By now we had got used to the daily running of the farm and started to look ahead. We put together a list of things that needed doing and realised that we’d have to address them individually, and over a period of months, if not years!
Our first priority was to get the lambing shed up and running. It needs to be said that the sheds are very…sheddy. When they were new they probably looked very good, but considering they were put here 30 years ago (and were second hand then), they are showing their age both aesthetically and structurally.
There are two sheds; the lambing shed (left in picture) and Pop’s shed. As we knew there was a lot of work ahead of us we decided to attack (quite literally) the lambing shed first. It had been patched together over the years with all sorts of bits and bobs including mesh, bailer twine, drawers, for sale boards and all sorts of wood. As well as being used for sheep it had more recently been used for chickens and so everything was covered in dust, there were the usual holes in the floor and it didn’t quite smell like a bed of roses.
So, first we cleared it out and had a few bonfires. Then, we got to cleaning and disinfecting it with sprayers and the accompanying masks and goggles. Once we’d done that we realised that we had pretty much gassed ourselves out of it and needed to leave it to air for a few days. This gave us time to plan our next move.
Having chatted to a friend up the road we found out about the benefits of having sand on the barn (shed!) floor.
When laid over concrete the sand softens the floor for animals, and when laid over dirt (in our case) it provides good drainage. It is also anti-bacterial. When straw is put on top it makes for an excellent inside surface for animals. Our friend houses his cattle on it in Winter and also lambs on it in Spring…and he just happened to have a couple of tonnes going spare.
A little bit of something interesting…the sand is local. It is dredged from Padstow and stored at a yard about quarter of an hour from us. Local farmers use it on their fields and in their barns, and there are probably a fair few sand pits with it in too!
Two tonnes of sand looks like a lot…especially when it turns up in the back of a tipper trailer pulled by a tractor with wheels taller than you. The quantity still seems vast when it is piled up in front of the shed, and when you are barrowing it in bit by bit. However, once spread out it seems to lose its volume. Two tonnes covered the shed floor, but we could still have used another tonne to thicken it! In reality, if we had had a smooth floor it would have been plenty, but we also used it to level and to fill in the mining operations by the previous feathery occupants.
With the floor sorted we then started looking at internal layouts as this would also hold all the hay, straw and feed for the farm. And then, we’d move on to the aesthetics…