon a time started, there was a scythe that was used and hung up after each day’s toil in a slightly-too-big-to-be-called-a-shed shed. This happened a lot until one day, it stopped happening at all, and the scythe hung there, quietly awaiting the day it would be taken down, to feel once more the yielding of the blades of grass to its blade of steel…

Once upon a time, some Snail friends moved into a house next to which was an old barn-like building. In this building-of-indeterminant-status, there was a very old scythe, hanging from a rafter. This was a happy scythe – it had done its work and was resting and rusting in peace, while the world outside went on its way, presumably growing very tall grass and cutting it down again with very sharp, much newer blades.

Time passed, about 12 years to be vaguely precise although in scythe years, that’s about three weeks (they can live an extremely long time). One day, Mr Snail appeared and then things happened…

I mean, you can’t let a scythe rust to nothing without an attempt to rescue it, right?

This piece of scrap really was quite a challenge. I use a scythe reasonably regularly (see here) but I am still learning, particularly when it comes to the black magic that is peening. This is where you repeatedly whack the edge of a blade to make it better at being sharp, which it certainly isn’t immediately after having been whacked with a hammer. I have peened one of my own blades a couple of times but, because I don’t scythe rocky fields and so start to damage the edge, any difference I have thought was there before and after peening might be down to wishful thinking.

This old scythe was an opportunity to see if my peening technique was actually doing something since, when I tried to cut grass with it, it mostly folded the grass over, without actually doing any cutting. The snath (shaft and handles) seemed OK (it’s metal) although the wooden grips could do with a coat of varnish.

This blade was so blunt I nearly called it Emily. Or Anthony.

This blade was so blunt I nearly called it Emily. Or Anthony.

 

Peening jig (not a dance)

Peening jig (not a dance)

 

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Other bit of peening jig (still not a dance)

After peening, the blade was definitely sharper, but the set-up was clearly wrong. A couple more hours of playing and now it will cut reasonably well – ultimately, I think a new blade will be the answer but until then… scraphappiness abounds!

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Proof that the scythe can now do what it claims

One man went to mow etc. etc. Sorry you can't see his legs, his wearing camouflage...

One man went to mow etc. etc. Sorry you can’t see his legs, he’s wearing camouflage…

oOo

P.S. A warm welcome to Jule, the newest Scraphappy member!

These ScrapHappy posts are curated by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. I have sneaked one or two non-fabric-based ScrapHappys in when no one was looking!

Lots of other happy scrappers contribute too, so check them out:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon (me!), HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear,
Carol, Preeti, Edith, Debbierose and Jule

Categories: gardening, repair, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 25 Comments

Lawn Again

All hail the soon-to-arrive lawn!

All hail the soon-to-arrive lawn!

As my Reader knows, Chez Snail now has a new raised bed and some bare earth (didn’t know? Read about that endeavour here). The bare earth is, of course, where the grass is going to go. The Snail decided that we should invest in some pre-turfed, er, turf, the kind you roll on from a, you know, roll.

A few days after completing the raised bed, the turf arrived from Shropshire. We wanted to buy more locally but there basically isn’t anywhere by us unless we were prepared to pay over a thousand pounds for it, which seemed steep for 16 m2 of grass.

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Worst. Swiss. Roll. Ever.

I moved the 16 rolls round to the back of the house and The Snail and I began the task of creating a new lawn.

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It’s beginning to lawn…

We kept on rolling…

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Halfway there…

… until, amazingly, after about 75 minutes, it was complete!

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Turf’s up! Well, down.

We put up a barrier to stop the dogs having a dig – it’ll come down in about a week or so’s time when the grass had had a chance to root. Another step closer to Stormy Harbours at an expanded “Throw It Again Sam Cocktail Bar”!*

Mine's a Stormy Harbour please, and hold the squeaky ball

Mine’s a Stormy Harbour please, and hold the squeaky ball

Quick update: We have had persistent rain the last few days and the grass has already started to root into some of the ground!

oOo

* When the rain would care to stop.

Categories: gardening, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: | 18 Comments

Raising the Bed

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From this…

When Sting described seven days*, he reckoned that Monday could wait until Tuesday, and also that Sunday would be too late. The Cure didn’t care that Monday** was blue but were prepared to spend Tuesday and Wednesday in bed. Here at Chez Snail, none of this would have washed with The Snail who, on a Sunday morning, had a great idea.

“Let’s rearrange the garden,” she said, or words to that effect. The three raised beds we had created over a very hard weekend about 15 years ago weren’t really working for us anymore, so The Snail felt it was time to move a number of the old railway sleepers around to create a new big raised bed and leave a space on which to create a green grassy area (lawn is too grand a word, it implies a strict totalitarian regime of cutting which will never happen) to put important things on, such as a parasol and some deck chairs.

