Tag Archives: health and safety

Autumn Leaves

I finally did what the photography magazines have been recommended for the last month and looked on the floor. There are, ass they point out, colourful leaves on the floor.

The problem is that on a well-walked path many of the leaves are looking a bit threadbare. I’m sure there are still plenty of nice ones in the woods but I didn’t really have chance to check today. Another trip is needed.

Here is a selection of a few of the better ones.


They are reasonably easy to photograph compared to birds, as they aren’t very mobile and you can move them round a bit. However, they are trickier than teasel as they tend to blow away as the breeze stiffens. See my last post for further comments on this.

I’ve added a couple of other shots too – one of leaves catching the light whilst still attached to a tree and a couple of an archway that links two of the islands in the lake (taken from different sides of the lake). I can’t recall the exact date when the lake was built but a quick scan of the internet suggests 1750, which seems reasonable. It looks a bit like a bridge but it looks a bit steep and impractical so I’ll stick with “archway”.

The final picture is an example of “health and safety gone mad”, as I would say if I was writing for a tabloid. I’m waiting for the warning about uneven ground. There was one at Donna Nook on Monday. Uneven ground in the countryside, whatever next?


Yes, I’m sure they can. I expect the sign is more about avoiding liability than about preventing people being injured. Or am I just been cynical?


72 hours

In theory I have 114 hours left before we begin Open Farm Sunday. However, as I need to sleep, eat, cook, shop, collect one of the kids from Sheffield and break off to answer queries from members of the public and farm staff  it’s likely that I have only 72 hours, or even less, to produce a stunningly informative display on modern farming. I have a broken printer and a laminator that regularly pleats the paper and things are not looking good.

To add to my general feeling of forthcoming disaster we’ve just had a meeting (and you know what I feel about them) and we’re now doing the Health and Safety stuff. That’s like a meeting but with the additional point that plants become hazards (poison and thorns), animals can give you nasty diseases and even the ground we walk on can leap up and break your ankle. It’s a dangerous old world out there. I hate to think what it would be like if we ever reintroduced wild boar or bears.

You may of course be asking yourself why I’m writing this instead of getting on with work, but the question contains it’s own answer. Most things are better than work, and blogging certainly beats typing up notes on growing wheat. If you ploughed up Wembley Stadium, which wouldn’t be a bad thing in my opinion, you could grow enough wheat to make a sandwich for every member of a capacity crowd. The only problem there is that if you grew wheat on the field you wouldn’t get a capacity crowd. Nobody has spotted that so far.

Now, this is possibly an interesting fact when you first hear it, but I’ve heard it more than once now. I’ve also told them that one of our fields will produce wheat to make two pancakes for every inhabitant of Nottingham and made various other calculations based on the towns and schools that people come from. Using information off the internet I even calculated that the woodland we are planting would absorb the emissions from several thousand cars.

Yes, I did say “using information off the internet”. Some of you will have spotted the flaw there. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. I repeated an error found in several internet articles and produced a calculation that suggested we could solve the problem of global warming by all planting window boxes. This sounded a bit extreme so I did more research.

It seems I was wrong by a factor of several thousand.

I now have 71 hours left and Tim has just come in to tell me that one of the tents has broken in the wind, specifically the tent I’m supposed to be using at the weekend. Will be back later to put photos on.

Later: one pole is bent and another went through the roof of the tent. It’s fixable but we really could have done without spending the time on it.


Meanwhile the runner beans are suffering in the wind. I’ll try to save what I can but I’m going to plant replacements in the polytunnel tonight – fortunately I have toilet roll tubes in the back of the car.

That’s probably the oddest closing sentence I’ve ever used.

Monday Miscellany, posted on Tuesday

We had a strange day at the farm yesterday. With nobody in we managed to force our firstborn into action and shifted quite a lot of work. This was despite frequent visits from a variety of people. I wasn’t allowed to talk to them because I’m considered a trifle direct when people stop me working, so I was able to brew mint tea, make the nettle soup for today, restructure the herb bed and plant the new beans after the problematic start to the “Bean Trial”. More of that later.


Mint Tea


Sorry if the tenses seem a little strange in that paragraph, it was originally written yesterday but will be posted today, which was tomorrow when I wrote.

Julia spent half the day explaining what we were doing, what the statues were, what was happening on Open Farm Sunday and how to enter the Scarecrow Competition. She’s very good with people.

I’m good with tools of destruction, a talent which came to the fore when we got home. The laburnum tree, which had been leaning at an increasing angle over the last few months (coinciding with the time erection of next door’s new fence, though I am pointing no fingers here) had finally given up its struggle with gravity.

They don’t look like much but I can assure you there’s a lot of wood in a laburnum, particularly when you’re  using a pair of loppers and a pruning saw. The worst is over now ad I’ll be able to get on with pruning the plum, which is why I’d originally gone into the back garden.

I’ll miss it because laburnums have featured in my life since I was about 6 and we moved to a house with one in the garden, but it’s an ill wind that blows no good and I have plans now that we have a new patch of unshaded patio. Think “heated greenhouse”.

As for the “Bean Trial”,  it hasn’t worked out well. You may recall that we filled half a bed with compostable material and left the other half plain. I then added an “X” shaped frame and planted two Firestorm beans at the base of each cane. The half of the bed that was prepared with organic material definitely showed better germination and growth, but then nearly all the shoots disappeared. On digging holes to plant replacements I found many more beans which had germinated then been eaten.

We’ve also done a Health and Safety trial with the ends of the canes. The Mark I – Coke bottle and gaffer tape is big and clumsy and tends to fall off. The Mark II – plastic protector was too small for the cane so became a Mark III using a slit and gaffer tape. The unmodified protector still works for most canes and at 12 for £1 is a good investment. Better than a poke in the eye, as they say.


Mark I


Mark III


So, organic material is good, slugs are bad and beans that are two years past the date on the packet will still grow well. Hopefully the new plants will survive and we can start to measure the crop we get from the two sides.

However, nothing is certain in life so we will just have to see.

Drowning in paper

Great day today, if you have the soul of an accountant. I hope I don’t.

We had a couple of teachers to show round today. They are really very nice people it was a pleasure to see them. They will be reading this shortly so I’m not going to say anything else, am I? They’ve been bringing groups for a few years now so they must think we do a reasonable job. They did look a bit nonplussed when I suggested feeding the class a plate of weeds but they soon picked up when I revealed nobody has died from it. Yet.

That was the start of the paperwork – checking food allergies and risk assessment. None of this actually stops us killing a child on a visit, it just means that if we do we can escape most of the consequences by pointing out all the paperwork is in order.

Obviously the parents would be unhappy and it wouldn’t gain me any friends at the school if I sent one of their pupils home in a box. To be fair, I have never killed anyone on a visit yet, and don’t intend to: have you seen the paperwork that sort of thing generates?

I’ve now moved on to sending out booking forms and entering new bookings on the calendar. I don’t know where the time goes, but by the time it’s all checked, cross-referenced and explained that five-minute job seems to take an age.

It’s a tough choice – drowning in paperwork, ten feet from a kettle and warm. Or cold, in the middle of a field, picking up kestrel pellets from the base of the neighbours statues. According to the weather station it’s now 4 degrees Celsius outside and there’s a moderate breeze.

Those kestrel pellets can wait.