Can we dig it?

What fabulous weather we are having! In these difficult times, I am nonetheless thoroughly enjoying having the sun on my back as we work. We have completely stopped working inside because (a) we have run out of consumables and (b) the weather is too nice! Before we tell you about that…

…you need to know Phil needed to send a video of her catching and throwing a rugby ball as part of her rugby team’s video of all the players catching and passing on the ball in support of the NHS. Anyone would think Lola had never seen a rugby ball before – but she certainly wasn’t going to let it get away from her.

Here is this week’s task. You are looking at an area behind the building in which the propane gas cyclinder that used to supply the old kitchen was half-buried. Mike and I set to on Monday with shovels to move a series of box trees and shrubs which I have put into buckets until they can be relocated and then to try to dig out the tank…

…and this is what we dug out (fork handle there for scale). We were rather weary (?!*@!) on Monday night so on Tuesday we decided to get mechanical. You may be thinking this was an obvious step we should have taken earlier but there were two good reasons why we delayed, being:

Firstly, Mike’s mini-digger had been put into storage two or three years ago and we knew it would be a bit of a faff to get it out of the building again. On top of which, as it had been stored for so long, would it be ready to work again when we got it out? Decisions, decisions…

Secondly, the doorway in the polytunnel – which is on the path which was between the digger and the gas tank – was narrower than the digger. As you can see, Mike gave the frame a Samsonic shove (any rumours that a saw and lump hammer were involved are entirely scurrulous and we will not be engaging with any tabloids that publish any such suggestion) and the doorway was suddenly wide enough…

…so I drove the digger through the polytunnel yestdary morning whilst Mike went up to the attic to find the box of spares, in case we needed anything. It had taken ages to get the machine started as the carburettor was blocked. Once we had cleared that, it worked for a bit (although we noticed the hydraulic fluid was leaking) but then the drive chain disengaged. We managed to put that back, so yesterday we got about 90 minutes work out of the digger until we ran out of hydraulic fluid… but at least we were not as shattered at the end of the day as we had been after digging all day on Monday. We really must learn to remember we are no longer spring chickens.

We set to with Mike digging at the far end of the tank whilst I stood a safe distance from the digger head, moving any large sections of rubble uncovered by the digger – which explains the random heap of junk on the right hand side of the picture.

I have included this shot partly becuase it shows Mike fully focused on the job, but also because it shows the two stumps included in the old ‘garden’ which we think were once telegraph poles. We have no idea what they are doing here, but we plan to incorporate them into our final design rather than try to move them!

Today has been more productive. We spent a couple of hours this morning taking the control levers off and replacing the seals. That was quite a challenge – it is a three pronged devise, needing to be taken out of three fixed connectors, and then replaced, and moving this 3- part control mechanism formed a 3-D puzzle that had Mike and I scratching our heads the first time for about 30 minutes in total. The second time, it was more like a 10 minutes exercise so next time we need to do this, it should be a piece of cake. The picture above shows where we were at luncthime today…

…and here is how we left it tonight.

By the end of the day, we were leaking hydraulic fluid again, so tomorrow, we will get to replace two more seals, so we will get to see how well we remembered our winning technique, and then push on.

The target – in case you want to know what this is all for – is to dig out the space around the concrete platform on which the gas tank stands, but to over-dig on the left hand side by at least 1 metre. This is because the gas tank is not needed (and we hope it will be removed some time this summer), but we do need to move the oil tank. Mike hopes to reuse this concrete platform to house a couple of oil tanks, but it will need to be enlarged.

We do have further plans to share but, hey, I will leave those under my hat so that I can reveal our plans in the next few posts. I am confident that you will appreciate the surprises when they come. Or maybe not, but at least I am trying… (Yes, I know, very…)

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