And so, on a Monday (actually, it was a Sunday afternoon that I tested out whether I could move a sleeper on my own, but Sting wouldn’t have approved), I started the move…

First sleeper (in the background) moved

First sleeper (in the background) moved

Digging a trench to take the sleeper that will form the front of the bed

Digging a trench to take the sleeper that will form the front of the bed

New front sleeper being moved into place. Old vertebrae being moved out of place.

New front sleeper being moved into place. Old vertebrae being moved out of place.

Now, if I had followed Sting’s and The Cure’s advice, nothing would have been done by Wednesday. However, I was beginning to think that the heart attack The Cure were planning on Thursday might come to pass.

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Slowly taking shape…

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Top front sleeper in place – originally, it was going to be the one on the ground, pretending to be a banana

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Just a couple of pieces to fit in now

The weather forecast was for very heavy rain on the approaching Monday, so now having everything done by the end of Sunday was really important. With help from The Snail, we finished up in the cool sunshine of a Sunday early evening.

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Bed raised and ground in front covered to stop the forecast heavy rain washing soil away

Sleepers (two kinds)

Sleepers (two kinds)

All finished for now – there will be a few additions, such as a painted wooden top to the front sleeper to act as a nice seat.

Roll on edible things growing in the raised bed and drinks under the parasol on the new grass (post to follow about that)!

Complete (for now)!

… to this, In Only Seven Days***

oOo

* Seven Days by Sting

** Friday, I’m in Love by The Cure

*** In Only Seven Days by Queen.

Categories: gardening, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 14 Comments

Scrum from Scrap – a quick update

How it started...

How it started…

Back in June 2020, I wrote about creating food from old credit card bills and cardboard, because that is the sort of nonsense I write about sometimes. By way of perpetuating such blatant misuse of the time given to me on this Earth, I thought you, my ever-faithful and amazingly tolerant reader, would like a picture of what that rubbish (the actual rubbish, not this blog) is up to.

Mmm... Green things

Mmm… Green things

Actual rubbish into actual soil in less than a year! The creation of compost is still something that fills my heart with joy and, eventually, my belly with food.

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… how it’s going

Planted by the Snail herself, these plants would not dare do anything but grow. Yumminess awaits!

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I remember when all this was credit card bills and cardboard

oOo

Categories: gardening, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

ScrapHappy April 2021: Reel and Raspberries

The reel thing

The reel thing

The Snail and I walk the dogs every day, provided the weather isn’t so miserable that even the dogs are begging us not to drag them out. This has meant that, over the last year, we have been out twice almost every day. On our walks, we talk about pretty much anything and everything and also encounter some ‘useful’ items lying around.

One such conversation went pretty much along the lines of:

Snail: The raspberry canes need supporting with tree stakes and wires of some kind.

Me: Mmm… steaks…

Snail: We’ll get some tree stakes from the garden centre when they are allowed to open. Do you have anything in that pile of junk you laughingly call your office we could use for the wires?

Me (noticing a reel of old telecoms wire by the road, and then failing to pick it up): I’ll have a think about it. Can we have chips with the steak?

One such item was a reel of copper wire, left by OpenReach (the telephone maintenance people, for my non-UK reader). They had been upgrading the telephone cables to fibre, and this rejected reel had been left, unloved and unwanted, and finally abandoned against a wall awaiting further anthropomorphism. It was left longer than was necessary as I kept forgetting to pick it up on the way past.

Eventually, I did remember to pick it up and recognise that its wiry heart was perfect for the Snail’s task. Easy! Just remove the outer sheathing and extract the wires. What could be simpler?

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Attempt #103 to strip the cable quickly (it didn’t)

Turns out, almost everything. It took me around eight hours to strip back the sheathing and pull out the wires. I used the workbench as a vice and then cut the sheathing every 10 cm or so (being careful not to nick the wires inside). After every three or so cuts, I pulled the sheathing off and started on the next section. It took quite a few attempts using a variety of tools before I came up with this method.

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Using a workbench as a vice because using the vice as a vice didn’t work

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Just when you thought my office couldn’t be any more messy…

Once all the wires were removed (some broke in the process), I wound the long pieces onto whatever was available – thread reels, and toilet roll middles.

A wired and weary face

A wired and weary face

There was a lot of waste – unfortunately, the cable sheathing is unusable. I might be able to melt it down but I don’t think it is very nice stuff, chemically speaking, so reluctantly it’s off to landfill. Boo.

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Wasted

Happily, there was more than sufficient wire for the raspberry canes and quite a bit left over for electronics projects or more plant restraint. Now I’m looking forward to fresh raspberries in my Kir Royale for breakfast, er, evening cocktails I mean…

oOo

These ScrapHappy posts are curated by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. I have sneaked one or two non-fabric-based ScrapHappys in when no one was looking!

Lots of other happy scrappers contribute too, so check them out:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon (me!), HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear,
Carol, Preeti, Edith, Debbierose and Jule

Categories: gardening, recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 32 Comments

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